Diving in the Gulf of Papagayo

The diving in the Gulf of Papagayo / Playa del Coco / Playa Hermosa area in Guanacaste is amazing, because not only are we situated right in the center of many amazing local dive sites, but we are also fairly close to the Catalina Islands and Isla Murcielagos (Bat Islands).

In our area there are two seasons… We have the dry season which generally starts mid-November and ends at the end of March. It is a beautiful time of year…the mountains explode with vibrant colorful flowers, sunsets are epic and the evenings are fresh and great for star gazing. The water can be a bit cooler with temperatures averaging 74 degrees with cooler thermoclines of 65 degrees. The water is rich with nutrients (plankton) so our visibility averages 20-30ft. This is the best time to see the pacific manta rays at Catalina Islands. It can also be a bit windy making the surface conditions a bit choppy. This is a good time of year to also see many types of schooling fish, southern sting rays, seahorses plus our many other critters.

We also have the rainy season which begins around April and ends mid-November. Rainy season normally starts with a couple of rain showers a week, progressing to sunny mornings with afternoon rain showers and ending the day with fabulous sunsets. September and October are the months for the heaviest rains. The landscape is lush and green, very tropical. The water is warmer this time of year averaging 78-85 degrees with some thermoclines and visibility averages 30-60+ft. The ocean is calm and not much wind making it the perfect time of year to visit Bat Islands (Isla Murcielagos) and see the bull sharks.

Local Dive Sites

 We are fortunate to have so many fantastic local dive sites to choose from. Sites are multi-level starting at 30ft going to 80ft, with an average depth of 30-50ft, making the diving perfect for beginners and experienced divers at the same time. We typically see white-tip reef sharks, many varieties of schooling fish, octopus, five species of moray eels, loads of puffer fish, southern sting rays plus several other types of rays including the pacific manta rays, seahorses, frog fish, nudibranches and harlequin clown shrimp. The dives are generally 35-45 minutes long, with a one hour surface interval between the dives. We offer fresh pineapple, cookies and cold water. You are more than welcome to bring your own personal snacks with you. We depart at 8:30 and return at noon. Dive trips are two tanks but a third tank can be added. Snorkelers are also welcome to join us.

Not certified…not a problem!!! We also teach diving including the discover scuba class. Minimum age is ten years old, depending on the child.

We are small and personalized so we can be flexible on our trips and our hours. Special afternoon trips can be arranged. There is a PADI professional for every 4-6 divers depending on experience.

Private trips are also available.

NITROX is available with 24 hour notice.

Isla Catalinas / “The Cats”

Catalina Islands, known as “The Cats” is about a 30-45 minute boat ride south, depending on the weather. The boat ride out is just part of the adventure. We are sometimes joined by pods of dolphins, which races the boat and often see humpback whales and turtles. The Cats is known for the huge manta rays seen during the dry season (December to late March). The three main dive sites that we visit in this area are: The Wall (La Pared), The Point (La Punta) and Widow Rock (La Viuda). There are also about ten other dive sites to explore, so it is nice to make a “Cats Package” and dive several days in this area. You will also have the chance to see white-tip reef sharks, huge schools of cow-nose rays, devil rays, eagle rays, schooling barracuda, and horse-eye jacks, many types of schooling fish, plus our usual marine life. While the manta rays are seasonal to this area, you always have a chance to see them any time of year. When you have an encounter with one of these giants, you will never forget it.

Catalinas is advanced diving due to depth, surge, stronger currents and rougher surface conditions. Boats normally do not use an anchor at these sites, so divers need to be able to make a quick descent and make the safety stop without a line. Depth goes from 40-120ft. We require a local day of diving before planning these trips for us to get to know our customers before making the trip. Children must be 14 years old, have advance certification and 20 logged dives.

Isla Murcielagos / “Bat Islands”

PH_Bats_800

When divers come to this area, they usually want to book a trip to The Bat Islands (Isla Murcielagos), primarily for the chance to see the bull sharks at “The Big Scare”. But they soon find out that bull sharks are not the only giants in the area. This site is also known for other pelagic marine life, including manta rays, huge schools of fish and zebra eels. These islands are located about a 60 to 90 minute boat ride North of Playa del Coco. Bat Islands is part of the Santa Rosa National Park, so it is a protected area. This area is also called The Papagayo. The main dive sites we like to visit are: Big Scare (Gran Asusto) home of the big bulls, Los Arcos where you can explore underwater arches and a chimney, and Black Rock (Bajo Negro), a beautiful pinnacle that is full of marine life. There are other dive sites that are un-explored, making a perfect opportunity for a Bat Island exploratory package and dive out there several days. We can also arrange a diving / camping trip to fully enjoy the bat Islands area. We begin the day early and dive two dives, then go to the refuge, set up camp, have lunch and then go for a third dive. During the night we have a BBQ. Sometimes we can see the turtles laying their eggs on the beach at night or maybe they will be hatching. The next day we go and explore some new sites or repeat the main dive sites, have lunch at another beach in the area, make the third dive and then head back home. Multiple days are also available. The best time of year to visit the Bat Islands is during the rainy season (May-September).

Bat Islands is advanced diving due to depth, surge, stronger currents and rougher surface conditions. Boats do not use an anchor at these sites, so divers need to be able to make a quick descent and make the safety stop without a line. Depth goes from 30-120ft. We require a local day of diving before planning these trips for us to get to know our customers before making the trip. Children must be 17 years old, have advance certification and 40 logged dives.

Moray eel

Night Diving

Night diving is one of the most spectacular experiences a diver can have. We depart just before sunset and enjoy the boat ride over to one of our favorite local dive sites while watching the sunset. Just as the last rays of light leave the sky, we jump into the water. During the night, the creatures that sleep during the day come out to play, such as sea hares, apricot sea slugs and all types of tube worms. Eels and octopus are more active and sometimes we come across a sleeping turtle. The favorite among most divers is when you block out the light on your flashlight and move your arms to watch the water light up with bio-luminescent plankton — you truly feel like you are in outer space. Riders are also welcome to join us on a night dive. Everyone can enjoy a night on the water, watching the stars and looking into the water watching the fish glow like shooting stars.

We require a local dive before making a night dive. Children must be 12 years old and have advance certification.