All the basics you need to know about travel, weather & diving conditions
To help you plan your trip, we've prepared a list of basic information you'll want to know before you book. Once your trip has been reserved, you'll receive pre-departure information with all the details you need for your adventure.
Getting to Cocos
The liveaboards for Cocos Island all leave from San Jose, Costa Rica. Many of the major airlines fly into San Jose: American, Iberia, United, Delta, Lacsa, Taca and US Airways.
You will overnight in San Jose and we can recommend hotels for your stay. The morning of the day your cruise begins, you will be transferred by mini-bus to Puntarenas, a small seaport village where you will board your liveaboard.
The sea trip to Cocos island from Punarenas takes roughly 32-36 hours, during which time you’ll have plenty of entertainment and educational opportunities offered by your crew. Be sure to pack anything you may need if you are subject to motion sickness.
Guests will be met by a representative at one of two host hotels on the day of departure at a pre-set time for the 3 hour transfer to Puntarenas. Boarding time depends on the tide schedule. Immediately after boarding the yacht departs for its crossing to Cocos Island. After a full seven days of diving, the Okeanos Aggressor returns back to the dock in Puntarenas. Check-out is at 7:30 am, transportation is provided back to the host hotels or San Jose (SJO) airport from the yacht at the end of the charter. Flights should be booked to depart after 12:30 pm.
Upon arrival in San Jose, a taxi will take you to your hotel, this can be pre-arranged for you if you prefer. The following day transport will be provided to the vessel in Puntarenas, pick up is available between 8am-1pm from a set list of San Jose hotels. The drive takes about 3 hours, including a stop on the way for a snack or lunch.
At the end of your Cocos adventure, you will usually disembark the boat at 8 am and be transferred back to your hotel in San Jose. The transfer takes approximately 2 hours.
You’ll need a current passport which has at least 6 months of validity and a return airline ticket. Most nationalities do not need a visa. Ask us or check with the Costa Rican consulate in your area.
Arrival / Departure
A $29 airport departure tax is to be paid at the airport (many airlines include this in the ticket).
What's the weather like at Cocos Island ?
Air temperatures vary only slightly. This is a tropical climate and even in the rainy season temperatures are warm. Average lows range from 71-73F (22-23C) while average highs range from 86-89F (30-32C). Bring your shorts!
What about water temperatures ?
Average water temperature is 72 to 84F (22 to 29C), although it can be a few degrees lower under the occasional thermocline.
A 3-5 mm (1/8" to 3/16") wetsuit or shorty is recommended.
What are the diving conditions
Cocos diving is for experienced divers because it is an open ocean destination that requires advanced open water diving skills.
All dives are made from tenders.
Most dives are deeper than 60 feet / 18 meters and currents and visibility can be entirely different in just a few hours.
Most of the animals are found around 60-90 feet /18-27 meters and your safety limit will be set at 130 feet / 40 meters. Dive computers are compulsory.
Visibility averages 60-100 feet/18-30 meters but currents and visibility can change rapidly.
Your dive guide will always make the final decision regarding whether or not you should attempt any specific dive.
Experience required for Cocos diving ?
Cocos is not recommended for inexperienced divers because it is an open ocean destination that requires advanced diving skills.
The minimum required level of certification to dive at Cocos is Advanced Open Water. We also recommend having a minimum of 25 hours of diving experience and all divers will be asked to provide proof of certification, including nitrox & rebreather certification if you will be diving with either of those. Most dives are at depths deeper than 60 feet / 18 meters. At Cocos currents and visibility can be entirely different in just a few hours. Please note, the dive guide will always be the final authority as to whether a passenger can do any specific dive.
To increase safety and bottom time while maintaining safe non-decompression dives the use of Nitrox is recommended. Most of the Cocos liveaboard vessels offers full onboard TDI training in Nitrox, with rental of Nitrox computers.
Rebreathers can be supplied on some Cocos liveaboards, please enquire when booking.
Best Time to Go ?
Cocos is an excellent all-year-round destination. The dry season is from December to May. This is when the seas are calmer, the skies are blue and all the usual marine life is there, but perhaps in fewer numbers.
From June to December, there's a chance of rain, the sea can be more agitated, but this is the period for the huge schools of hammerheads.
Most divers bring their own gear but rental gear is available if requested in advance.
You want the following gear: wetsuit, mask, fins, snorkel, regulator with visible pressure gauge, a mandatory dive computer, buoyancy compensator, depth gauge, dive gloves, weight belt (without weights), dive light, dive watch, safety sausage & dive alert (optional Nautilus Lifeline). We suggest you put all or most of the above items in a carry-on bag.
Due to the thermoclines and upwelling, we recommend a 3mm wetsuit as a minimum. Most divers use a 5mm wetsuit with booties and a hood.
If you are travelling from a South American or sub-Saharan country to Costa Rica, you may need a valid Yellow Fever certificate.
Details can be found at: http://www.costarica-embassy.org
We recommend checking the CDC's website for the latest health news and information: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/costa-rica
Flying after Diving
Current studies show that you should wait at least 24 hours after multiple days with repetitive diving before flying. Please keep this in mind before you book your onward international or domestic flights.
Colones are the national currency, with $1 US equal to approximately ¢545 (colones) as of June 2014. International credit cards and US dollars are widely accepted in regions associated with tourism.
Hotels and banks will exchange US Dollars for Costa Rican colones. US dollars as well as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted on the vessels. Personal checks or travelers checks are not accepted on Cocos liveaboards.
Taxes & Fees
USD $490 Park Fee, (10 night charters), $350 Park Fee (8 night charters), non-divers $350 (10 night charters) $250 (8 night charters), $30 Emergency Evacuation program.
All onboard sales/services have a 13% tax excluding park fees/evacuation program. All fees and taxes must be paid in cash.
Do I Need Insurance?
Dive accident insurance is mandatory on the liveaboards.
Travel insurance: We strongly advise our guests to obtain comprehensive travel insurance to cover against unforeseeable events including personal & business impediments, illness, travel delays and missed flight connections. We can recommend excellent and inexpensive insurance options which will cover virtually every scenario.
Please don't allow yourself to be one of the unfortunate travelers who are without coverage for unexpected circumstances. Insurance is a small slice of the pie in terms of overall travel costs and can save you from serious financial losses.
Diving insurance:. Do not confuse regular travel medical and/or travel insurance with diving-specific insurance such as DAN (Divers Alert Network) or Dive Assure. This type of insurance will cover all of your scuba diving and snorkeling activities, including the costs for recompression chamber treatment and emergency air evacuation. These are not covered by the average travel insurance.
Dive Assure can set you up with a travel insurance plan which includes general travel insurance, including trip cancellation .... plus full dive coverage. Click on the button below to access Dive Assure directly.