Cocos Island, Costa Rica, 2005





Trip dates:

25 August– 4 September 2005

Boat / resort:

Undersea Hunter

Dive centre:

The Hunter Fleet


Very friendly, camera table and charging stations.

Number of dives:

21 over 7 days of diving.

Diving conditions:

Rainy most of the time, choppy seas in all sites save Manuelita. Very choppy in Alcyone (difficult entry, not for beginners at all). Strong currents in some sites. Good visibility, but a bit murky in shallow sites (e.g. during night dives). Water temperature 26°C, but a thermocline between 20 and 25 m under which the temperature fell to less than 20°C.  Nitrox diving is a must here.


A dream trip. We did not see whale sharks or silvertips, but all the same, what a place! This is an Island where one really gets the sensation of pristine nature. It is not, there is fishing and considerable other human impacts there, but the scenery is so rugged and wild that you forget it. One day we landed to visit the single Costa Rican ranger that lives in the Island with his chicken and pigs. Nice guy, lovely front yard.

We had a relatively good crossing, and that was luck. I get very seasick, and we had a bad jetlag from the flights to Costa Rica.

The Hunter Crew will fetch you from your hotel in San Jose and drive you for 2 hours to the port of Puntarenas, in the Pacific Coast. The drive is lovely itself. Then you board and sail for 36 hours to Cocos (we made it in 32, actually). I spent the crossing sleeping on Dramamine in my bunk, and that despite the good crossing.

You get there at dawn, and what a sight it is.

The diving is made from very good pangas. These are hard-hull dinghies with a tank rack where your equipment stays for the trip. We did a good four dives a day. The panga rides could be quite choppy and I got close to being sick a couple of times. I also got a bad case of ear infection and had to stay out of the water for a day and a half. Ever since I have taken care to carry an ear dryer or disinfectant spray with me on trips. Audispray works very well.

We had close encounters with Galapagos sharks, especially on Dirty Rock and Dos Amigos. Our divemaster was a bit worried. They seem to think these are the most risky sharks around, but they might have been playing to excite us. We dove many times with the captain, who sometimes went down with a speargun to tag hammerheads for a research project. Turtles and marble rays were all around, the hammerhead schools were great in Alcyone, and the cleaning stations in Manuelita made for very close encounters with single hammerheads. The Alcyone site is a seamount dived first by the Cousteau team from the namesake ship. The top lies at about 25-30m, the entry is in full open water. When the seas are choppy it is a challenging dive, since there is always current. Backroll in in, grab the line and start descent, all that with a camera… not easy, but I got used to it.

I did not find the night dives with the whitetip reef sharks very exciting. We got to see the feeding frenzy, yes, but the whole business was a bit chaotic, we kept bumping into each other. No chance for decent shots, perhaps I’m too demanding.

Cocos is a place I would really like to dive again. It where I took the picture that is probably my all-time favourite, the schooling jacks that feature in the entry page of this website.

I shot with my Olympus C-5050Z and a single Inon D-2000 strobe. I used Inon wet WA lenses, which I was very happy with.

PS.: This was the time when Katrina hit New Orleans. Being cut from the world while on the boat, we only learnt of it the day we disembarked. One of the divers on the boat had his family there, he later wrote to tell us that thank God they all were safe.


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