Scuba Diving in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a stunning country and being so close to the equator the air temperature remains beautifully warm throughout the year, but naturally with the come and go of the rainy reason (roughly May to November) the temperature of the water changes, attracting all sorts of marine life. Being labelled by National Geographic as one of, if not the, most bio-diverse and biologically intense places in the World, it is no surprise that it's coast line has so much to offer. Whether you are a novice or an experienced diver, Costa Rica offers plenty of opportunities to explore the depths of its' waters, and to improve your knowledge of the ocean through the countless courses and opportunities to become further involved.
Scuba Diving Courses & Packages in Costa Rica
Scuba Diving Centers, Shops & Resorts in Costa Rica
Best Places to Go Diving in Costa Rica
Dive shops are mostly family run and you will find them all over the country, but they tend to be concentrated in 2 main areas, which are from Flamingo-Coco (the Gulf of Papagayo) and the Osa Peninsula (South West of Costa Rica).
Gulf of Papagayo
Water temperature is cooler on the west side of Costa Rica in the Gulf of Papagayo, but the strong currents attract all sorts of marine life depending on the season. From Playa Del Coco and Playa Ocotal you can go on some fantastic local dives to see a huge array of underwater life but some would say the best locations to dive here, especially during the rainy season where visibility close to the shore is not at its best, are The Bat Islands, and Catalina. The Bat Islands are best suited to more experienced divers, and can bring you into contact with Bull, Tiger and Black Tipped Reef Sharks. With such clear water, it's a definite must for those that love the adventure and thrill of diving with the possibility of sharks!
But no matter what your standard or experience is with diving, Catalina Island is a definite must. With such a wide variety of marine life; fish, rays, mantas, eels, sea turtles, dolphins, and white-tipped reef sharks being just some of the more common, you are sure to have a fantastic dive. Giant Mantas with wingspans of anything up to 7m can also be found roaming the waters most commonly between November and May. The one pictured was seen on a dive whilst I was there just a few weeks ago. If you find yourself diving there over the summer months, the ocean even often rings with the musical communication of Humpback Wales - a truly amazing experience!
Osa Peninsula (South West)
In contrast to diving in the Gulf of Papagayo, the visibility here tends to be a lot clearer year round, with anything up to 100ft. This scuba site is based around the Cano Island Biological Reserve, where you can find all sorts of stunning tropical fish hiding out in the coral (much less common in the Gulf of Papagayo). Again the marine life is vast, with anything from schools of barracudas, to Octopus, Sea Turtles, White Tipped sharks and even the occasional Whale Shark. As well as plenty of boat dives it's also possible to get in some coastal dives, and there are opportunities for those of all standards. When it comes to nature you can never guarantee what you're going to see, so just go and enjoy yourself, and if you're a photographer remember your camera because no matter what you're sure to see some beauty in the ocean.
Cost of Scuba Diving in Costa Rica
Clearly the price of diving varies with every company. From what I have experienced and worked out, when going through a hotel it tends to be more expensive, but then you get the added benefit of convenience. On average it seems to be between $95 and $140 for 2 dives, including all necessary equipment and accessories, as well as usually drinks and snacks. The price will depend on the site, the company and whether it's a shore or a boat dive.
Looking to stay a little longer? Want to get a little more involved?
If you're interested in marine conservation, and have a more extended stay in Costa Rica then get in touch with Ernst Van Der Poll, environmental enthusiast and legend of the ocean. Having scuba dived and worked all over the world, Ernst has now brought a new line of diving to Costa Rica. With his not-for-profit company ConnectOcean he is building relationships with the local communities and schools, educating those there about preservation and sustainability. "Prior to this , Ernst ran the program for 12 years in the Middle East , becoming the first place-based environmental education program in the region called Tawasul. ConnectOcean is currently working on a restoration ecology project to restore damaged reefs and fish habitats by engaging students to design and build their own artificial reefs. The project was a huge success in Dubai where the students used recycled building material to restore habitats of important species displaced by the coastal development there." The aim is to create a population that can live side-by-side with nature, without damaging the prospects of their own future nor that of the ocean. Here a little help can go a long way, and to find out more about what this project aims to and already has achieved, and how you could get involved just take a little look at their website.
Ernst has gone further though with perhaps one of the most exciting and new developments for diving in Costa Rica; offering diving to visually, or physically impaired scuba divers. The 9th April marked the start of the All Abilities Adaptive Diver Instructor Course at Oceans Unlimited in Quepos and was a huge success. Soon the team will be welcoming a group of injured army personnel, teaching them to scuba dive despite lost limbs, or physical impairments. The reviews were all extremely positive from the course, and the students all had a great time whilst learning a huge amount. Definitely a truly exciting opportunity for all, whether this provides you an opportunity to scuba dive that you could never of imagined, or an opportunity to drive this project forward by getting involved. Follow through to SinLimites (without limits) to find out more about this exciting project.
Best Dive Sites in Costa Rica
- Manuelita Coral Night Dive (Dinner Bell), Cocos Island
- Alcyone, Cocos Island
- Dirty rock, Cocos Island
Recommended Dive Centres in Costa Rica
- Aqua Center
- Bill Beard's Adventure Travel and Diving Safaris
- Buzo Aventura
- Costa Rica Adventure Divers
- Dagua Rica Diving Center
- Deep Blue Diving Adventures
- Diving Safaris Costa Rica
- Herradura Divers
- Manuel Antonio Divers
- Mystic Dive Centre
- Oceans Unlimited
- Rich Coast Diving
- Rocket Frog Divers
- Reef Runner Divers
- Summer-Salt Dive Center
Help / Advice
If you need any help arranging a dive course in Costa Rica please get in touch.
Costa Rica Diving Reviews
If you have ever been diving in Costa Rica and would like to write about your experience, review a company or share any recommendations please contact us,
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Our Costa Rica scuba diving guide was edited by Claudia Macdonald.