If you think the mesmerizing biodiversity of Costa Rica stops at its shoreline, wait until you dive into the aquatic world beneath its coastal waters. Wedged between two oceans, Costa Rica is a top scuba diving destination, especially along the Pacific coast, where crystal clear waters are home to a variety of marine life. There are an assortment of exhilarating places to explore fish, sharks and sting rays, to name a few, but the crowd favorites are: Drake Bay
, Playa Hermosa
and Manuel Antonio
Caño Island in Drake Bay
Boasting the most unexplored dives and the country's best visibility, Drake Bay
is in a league of its own. On this trip, you'll branch out to explore the world famous Caño Island
, which lies approximately 20 kilometers off the mainland on the Pacific Coast of the Osa Peninsula
. The fish-filled waters are far enough away from the coast that the seasonal rains do not affect visibility as in other scuba diving sites around the country. You can expect to see eels, reef sharks, sting rays and plenty of bright coral.
Plus, explorers don't have to submerge your body more than 18 meters underwater, making it a hotspot for intermediate divers. Since the area is remote, you may want to look at a resort near the island that features lessons and scuba excursions.
White sands, turquoise waters and endless wildlife sums up Manuel Antonio National Park
. Despite being one of the smallest parks in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio is the most visited and packs in a wide diversity of animals - both on land and in water. You can spot sea turtles, octopus, white tip and reef sharks, lobsters and more tropical fish than you'll know what to do with. Whether you're a certified pro or a beginner, there are several companies that will take you on an underwater adventure of a lifetime.
The average depth is anywhere from 6 to 12 meters. In the shallower waters, divers often set their eyes on jack, grunts, angels, nudie branch and trumpets. You can also take advantage of one, two or three tanks scuba diving trips, both day and night when conditions permit.
Playas del Coco & Playa Hermosa
Located roughly 25 kilometers from Liberia International Airport
, Playas del Coco
and Playa Hermosa
are great place to learn the ropes. Not certified? No worries, a number of companies will help learn all you need to know to earn your certification. Although underwater visibility is quite low, these beaches offer rewarding scuba diving for those not looking to venture out to remote islands. Here you'll have the opportunity to see giant manta rays, swimming alongside brightly colored tropical fish and sharks.
Southern Caribbean Coast
While southern Caribbean Coast
of Costa Rica may not tout the diving prowess of the Pacific side, scuba diving here can still be a real treat. Unfortunately, this area has not been properly developed and the facilities for scuba diving are not quite as good. If you do get the chance, make your way on the eastern section of Costa Rica, since it's home to the country's only coral reef, which lies off the coast of the Cahuita National Park
. Despite being seriously damaged by an earthquake in 1991, the reef is home to over 123 species of fish, 140 species of mollusk, and 35 species of coral. There are a few scuba outfiters in the nearby town of Puerto Viejo