Cocos Island National Park is a true shark enthusiast's destination, famous for its encounters with hammerhead sharks which can number more than a hundred in a single school. Cocos also delivers other exciting species including large silver tip sharks, Galapagos sharks, silky sharks, whale sharks, white tipped reef sharks and oceanic black tip sharks. Sightings of tiger sharks have also been on the increase over the past couple years. Other common marine species include bottlenose dolphins, manta rays, eagle rays, marble rays, cow nosed rays and mobula rays. The island is also home to more than twenty endemic species of fish including the strange looking red-lipped batfish.
Cocos is one of many islands that we visit throughout the Eastern Pacific that make up the 'Shark corridor'. Each location has its own unique character and highlights. Malpelo is its closest neighbour and somewhere we can combine with back to back liveaboard trips. Shark enthusiasts might also be interested to combine a Cocos liveaboard trip with diving at Costa Rica's Bat Island which is famous for its encounters with bull sharks. Aqua-Firma specialises at combing diving assets in this part of the world with equally inspiring tailor made travel throughout Latin America.
Cocos Island itself is covered in lush green tropical rainforest toppling precariously on its dramatic sheer cliffs. When you arrive it feels like you have stepped on to the set of a Jurassic Park film, with huge ephereal waterfalls cascading down to the ocean's edge, whilst being circled by the pterodactyl styled frigate birds. There are many different dive sites around the island including pinnacles, underwater arches, deep drop offs and sea mounts. During your voyage to the island you'll have a real sense of mid ocean isolation whilst keeping an eye out for migrating whales and dolphins whilst being followed by brown footed boobies.
The reason pelagic life is drawn to Cocos is that it is an area where the large Pacific sea currents converge. There is an upwelling of nutrients as these currents hit Cocos, enriching the water and encouraging the growth of plankton. This plankton attracts large shoals of fish as well as large filter feeders such as whale sharks and manta rays. This abundance of fish in turn attracts the larger marine predators. The nutrients are further improved in the wet season by increased run off from the island itself.
An excellent example of the fantastic diving at Cocos Island is the underwater seamount of Bajo Alcyone. There are cleaner stations dotted around this site which make it one of the best locations anywhere get close to large numbers of schooling hammerheads. As you descend the fixed shot line to the top of the seamount, keep a look out for the several shark species, rays, fish and even dolphins that frequent this beautiful blue water dive site. Whale sharks can often be seen here, as well as huge schools of schools of jacks and fast swimming yellow fin tuna.
The island itself is covered in lush green rainforest with many steep high falling waterfalls cascading into the sea. In the past the waterfalls and rivers have been an important resource for passing sailors and pirates making it a favourite location for supplies and hiding treasure.
The fertility and remoteness of the island has enabled many endemic and interesting bird species to thrive here including the Cocos Island cuckoo, Cocos finch, red footed booby and the Cocos Island flycatcher. Aqua-Firma specialises in combining the Best of Above and Below Water travel, which for Cocos can easily include Costa Rica and Panama. Please refer to our web pages for travel ideas in these countries, or Contact Us.
Depending upon which liveaboard trip you select with us, you can have the opportunity to go in an underwater submersible giving a completely unique view of the marine environment reaching depths of up to 305m.
Water Temperature: Ranges from 22°C - 28°C (73 - 82°F) therefore a 3 or 5 mm wetsuit is recommended. You will encounter thermoclines which can draw the temperature down by 5°C (12°F)
Visibility: Generally 25 - 30m but very changeable throughout the day and year
Currents: Medium to strong. Most dives plans will go with the flow of the current at a particular site.
Choosing when to go to Cocos Island
Cocos Island is one of the world’s best dive sites at any time of the year. However, there are some seasonal variations in weather and what you have the best opportunities to see.
The dry season runs from November to May during which you can expect calmer seas. Pelagic highlights during this period include Silky Sharks and Mobula Rays which can accumulate in very large schools. Water temperatures range from around 25 – 28°C (78 – 82°F)
The rainy season runs from June to November during which the seas can be rougher – something which can make the 30 to 36 hour liveaboard dive boat journey from the Costa Rican mainland to Cocos quite uncomfortable. Schooling Hammerhead Sharks can be seen at any time of the year in Cocos, but the rainy season tends to attract larger schools. This is also a better time of the year to sea Whale Sharks. Water temperatures range from 24 – 27°C (76 – 80°F).
These dry and rainy seasons reflect the weather on the Costa Rican mainland.
Our 9 days prices include
- All transfers from arrival in San Jose to delivery back to San Jose airport
- All meals onboard
- Local beer and wine
- Non-alcoholic drinks
- Dive master service
- 3 - 4 dives per day with air fills, tanks and weights
- International flights
- Accommodation in San Jose (but please enquire as we can arrange this)
- Wine onboard
- Dive kit rental
- Items of a personal nature
- National Park entry fee US$490*
- Emergency Evacuation Plan (as charged by the Costa Rican Government)
- International departure tax (US$20 at latest check)
- NITROX $200 payable onboard for the duration (subject to confirmation at
time of booking).
*may be subject to change without notice.