Of all the popular dive locations in the world, there is one that doesn’t receive the same amount of hype and attention as the rest and yet it has so much more to offer – SCUBA Diving in Costa Rica will open your eyes to a whole new level of underwater exploration.
Diving is one of the greatest experiences you could ever undertake, no matter how many times you dive or in how many exotic locations, the world underwater never ceases to amaze you with its alien landscapes and bizarre-looking creatures with comic book superheroes’ abilities to attack, defense, and camouflage. It’s also one of the best additions to your portfolio of travel skills, opening up entirely new worlds that most visitors will never see as they explore only above the surface.
Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica is just as rich in incredible landscapes and species of wildlife under the water as it is on dry land. Not only that, but the waters themselves offer unique challenges and diving environments, all of which make this area a one-of-a-kind dive experience. Whether you’re diving purely for pleasure, for underwater photography or to test and improve your diving skills, SCUBA diving in Costa Rica will take you to a whole new level in more ways than one.
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Here are 8 Reasons to go SCUBA Diving in Costa Rica
All photography provided by Gina Lusardi
1. Take in the sites of Manuel Antonio’s Marine Preserve
Extending from the Manuel Antonio National Park, the Marine Preserve features islands, underwater ridges, canyons, and vibrant pinnacles. With only a fifteen-minute boat ride from Marina Pez Vela, this Marine Preserve is easily accessible. In the time it takes to suit up, the Captain has the boat in position, ready for the first dive. En route to and from the dive sites, enjoy the views of the lush coastline with steep drop-offs and hidden beaches. Keep an eye on the horizon for playful dolphins that frequent the islands around the preserve. SCUBA Diving or not, Manuel Antonio National Park is truly one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica!
2. Incredibly rich in marine life
The warm and nutrient-rich waters of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast are home to one of the greatest varieties of aquatic life in the world. SCUBA Diving in Costa Rica, particularly in Manuel Antonio, you can find nudibranch, white tip sharks, turtles, dolphins, reef Sharks, humpback whales, and countless species of tropical fish.
On the Caribbean coast, despite being less developed and altogether less popular with divers, the country’s only coral reef offshore from Cahuita National Park is home to over 123 species of fish, 140 species of mollusk, and 35 species of coral.
3. Excellent guides
On any guided tour or excursion, there are two things that can truly make or break your experience – your group and your guide. You can’t do much about it if the people you are with are just not your type, or are simply too dead inside to have any fun, but you can do something about your guide, or dive master/instructor in this case. Trip Advisor is a good start, with real reviews from real people helping you choose the right company, but it can be simpler than that. SCUBA Diving in Costa Rica is a different type of dive experience; with more complex currents and a greater variety of underwater topography, it attracts divemasters and instructors who enjoy the challenge of more technical waters and go that extra step to make your underwater experience memorable by showing you all the hidden gems that you may miss on your own – All in all making diving one of the best things to do in Costa Rica!
4. The Longest Humpback Whale Season in the World
Eight months out of the year Humpbacks can be seen off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. December through April and August through October, these majestic creatures utilize the warm, protected waters to give birth and raise their young. Whale watching in Costa Rica will be one of the most incredible experiences of your life. Easily recognizable by their humped-back and long pectoral fins, you may see them breaching out of the water; the most breathtaking of sights. To find one, look out at the horizon for the spout of vapor they expel as they exhale. For a life-changing experience, listen to the songs of a male Humpback underwater during your dives. I remember the first time I heard a whale’s song; it was one of the most emotional dives of my life. There is nothing to compare to the feeling of the vibrations of his song as it resonates through your entire body. This is something that SCUBA Diving in Costa Rica can offer that very few others can!
5. Bigger is Better in Manuel Antonio
Bigger isn’t always better, but here in Manuel Antonio National Park, the marine life is bigger, and we love it! On the surface, whales, dolphins, and rays can be seen breaching out of the water. Under the waves, peer into the caves to have a close encounter with a sleeping white-tip reef shark. Keep calm around the turtles. The ones here aren’t used to a lot of human interaction, and they can be quite skittish. Swim through a giant sand cloud to find a ray burrowing into the seafloor. Keep an eye out into the blue, on rare occasions Marlin, Dorado, Manta Rays, and other pelagic fish have been seen.
6. Gateway to Cano Island
Want to brush up on your dive skills to make the best of your trip to Cano Island? Manuel Antonio is the perfect place to stop. Three hours from San Jose, and three hours to the Osa Peninsula, it’s the ideal detour for all road warriors. After spending a half-day at sea, break for lunch at one of the many sodas Quepos has to offer for some local cuisine before continuing your journey south. A trip to Cano Island is one of the best ways to go SCUBA Diving in Costa Rica and the perfect next step after diving in Manuel Antonio National Park.
7. So Much More than Just a Dive site
Often, the world’s greatest dive spots are just exactly that – great dive spots. If you have to share your once a year dive trip with your family holiday, then you need to make sure that there’s plenty for your family to do while you’re under the surface, or simply for yourself on days when the weather turns against you. Costa Rica is a place where warm blue waves break against a carpet tropical rainforest, rising up into cool mountains and active volcanoes. You can try every adventure sport possible here; canopy zip lining, surfing, hiking, ATV quad bikes and tons more. If you base yourself in Manuel Antonio then you’ll have diving, sailing and world-class sport fishing straight out of Pez Vela Marina. There really is no limit to the amazing things to do in Costa Rica!
Check out this video of Central America’s longest tandem zip line, right here in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica!
There’s also plenty more to do with your time in Manuel Antonio, making it one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica!
8. Dive with the best – Oceans Unlimited
Oceans Unlimited is a PADI 5* IDC Resort and technical diving center offering an array of courses from Discover Scuba Diving to technical instructor courses. They are also in the process of becoming Costa Rica’s first Deptherapy center, offering underwater experiences to amputees, including war veterans. Offering a speedy 15-minute boat from Marina Pez Vela, it is the only dive shop in Costa Rica with daily tours in Manuel Antonio’s marine preserve. The highly skilled and friendly staff are ready to make your vacation fun and exciting. When you are not diving, enjoy the onsite pool and hotel nestled in the jungle teeming with monkeys and tropical birds. Diving is a very technical activity, so when you go SCUBA Diving in Costa Rica, make sure you dive with the best!