Located in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, 300 miles southwest of Cabo Blanco, Costa Rica, lies the renowned Cocos Island Marine Park. A rugged yet incredibly verdant island, this World Heritage Site is the spectacularly beautiful crown jewel of Costa Rica’s many National Parks. In 1994, after several return visits to the island, Jacques Cousteau pronounced Cocos, “The most beautiful island in the world.”
The island has an irregular coastline, which makes precise estimation of its land area more a matter of opinion than a surveyor’s science, but it is roughly five miles by two miles (8 x 3 kilometers).
Cocos Island was formed during a volcanic upheaval about two-and-a-half million years ago and is composed of basaltic rock, labradorite and andesite lava flows. Its landmass is punctuated by four mountain peaks, the highest of which is Cerro Iglesias, at 2,080 feet or 634 meters above the sea.
There are only two bays with safe anchorages and sandy beaches: Chatham is located on the northeast side and Wafer Bay is on the northwest. Just off Cocos are a series of smaller basaltic rocks and islets. The largest satellite is Isla Manuelita (formerly Nuez). Thanks to the breathtaking marine life in its waters, Cocos Island was named one of the ten best scuba diving spots in the world by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and a “must do” according to diving experts.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO (FAQs)
GETTING TO COSTA RICA
Costa Rica has two international airports. For optimum convenience, we recommend that you fly directly to San José rather than the more distant Liberia International Airport. Please kindly email your confirmed flight itinerary once purchased to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pack lightly since you will be dressing for warm tropical weather. Please check with your airline for weight allowances and baggage policies. Airlines have ever-changing baggage limitations that can affect divers and photographers, so always check for updates on regulations.
PASSPORTS & VISAS
All passengers must have a valid passport to enter Costa Rica. Most U.S., Canadian, EU and Japanese citizens do not require a visa. If in doubt we recommend checking with the nearest Costa Rican consulate to see if you will need a visa.
We strongly recommend each guest purchase comprehensive accident, medical, baggage and trip cancellation and interruption insurance when space is received. Trip insurance will protect you from financial disappointment if you are prevented from making your scheduled trip due to illness or family illness, or in the event that unforeseen circumstances prevent the airline or yacht from making its scheduled trip.
Please note, it is mandatory that you have a dive specific insurance that covers evacuation. We strongly recommend that passengers have valid Divers Alert Network insurance to provide coverage in the event of an accident. Cocos Island is a very remote area and the cost involved in evacuating a diver is very high. The D.A.N. policy is a vital protection to have. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance with obtaining dive insurance (at least one week prior to the trip).
FEES & TAXES (Per Pax)
There is a National Park Fee of USD 560, and a Sea Save Program Administrative Fee of USD 100, which are included on your invoice.
All divers must bring proof of certification by a national certifying agency. The certification must allow the diver to dive to the recreational dive limit of 130 feet (40 meters). The Dive Master will request to see your certification before you are allowed to dive. If you are certified for Nitrox and other specialties as well, then remember to also bring those certifications.
Upon arrival in San Jose, you may take a taxi to your hotel. There are always taxis available at the airport and minivans for those who have a lot of gear. For accommodations in San Jose, Sea Save is recommending Hotel Sleep Inn Paseo Las Damas. You can make your reservations at http://www.sleepinnsanjose.com/. The night before departure, Sea Save Trip Leaders will inform you at the above hotel of your precise pickup time for transport to our dock and your awaiting vessel. The evenings on shore are at your leisure. Hotel nights and meals before and after the cruise are not included in the charter.
TRANSFER TO THE VESSEL
On the day of departure to Cocos, generally between 8 AM and 1 PM, you will be picked up from your hotel and transferred to the seaport village where you will board the vessel. The drive takes about 3 hours, including a stop on the way for a snack or lunch. The price of this meal is not included in your trip package. The ride will give you an opportunity to view some of the lush tropical forests and rich farmlands of the region.
TRANSFER FROM THE VESSEL
At the end of your Cocos adventure, you will usually disembark the boat at 8 AM and be transferred back to your hotel in San Jose. The transfer takes approximately 2 hours, give or take.
Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken within regions associated with tourism.
CURRENCY & EXCHANGE RATE
Colones are the national currency, with 1 USD equal to approximately 571 (colones) as of March 2018. check xe.com for most current conversion rate. International credit cards and US dollars are widely accepted in regions associated with tourism. Hotels and banks will exchange US Dollars for Costa Rican colones. US dollars as well as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted on the vessels. Personal checks or travelers checks are not accepted onboard.
Costa Rica and Cocos Island are 1 hour behind US Eastern Time during the North American winter and 2 hours during the North American summer.
WHILE ON BOARD AND DIVING (FAQs)
Most of the action is at 60-90 feet /18-27 meters, and most dives are between 60-130 feet / 18-40 meters. The safety limit is set at 130 feet / 40 meters and a dive computer is necessary. Visibility averages 60-100ft/18-30m.
Average temperature is 79 F to 84 F (26 C to 29 C), although it can be a few degrees lower under the occasional thermocline.
To increase safety and bottom time while maintaining safe non-decompression dives the use of Nitrox is recommended. The vessel offers full onboard TDI training in Nitrox, with rental of Nitrox computers. Nitrox fills are free for Nitrox certified divers.
When all passengers are boarded, the vessel will take 32-36 hours to reach Cocos Island. Crossings are normally calm, but to prevent motion sickness we advise you to take the necessary precautions. At the conclusion of your trip, we will return to Puntarenas where a bus will be waiting to return you to your San Jose hotel.
GEAR TO BRING WITH YOU
You will need the following gear: 3-5 mm (1/8″ to 3/16″) wetsuit, mask, fins, snorkel, regulator with visible pressure gauge, a mandatory dive computer, buoyancy compensator, depth gauge, dive gloves, weight belt (without weights), dive light, and dive watch.
EQUIPMENT PROVIDED ONBOARD
Weights for your weight belt: 2, 3, 4, and 6 lbs. (1, 1.5, 2 and 3 kilos). Also provided, air or Nitrox tanks — 80 cubic ft. aluminum (12 liters).
Please note, tanks are standard yoke (INT), not DIN. Please notify our offices in advance if you need an adaptor.
RENTAL EQUIPMENT ONBOARD
You can rent a complete line of ScubaPro dive gear: BCD, regulator, wetsuit, mask, fins, snorkel, and Aladdin Nitrox dive computers.
There is a limited supply of 15 Liter steel tanks. If you would like to rent one, make sure to reserve it well ahead of time.
MEALS & BEVERAGES
The menu aboard offers a delicious combination of American and local cuisine. Meals are varied and well balanced, and delicious snacks are offered between dives. Food is abundant with plenty of fresh tropical fruit and salads and is served buffet style. Please let us know of any special dietary needs or requests, but try to be lenient, as storage and preparation space is limited on board.
Soft drinks & Beer: Free, Bottle of wine: $15 – $35.
Hard liquor is not available on board but guests are welcome to bring their own, which should be purchased prior to boarding.
We recommend casual and cool cotton attire while on board. Nights can be chilly and/or drizzly so bringing a sweater, light jacket or windbreaker is recommended. In San Jose dress is slightly more conservative, like long jeans and collared shirts. For women, we recommend holding off wearing shorts and beach type clothing till you are aboard the vessel. We suggest packing in a soft duffel bag for easy luggage storage. Booties or hiking shoes are recommended if you want to visit the island.
VISITING THE ISLAND
There is usually one or two visits to the island itself during a trip.
The vessel has both 110 and 220 volts ac. The cabins have 110 volts ac only.
The vessel has standard US and European sockets (but not British style sockets).
There is a variety of nightly entertainment available on board: slide shows, DVDs, music, games and much more. Please feel free to bring along your favorites.
SEA SAVE FOUNDATION THANKS YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT! SHOULD YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS ANY TIME, PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT US AT EXPEDITIONS@SEASAVE.ORG!