The best way to start out a dive trip is definitely in luxury with a spa day! The guests arrived to Xandari Resort and their 500+square foot villas with spectacular views of the central valley overlooking San Jose, Costa Rica. Spa bookings were made and the relaxation began!
Pampered at Xandari Resort in San Jose
While in the San Jose area, we got out to see the sights taking a scenic drive up to Poas Volcano which cleared in and out giving us some views deep inside the crater followed by a great hike through the cloud forest while, Jorge, our guide taught us about the great flora in between joking around. We’ve known and worked with Jorge for about seven years so we had no doubt he would hit it off with everyone! He instantly became one of the family! We sampled the local strawberries just coming into season, found a rarely seen Quetzal bird, sampled Costa Rican Coffee and laughed A LOT! Ruben, being Columbian, found the bumper sticker, “Juan Valdez drinks Costa Rican Coffee” pretty hilarious!!
On the way down to the coast to meet the Argos, our dive boat, we welcomed a few more divers to our fold and headed down to one of the highest and most exciting zip lines in Costa Rica. Al strapped on his helmet cam and off we went flying through the forest. The fastest line was over 50mph!!! What a riot!!!! And of course, since we had Liz and Lee along, we stopped after the zipline for a celebratory Imperial, the local cerveza!
Luxury on Board the Argo in Cocos Island
We arrived at Argo mid afternoon. The Argo is the Undersea Hunter’s most upscale dive boat. With eight large and well appointed cabins, we were definitely traveling in style!!!! We were also loaded with Deep See, the incredible deep diving submarine, capable of taking the divers to a depth of 1000’!!!
The trip was specifically planned for the dry season in Costa Rica to give us the best chance of a smooth crossing. The thirty six hour ride out to Cocos Island can be a gut buster if you are prone to seasickness and can be a day and a half of misery! However, we had beautiful, calm seas and a sunny day to enjoy and made it in just 31 hours!
Even Rebreather diving at Cocos Island!
We took advantage of the crossing time to surprise the divers with a special treat. One of Ridlon’s dreams was to do a rebreather expedition to Cocos. So we decided to bring along Ron Benson of Silent Explorers to give the divers an introduction to the true silent world underwater. Ron gave an inspiring talk, explaining the advantages as well as the intricacies of diving rebreathers. EVERYONE, including the crew was interested and attended the talk. Even for the divers who did not want to actually dive the rebreather, it was fascinating to learn! Ron brought both a KISS and a REVO rebreather for everyone to try, an INCREDIBLE experience.
Ridlon then gave a refresher talk on Nitrox since everyone would be diving on it to give longer bottom times at intermediate depths. Carin went about the business of setting up the dive gear, leaving the guests worry free to simply enjoy the day.
Before we knew it happy hour was upon us!!!!
Diving at Cocos Island with Undersea Hunter Group
The next morning we cranked up the tunes and got ready to dive!!!!! We planned the trip specifically for both the dry season and La Nina. During a La Nina, the water temperatures drop and the cool water brings the hammerheads and other sharks up shallow. However, sometimes you plan everything perfectly and it just doesn’t happen the way it’s supposed to. Welcome to dealing with mother nature! This La Nina is proving to be one of the strongest ever and exceptionally cold water brought nutrient rich upwellings. We had temperatures ranging 80 and visibility of 100’ in the very shallow waters of the southern sites like Dos Amigos but also 58 degrees and 30 foot vis at Punta Maria. So every morning, we scoured the dive sites sometimes checking three or four sites before finding the best one to dive. Having really cold temperatures deep, however, brought all the fish to the surface. We had HUGE schools of fish in the shallows but the hammerheads seemed to elude us most of the time.
That doesn’t mean we didn’t have fantastic dives!! Ridlon’s group had a spectacular dive at Shark Fin Rock with two dolphin playing with them for over 20 minutes! My group had a dive at Submerged rock with a gorgeous yellow fin tuna racing through a school of green jack with eight almaco jack on its heals. The “normal” predators of the reef like the trevally jack, simply sat in a school off the rock and let the “big boys” take over!
And how about the Deep Sea Sub at Cocos Island- What a Thrill!
One of the highlights of the trip was the sub. The Deep Sea sub works with both scientific teams as well as recreational divers. During our trip, the sub worked with the crew from “Ocean” who were there tagging hammerheads and tiger sharks. Five of our group also took the plunge to see what the world looks like at 1000’. For sure it was our deepest dive in our log books and an experience of a lifetime!
Ron, the rebreather instructor was the hit of the party! The majority of the divers gave the rebreather a try. And the outcome was that once they got down in the sand with no bubbles and waited quietly, schools of 25-30 hammerhead sharks flew overhead. They were not skittish or shy and at one point one hammerhead’s tail even hit Ron’s video camera! Wow, we now saw the amazing advantage of diving rebreathers! Once the first diver saw that, everyone lined up to give it a go!!!!!! Ridlon even managed to get fully certified to dive the KISS rebreather.
The Shark Tribe- a Great Family of Diving Friends
It was fantastic to have many of our long time divers with us again such as Lee and Liz, Mike and Marcia, Raoul, and Ruben and Marilyn. It’s like a family reunion when we all get together. But it’s just as fun to welcome new divers to our group. We were joined on this trip by Mike from Florida whom we met diving in Fiji in March as well as Al, a long time skydiver who found us on ScubaBoard! Ron, our rebreathing instructor from Minnesota became an instant tribe member and Eric and Anne from France gave the group a great international feel. Rounding out the group was Janet and Dwight who found out about us through the Los Angeles Underwater Photography Society. So people are finding us through everything from our website to ScubaBoard to chance meetings in Fiji! It’s so much fun!!!
The seven days of diving went way too fast! We celebrated Eric’s 100th dive and Mike’s 200th as well as my birthday (we’ll just skip the numbers on that one!). We had bbq’s and waterfall hikes, happy hours and naps. We laughed until we couldn’t laugh any more and the wetsuits never dried from logging LOTS of bottom time.
On the way back to Xandari for our last night of the trip, we hiked through Cararra National Park to see macaws and monkeys and cruised up the river to spot crocodiles and spoonbills.
It was an adventure filled two weeks and a great time had by all! Please join us for an upcoming adventure. To join our newsletter list and keep up on all the happenings of our tribe of divers, simply email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you will be inspired to join us!