See also:     About Our Diving    Cocos Photos

Cocos Island waters offer perhaps the richest concentration of schooling fish anywhere in the world. The variety and abundance of life at Cocos is staggering. On a single dive at Manuelita islet one can see large schools of hammerheads, whitetip reef sharks, crevalle, HUGE brown (100+ pounds) and blue-spotted jacks, greater amberjacks, and skipjacks. One can expect frequent sightings of schools of mobula rays, and small numbers of wahoo, Galapagos, oceanic whitetip, silky and bull sharks. Mantas, bottlenose dolphins and whale sharks are often seen, and Skip's sailfish encounter was at Dirty Rock at Cocos. Green sea turtles, steel pompano, and marble rays are numerous. There are also lots of tropical reef fish and critters. No pinnipeds here though, none. There are also a variety of booby bird species frequenting the island.

We've been to Cocos before, most recently in October 1999 on the Sea Hunter and 1996 on the Sea Hunter's smaller sister ship, the Undersea Hunter. These trips were great, perhaps the fishiest we've ever seen in the Eastern Pacific. We saw few whale sharks on these trips, but did see many of the other biggies: Pacific manta, schools of mobula rays, bottlenose dolphins and silky sharks working schooling yellowfin tuna, pilot whales, hammerheads, white tips by the hundreds in places, a few big solitary yellowfin and bluefin tuna, brief sightings of striped marlin on an offshore freediving jaunt, schooling marble rays and silky sharks around the boat every night. On our October 1999 trip the hammerhead displays were unbelievable. Dive after dive, for the entire dive, small groups, large groups and schools of hammers were swimming by. On several occasions at the offshore point of Manuelita we witnessed what has to be described as a virtual river of hammerheads, with no end in sight -- thousands of sharks. It was better than any movie.

Island visits are few but fantastic! There are several waterfalls to hike to between dives, including one from 200 meters falling into a large pool with freshwater prawns. We can also do a 50 meter snorkel / swim through a tunnel with a 2 - 10 foot airspace. There will typically be three dives per day, most of which are deep, plus some possible night dives. The itinerary for our trips offers seven full days of diving (we are considering adding a day to the trip in 2001 for a total of eight days of diving):

  • Day 1: depart San Jose, drive to coast (Puntarenas), board boat in afternoon, depart for Cocos (great sunset)
  • Day 2: underway to Cocos (this is when you can take the Nitrox course)
  • Day 3: arrive Cocos early morning, dive all day
  • Days 4-10: Cocos, diving all day
  • Day 11: dive all day, depart Cocos late afternoon
  • Day 12: underway to mainland Costa Rica
  • Day 13: arrive Puntarenas, Costa Rica early am, breakfast on boat, drive to San Jose, overnight in San Jose

We travel aboard the Sea Hunter, a seaworthy and comfortable vessel operated by Avi Klapfer and Yosy Naaman. The Sea Hunter and Undersea Hunter are, in our opinion, the only boats to consider for Cocos. The Hunters' pangas are the best we've seen anywhere: hard hulled, fast, comfortable and big, and you don't need to have your tank on your back when underway. The boat has NITROX available if you choose to use it (most divers at Cocos do!), and the divemaster can train you in Nitrox diving if you like. This is a significant advantage for multi-day trips, where nitrogen build-up can sap your energy. Don't be fooled by some popular misconceptions among sport divers about Nitrox it is simple and safe to use, once you've had a little education and if you are capable and willing to control your depth. When used properly, Nitrox has the potential to reduce your risk of decompression sickness. Both the Sea Hunter and Undersea Hunter also have rebreather equipment and training, but we have not used it on past trips so cannot offer any personal comments. See for their web site. Lots of neat pictures, maps, and boat info.

Airline connections and overnight in San Jose will probably make this at least a 14-day trip for everyone. We fly into San Jose, spend the night, and take a bus to the coast the next morning. Similarly upon return. If you are worried about travel delays, misrouted luggage, etc., we suggest that you plan to arrive in San Jose a couple of days early. You may also want to schedule some extra time to explore Costa Rica as there is much there to see, especially volcanoes and national parks.