Watch our video below made by Brian:
Cocos Island has been on the top of our bucket list for diving but because of its distance from the Philippines, around 16000 kilometers away, we never really planned to go there early on our ‘diving career’. However, when we got a destination wedding invitation from a friend to Costa Rica, we did not hesitate to make that dream come true. We flew 12 hours from Cebu to LAX via Philippine airlines and 5 hours from LAX to San Jose, Costa Rica via Delta airlines.
Cocos Island is a Costa Rican national park, approximately 550 kilometers away, a long 36-hour travel that can only be accessed by liveaboards (A boat from where people would eat, sleep and dive from), from the mainland of Costa Rica, Puntarenas. We chose the best and most reliable liveaboard available for our schedule, which was the Okeanos II Aggressor. In the boat, we met with 16 other divers from different parts of the USA, Europe and Asia. We were also welcomed by the friendliest 8 crews of the boat.
The crossing time from the mainland to Cocos gave us more than enough time to get to know our co-divers and crews, prepare our gear and acclimatize with the sea conditions. We were lucky to have a smooth crossing, but we also expected that because we went there on a dry season. Dry season is in between December to May, visibility is higher with calmer seas but the chances of schooling hammerheads are also lesser. Rainy season is from June through December, the sea conditions are rougher but also with greater chances to see big creatures. Rainy season is known to be the ‘best time’ to be in Cocos, but it didn’t change our decision to push through our diving anyways.
When we arrived in Cocos Island, we got a briefing from the park rangers, the only people allowed to stay in the island. Then we did our ‘check out dive’ in Chatham bay. Even at a shallow 10 meters, you can already see a lot of white tip sharks resting in the sand. Chatham bay and Manuelita shallow are the 2 shallow ‘chill’ dive sites perfect for night dives.
And speaking of night dives, we had 3 out of our 24 dives. The night dives were very exciting and the highlight is the hundreds of hunting white tip sharks taking advantage of the divers’ torches. Can you count how many white tips do you see?
It is always a very ‘sharky’ dive in Cocos, with hammerhead sightings in almost every dive site. Hammerheads are the more popular ones but we also saw Galapagos, Silky and Tiger sharks. Our favorite dive sites here are Manuelita deep, Dirty Rock and Alcyone. But these sites can also have very STRONG CURRENTS. The strong currents bring up nutrients from below, and attract these sharks to surface up from the deep. We would probably recommend someone with at least 100 dives to go to Cocos, at least an advance open water who’s had experience with strong currents and sharks. Some sites could be very technical and may be unsafe for a beginner.
Cocos Island is known for hammerhead sharks and even though we did not see hundreds of them, we saw a lot! And I had my closest encounter which was just an arm length away from me. I used a wide angle lens but I still got a good glimpse of the hammerhead because it was very close. He was just as surprised as I was during that split second.
A common sighting in almost every dive site are the huge marble rays. We even saw a school of marble rays on their ‘mating season’ but I did not get a good picture of that since it was our 1st day, I was still adjusting with the currents and our new camera and video which we both just got a few days before this trip. Brian has better video clips of the marble rays.
Our new camera and video were very different from our handy sealife and Gopro, we had to get used to it. But we definitely loved the change, you can even compare it from our previous blogs.
Also in this dive trip, we celebrated Brian’s 200th dive. Okeanos was very thoughtful to prepare a cake for him.
On the 4th day of our dive trip, it was a Saturday. And as some of you may know, Im an Adventist and I don’t dive on Saturdays. I went to hike the Cocos Island with other guests from the UK and our guide, from 1 bay (Wafer bay) to the other (Chatham bay). It was quite a work out for me. It was a 2.5-kilometer hike which felt like 5 kms with all of the uphill terrain. It was all worth it upon reaching the top, where a ranger station stands with the best view of the island.
It was a great decision to celebrate our 2nd year wedding anniversary in a country we both have never been. More so, a dive trip of a lifetime. It was definitely one for the books!