Top 5 Dive Destinations
The islands are unusual for the tropics in that most of the diving is on volcanic drop-offs instead of coral reefs, so dive sites are deep and very exposed to ocean currents. Thanks to the Antarctic Humboldt current, which passes by the islands, the water is unusually cold for the equator; a 7mm wetsuit is standard gear. If you’re planning on going to Galapagos, keep in mind that all visitors, whether Ecuadorian or foreign, need an INGALA transit card to visit the islands; the card costs $10 for foreigners and must be purchased before going to Galapagos. Visitors also have to pay a park fee ($100 for foreigners) upon arrival in the islands.
4. Cocos Island, Costa Rica – Costa Rica is famous as an eco-tourism destination, and few places in the country are better for it than Cocos Island, a rainforest-covered spot of land 340 miles off Costa Rica’s Pacific shore.
Accessible only by liveaboard, Cocos is one of the largest uninhabited islands outside of the Arctic: the only residents are a group of about 30 park rangers. While visitors can land for day hikes and other activities, they have to be off the island by nightfall.
Cocos is an oceanic island, so visitors can expect to see an eclectic mix of animals, including octopuses, hawksbill turtles, tuna, and hammerhead and whitetip sharks. The island is especially famous for whale sharks, most often sighted in deep, off-shore sites like Dirty Rock, a 100-yard-wide underwater channel northwest of the island.
As in Galapagos, the diving in Cocos is generally on the deep side and in strong current, so it’s not for beginners. With sea kayaking and whale-watching nearby, divers shouldn’t have a hard time keeping themselves occupied during surface intervals.