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Cocos & Malpelo

Cocos Island Dive Liveaboard
9 days+ from $3,995 less $100

Malpelo & Coiba Island Dive Liveaboards

Coiba & Chiriqui Diving, Kayaking & Wildlife Yacht Safaris
Panama's Eastern Pacific Islands
8 days from US$2,390
Feb & Apr 2016

Cocos & Malpelo islands are both found off the west coast of Central America in the Eastern Pacific. They are two corner points of what is known as the 'Shark Corridor' which also includes the islands of Coiba, Chiriqui, Gorgona and Galapagos, and Panama's Hannibal Banks which lie in open water west of Coiba.  This corridor contains some of the most abundant pelagic marine life on the planet, of which schooling hammerhead sharks are just one of the signature sightings  you can hope to see.

Cocos is located 300 miles off the Costa Rica and is the jewel in the crown of the country's many national parks. Malpelo is a collection of one large and a few small rocky islands located within Colombian territorial waters 235 miles from the mainland.

Cocos has some of the best pelagic diving on the planet with huge residential and season shoals. This worldwide famous dive destination includes most of many divers to see list which include massive shoals of hammerhead sharks, enormous whale sharks, manta rays, turtles and even the occasional pilot whale. On arriving at the island you will more than likely be greeted by a playful pod of dolphins.
Diving here can only be conducted upon a dive liveaboard vessel as it takes a day and a half to reach this divers haven.  The island offer visitors a unique sense of remoteness that is uncommon at many of the worlds top dive locations. This remoteness also effects diver numbers which are less than 100 around the islands at any one time.

Cocos is a startlingly green island due to its dense cover of rainforest and cloud forest. This unique habitat, combined with the island's remote location, has resulted in some interesting endemic species including the Cocos Island cuckoo, finch and flycatcher.

Costa Rica declared Cocos Island a National Park in 1978 and it was designated as a  UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The total area of protection is 1997 km2. There is also a 12 nautical mile exclusion zone around the perimeter of the island designed to keep out shark finners and  help protect the magnificent shoals of hammerheads and other pelagic species. With marine resources under threat the world over, the fight against illegal poaching is one which is unlikely to go away.

The remote island and rocks of Malpelo are protected within a 6 miles fishing exclusion zone.  There is a similarly incredible concentration of pelagic species species here.  Schools of hammerhead sharks can reach up to 300 in number, often mixing with equally large numbers of silky sharks. Malpelo is smaller than Cocos and you always sense that hammerhead sharks are never much more than a hundred metres or so away.  Encounters are frequent and often very close up affairs when diving close to local fishing cleaning stations.

Galapagos sharks can also be found here and there are parts of the island where a few hundred 2 metre long free swimming moray eels can be seen.  Other marine species include large numbers of rays, schools of barracuda, shoals of leather bass about the size of grouper, shoals of cleaning angel fish and deeper water batfish. Other sights include pods of spinner dolphins and the occasional whale shark. Seasonal marine visitors include humpback whales and large schools of silky sharks as many as 300 at a time.

Of the Eastern Pacific islands, Cocos, Coiba and Gorgona are covered in dense rainforest. Coiba is the most intense of these from a wildlife perspective, with its own sub species of howler monkey and agouti, and one of the healthiest populations of scarlet macaws in Panama.  In contrast, Malpelo and the Galapagos's Wolf Rock and Darwin are almost devoid of vegetation. They are, however, oases of birdlife. At Malpelo you can see the world's second largest colony of Masked Booby amounting to approximately 25,000 birds. You can also see many frigate birds who get much of their food by stealing it from other birds.  You will often see them harassing boobies mid air to the point that they drop their fish catch into the water for the frigate birds to swoop down and steal.

Aqua-Firma specialises in combining the Best of Above and Below Water travel, which for Cocos and Malpelo can easily include Costa Rica as well as Panama and Nicaragua.  Please refer to our web pages for travel ideas in these countries, or Contact Us.


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