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Cocos Island - Isla del Coco

Costa Rica


Located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, Isla del Coco is a real treasure to behold. The renowned Cocos Island Marine Park was established in 1978. In 1994, after several return visits to the island, Jacques Cousteau pronounced Cocos Island “the most beautiful island in the world”. In 1997, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. Verdant green foliage and waterfalls abound. Beneath the waterfalls and in the rivers, are freshwater fish that mystify scientists by their very existence.

Cocos Island is home to at least 27 endemic fish species including the exotic rosy-lipped batfish. The rich coral reef, volcanic tunnels, caves, massifs and deeper waters surrounding Cocos Island offers some of the most thrilling and exhilarating diving that the world has to offer. Converging nutrient-rich currents attract plenty of pelagic action. It is even possible to participate in a deep sea dive on board a custom built one atmosphere submarine. Truly a unique experience!

Located 543 km southwest of the mainland, the only way to dive Cocos Island is by liveaboard – from Puntarenas it takes up to 36 hours to cruise to Cocos Island, often in rough sea conditions. 


The weather on Cocos Island is hot, humid and changeable year round with daily temperatures ranging from 24˚C – 29˚C and an average annual rainfall of over 7 metres. The wettest months are June to October.



The waters around Cocos Island explode with life and exude a startling degree of biodiversity. About 20 dive sites are situated around the island ranging from shallow but steep vertical walls to deep pinnacles, drift dives and blue water dives. A highlight is the large schools of hammerheads, sometimes seen in groups of hundreds! There are regular encounters with white tip reef sharks, dolphins, mantas and marbled rays, giant moray eels, sailfish, and the occasional whale shark. Other common encounters are large schools of jacks and tuna, Galapagos, silky and silvertip sharks, marlin, Creole fish, green turtles and octopus.

Due to the remoteness of the island, the water temperature and thermoclines, strong currents, surge and unpredictable sea conditions, diving at Cocos Island is not recommended for novice or inexperienced divers.


Water Temperature

Water temperature ranges between 26 – 29ºC and can vary dramatically, dropping 3 – 6ºC during a dive due to thermoclines. A full length 5 – 7mm wetsuit with the option of hood, gloves and boots is recommended.

Dive Season

During the dry season of December to May, seas are calmer making for more pleasant surface conditions, higher visibility, warmer water and more active reproductive behavior to be seen underwater.

However, during the rainy season of June to November, the bigger fish and sharks are attracted to the higher concentration of plankton in the water caused by the nutrient upwelling , making for some exciting diving. The trade-off for all the action is poorer visibility, rough and windy surface conditions, stronger currents and cooler water. This is also considered the high season for diving at Cocos Island.


Dive Highlights

Manuelita Coral Garden

Likely to be your first dive at Cocos, a calm and protected site good for macro photographers and one of the few coral reef dives in Cocos. Countless fish, eels, lobsters reside here. Out in the blue search for hammerheads, black tip sharks, white tip sharks and numerous marble rays. Large schools of white tip sharks can be seen feeding at dark. Also the best night dive spot.

Manuelita Outside

Several cleaning stations are located here. Divers can hide behind huge boulders after passing white tip reef sharks, schooling snapper and marble rays, to watch the hammerheads waiting their turn to be approached by the cleaner fish. Beware of strong surge and currents on this dive.

Dirty Rock

One of the most dynamic dive sites at Cocos for the sheer volume of hammerheads and incredible bio-diversity that surrounds these boulders and rock pinnacles. Divers are engulfed by different species of sharks and rays while large schools of bigeye jacks, bluefin trevally and hunting tuna dart around the boulders. Whale sharks, turtles and dolphins also frequent this site. Don’t forget your video!

Bajo Alcyone

One of the most incredible dives and the best place to experience hammerheads swimming above and below you.  Pelagic action abounds at this site - expect interactions with white tips, black tips, whale sharks, marble rays, eagle rays, mobula rays, manta rays, turtles, yellow fin tuna, silkies, wahoos, dolphins.

Dos Amigos Grande

Features a majestic arch rising from 30m to 20m that provides shelter for lobster, snapper and rainbow runners.  Hammerheads, white tips, mobula and eagle rays also pass through the arch.




A land excursion is usually included by your liveaboard. Hikes are guided by a park ranger to see the volcanic island formations of carved cliffs and valleys, rugged peaks, lush forest, waterfalls and caverns, exotic flora and fauna including many bird species. Cocos Island is a photographers dream!


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