Scuba diving in Costa Rica has truly spiked in popularity due to the abundance of wondrous marine life. Costa Rica is a diverse country with an incredible number of exotic plants and animals, and the rich marine life is no different. Scuba dive in the warm waters off of the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and discover a myriad of colorful fish and bright coral formations. To scuba dive in Costa Rica, travelers must be PADI certified. PADI dive shops can access the global PADI database to verify certification, or travelers can bring their certification along for verification. There are many scuba diving companies in Costa Rica and most popular vacation destination beaches offer professional scuba diving certification courses. The scuba diving shops generally carry very high quality scuba gear for purchase or rent.
In certain areas, murky water and poor visibility make scuba diving in Costa Rica difficult. However, beaches such as Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa, and Playa Ocotal have clear water and are beautiful places for scuba diving in Costa Rica.
The Caribbean Coast is home to the only coral reef in Costa Rica, and diving on this coast can be a wonderful experience. However, the tourism and scuba diving industries are less developed on the Caribbean side of the country and it can be more difficult to find top quality equipment. Still, Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast is one of the most beautiful scuba diving areas in the country.
Scuba Diving Costa Rica’s Northern Peninsula
Costa Rica diving is at its best near Playas del Coco. The beach gets its name from the chocolate colored sand that borders the ocean. While many tourists skip over this beach in favor of “classier” or cleaner beaches, Playa de Coco, along with Playa Ocotal and Playa Hermosa, has become a hub for scuba diving in Costa Rica. Visibility in this area can be somewhat subpar, but this diving site compensates in other areas. The amount of marine life in this area is absolutely astounding. There are numerous manta rays, sharks, whales, dolphins, sea turtles, eels, starfish, and an array of tropical fish. June and July are usually the best months for diving Costa Rica, since the visibility tends to be better.
Isla del Cano
Isla del Cano is one of Costa Rica’s premier scuba diving spots. With beautiful volcanic rocks, a coral reef, and a shimmering ocean waters filled with schools of brilliant tropical fish, no scuba diving enthusiast visiting Costa Rica should miss out on the incredible island of Isla del Cano. While there are many stunning dive sites in the Isla del Cano area, the one that stands out most is Bajo del Diablo (Devil’s Rock). Devil’s Rock is an amazing formation of underwater mountains that attracts an astounding amount of marine life. Scuba divers exploring Devil’s Rock can expect to see barracuda, puffer fish, sharks and eels.
Isla del Coco
One of the most remote national parks in Costa Rica, Isla de Coco is an ecological wonder. Home to an astonishing number of rare tropical plants and animals, this little island offers one of the most incredible diving locations in the world. Isla de Coco is over 500 kilometers southwest of Costa Rica’s mainland and it takes a 36-hour boat ride to get there, but it is well worth the long trip. Isla del Coco is most famous for a movie role. Remember the helicopter scene in Jurassic Park and that mysterious little island in the distance? That’s Isla del Coco! While there aren’t actually any dinosaurs on the island, visitors will surely be impressed by the natural beauty of the place. Adventurous scuba divers will not be disappointed—Isla del Coco is famous for the massive schools of hammerhead sharks that live nearby, as well as three species of dolphins and a wide array of beautiful and rare underwater creatures.
PADI Scuba Diving Certification in Costa Rica
There are numerous dive schools that offer scuba diving lessons for beginners. Costa Rica is also an excellent place to get your PADI certification. For a 3 or 4-day course, you can get certified in Costa Rica for open water scuba dives anywhere in the world!