Pura Vida! This is a common greeting in Costa Rica which literally means, “Pure Life”. We fell in love with this forward thinking Central American country while leading ship based expeditions here many years ago. The country disbanded its army in 1948 and put the money instead into infrastructure including roads and education. The result is a peaceful, stable country with fantastic tourism base and knowledgeable and friendly guides. During the dry season (Dec-March) the weather is gorgeous and shows off the natural wonder and beauty of the mountainous country. While our diving takes place at Cocos Island, 300 miles offshore, mainland CR offers incredible adventures.
Costa Rica and Cocos Island Facts
If you want cool things to do in Costa Rica, check out the next section. If you are looking for facts and figures, click here. The adventure life comes in many styles in Costa Rica.
Some of our favorite things to do include:
- Dive Dive Dive, Scuba diving at Cocos Island, Costa Rica is our favorite thing to do.
- Visit a Volcano! Irazu, the highest volcano at 3432 m and Poas, with the largest crater (look down into the steam and watch the earth’s crust being re-arranged!) are within two hours of San Jose and the MacDaddy, Arenal, the most active is not too much farther in the Alajuela Province north of San Jose. 112 Volcanos dot the country of which seven are active.
- Go Whale Watching. Off of Corcovado National Park in southern Costa Rica is a prime spot during the winter months to watch for migrating Humpback Whales. The totally awesome thing about them is that both north migrating and south migrating whales meet here and the Costa Ricans are trying to decipher them… totally cool!
- Visit a National Park Besides Irazu and Poas, a couple of other national parks stand out including Manuel Antonio, with beautiful beaches; Braulio Carrillo, with its rainforest beside a highway; Tortuguero, a watery, forested world teeming with wildlife;
- Visit Cafe Brit. Ok, this one is totally touristy BUT….they grow a lot of coffee in Cos-ta Rica and it’s very interesting to hear the history and see the beans etc… They have an all star cast who lead you through the coffee fields and then take you to their theater where the HILARIOUS comedy routine is relentless. We have done this tour over 15 times and never tire of it!
- Ok, one more National Park– Corcovado is a fantastic area of southern Costa Rica. You can camp, swim, snorkel, take a row boat up a river and enjoy the white faced monkeys (be careful!). The birding in this area is also quite spectacular!
- Call Horizontes. If you go to CR on your own and want someone to guide you birding or pick up a multi sport trip, contact these guys. They rock!
- Talk about multi-sport!– In Costa Rica you can raft, mountain bike, zip line, climb a volcano, bird watch… this country has it all!!!
Costa Rica Seasonality
Costa Rica enjoys typical tropical season divided between wet and dry. The wet season runs from May – December and the dry from December – May. All of the time we’ve spent in CR has been from January thru March and we rarely had even a single day of bad weather. With that said, those months can also be the choppier time of year on the water. Generally the run out to Cocos island is bumpy this time of year but it’s also prime hammerhead shark season! So if you’re going to Cocos, AND YOU SHOULD, be prepared for bumpy seas and incredible diving!!!
Our Favorite Scuba Diving:
Pull out the scuba tanks, wet suits and dive computers and let’s go to Cocos Island! If you’re going to Cocos, you’re going on a live aboard, no other way, it’s 300 miles off-shore on the Pacific side. The 36 hour boat ride can be rough but you’ll forget all about it once your scuba fins hit the water! Highlights of diving here are schooling hammerheads, heaps of white tip sharks feeding at night (extremely cool!), hunting dolphin, whale sharks, mounds of rays, 27 endemic species of fish… need we say more?
Diving from mainland Costa Rica is definitely hit or miss on the Pacific side. Due to nutrient upwellings, visibility is certainly not stellar, it can be rough during the dry season and without any coral reefs, you are in search of critters. In our opinion, if you’re going to Costa Rica and want to dive, why not do the best?… go to Cocos.
Some of the live-aboards in Cocos became known for their ability to cater to re-breather divers and teach on board. Unfortunately, no one at this time is teaching re-breather courses but if you have one and use it at Cocos you WILL be rewarded!!!