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## Scuba Diving in Costa Rica: An Underwater Paradise

Costa Rica, renowned for its pristine rainforests, abundant wildlife, and breathtaking beaches, is also a haven for scuba divers. The Pacific and Caribbean coasts offer diverse dive sites teeming with marine life, ranging from vibrant coral reefs to majestic sea creatures.

### Pacific Coast Dive Sites

**Caño Island:** Located 12 miles offshore from Drake Bay, Caño Island is recognized as one of the best dive sites in the country. Its crystal-clear waters reveal intricate coral formations and a staggering array of fish species, including tuna, barracuda, jacks, and even hammerhead sharks.

**Isla del Coco:** A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Isla del Coco is a rugged island situated 290 miles off the coast of Costa Rica. Home to pristine reefs and underwater caves, it attracts experienced divers who seek encounters with silky sharks, devil rays, and eagle rays.

**Bat Islands:** These two small islands, just north of Caño Island, are known for their abundance of schooling fish, including jacks, snappers, and grunts. Divers can also spot turtles, moray eels, and nurse sharks patrolling the reefs.

### Caribbean Coast Dive Sites

**Cahuita National Park:** Nestled on the southeastern coast, Cahuita National Park boasts a rich coral reef that spans 100 acres. The diversity of marine life is astonishing, with over 500 fish species, including parrotfish, angelfish, and butterflyfish.

**Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge:** This protected area in the southern Caribbean offers pristine reefs and underwater caves, inhabited by sea turtles, lobsters, and rays. Divers can also explore historic shipwrecks, such as the SS Andrea Doria.

### Dive Conditions

**Visibility:** Costa Rican waters generally offer excellent visibility, ranging from 40-100 feet. The best time for diving is during the dry season, from December to April, when conditions are optimal.

**Water Temperature:** Water temperatures vary depending on the region and season. The Caribbean side typically has warmer waters (78-86°F), while the Pacific side can be slightly cooler (75-82°F).

**Currents:** Currents can vary in intensity at different dive sites. It’s important to be aware of the current conditions before entering the water and to plan dives accordingly.

### Marine Life Encounters

Costa Rica is a treasure trove of marine biodiversity. Divers can expect to encounter a wide variety of species, including:

– **Fish:** Tropical reef fish, pelagic fish, sharks, and rays
– **Turtles:** Green, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles
– **Mammals:** Dolphins, humpback whales (during migration season)
– **Invertebrates:** Octopus, nudibranchs, lobster, and shrimp

### Dive Shops and Operators

There are numerous dive shops and operators throughout Costa Rica that cater to divers of all levels. They provide rental equipment, guided dives, and the necessary safety equipment. Here are some reputable options:

– **Bajo el Agua:** Located in Uvita (Pacific Coast)
– **Scuba Caribe:** Based in Cahuita (Caribbean Coast)
– **DiveOsa:** Operating in Drake Bay (Pacific Coast)

### Dive Safety

– Always dive with a certified guide.
– Check the weather forecast and dive conditions before entering the water.
– Respect marine life and do not touch or harass any animals.
– Stay hydrated and avoid alcohol before and after diving.
– Have fun and explore the underwater wonders of Costa Rica safely!

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