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I might be going to Costa Rica some time between now and July. While I won't be going to Cocos (bit too pricey, takes too long to get there and the missus would be very very bored) I intend to do as much diving as I can.

I gather that the best diving is aroud the Northwest pacific coast, so I'm after a dive centre up there somewhere, but I may also go Pacific Southwest and somewhere on the Caribbean for a while.

Has anyone visited Costa Rica? Can anyone recommend any dive shops?

I've found quite a few on the web (including one advertising "Ride a manata ray - our instructors will teach you how"!!! Hmm, not v.padi) but I'm wondering if anyone can tell me who's good and who to steer clear of.

Cheers
 

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<font color='#32CD32'>Personally I start by avoiding the 'ride a manta ray' muppets.

That could never be construed as a positive interraction!

Juz
 

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I dived there a few years ago, 98 I think it was.

We dived on the Northwest Pacific side and had a great time. The vis wasn't fantastic as there was a lot of plankton in the water- probably 5-8m vis for most dives. The most enjoyable part was the amount of life we say. LOTS of sharks, reef life and we even saw sea horses. We were there in June.

We dived with Bill Beard's Diving Safaris who were friendly and helpful. The only disadvantage was that they were heavily geared up for the US holiday diver market. Once they realised that we really could dive they let us get on with it.

If you are going to go to Costa Rica then make sure you check out the other sites. We did a 3 week trip with 2 weeks exploring and 1 week diving. Something like 30% of Costa Rica is national park, which I think is the highest percentage of any country in the world.
 

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Thanks for the info Mark,

I've contacted Bill Beard, but every dive centre I email (them included) seems more interested in trying to sell me flights & accommodation than telling me about the diving, which is a shame. This is made more annoying by the fact that if I told them I was coming from the UK they'd probably just stare blankly becuase, as you say, they're geared up for US holidaymakers.

Will see the jungle as well. Probably 20% of time diving, the rest (hopefully) doing a bit of sea kayaking, horseriding through the backwoods. It looks like such a cool place, I can't wait.

Cheers
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>Dived at Ocotol on the west coast 2001 We had booked four days diving with unlimited shore dives, dived the first day and canceled the rest. Diving lousy, bad viz, no life and a grey stoney bottom. Car broken into on hotel grounds ( I think by the security guard ). Management no help, we had to drive to the nearest town about 30 - 40 miles, then we find out there are three - four types of police for diffrent crimes by the time we found the right one and attempted to make a report ( no one spoke english ) that was a complete day gone. Never again.
 

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Sh*t man.
Sounds like you had a bad time. The kind of money I'll be spending on hotels, they aren't likely to have security guards, so no worries there


Thanks for sharing your experience.
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>I travelled extensively through Costa Rica in 1996 but at that time I didn't dive. Personally I didn't find Costa Rica to be the real paradise as the US brochures put it out to be, but then I islands in Panama. You can take the bus from San José to the border, then a cab to the ferry port (a days travel). The islands are very tranquil and very unspoilt. There was a diving was doing the resort type travel either. Let me start off with the bad stuff first:
- San José was rough as guts. I spent 10 days there and never felt that safe. I stayed at a hostel by the market and from the veranda saw a few muggings. A classic one they did to tourist was by coming up behind you, squeeze your neck until you fainted from lack of blood flow!
- Limon was rougher where there were druggies in the town square with vultures hanging around like there are pigeons in trafalgar square.
- Never found the 'Ticos' (Costa Ricans) to be hospitable people.

However
There are some jewels within this country. The Northwest is nice and much more beautifull than the Caribean side. Arenal volcanoe is worth a visit and Tortuguero National Park. We took a boat for three days going along the Nicaraguan border and into the park (all in the jungle). Also kayaked through the jungle and that was great. These places I'd reccomend to visit but overall much caution is needed. I'd go back to Costa Rica to these places, but just take into mind it is not the paradise it is made out to be.

For diving though I'd reccomend to go to Bocas del Toro. These islands are North East Panama and a days trip from San José. You can take a bus to the border, cross by foot and a cab ride to the ferry terminal then ferry to the islands. The islands were very unspoilt and really beautifull. Not much in beaches but the waters were stunning. There was a dive facility there and now there could be more than the one. I strongly recomend to give it a try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
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Thanks Chris,
Seems like it's not as nice as the brochures make out.

Bocas del Toro sounds good, but I'll probably have to give it a miss (I doubt I'd convince her indoors that two days travel out of our fortnight holiday are worth it, so that I can go diving on an island without any beaches - but I'll try!)

Definitely be spending some time in the jungle around the Nicaraguan border, and clambering around active volcanos  
 
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