Diving With Sharks: Exploring Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast
Lurking under the surface of the pristine warm turquoise waters off Cano Island is Costa Rica’s best diving site. A dive here promises that you will spot a shark or two but don’t worry these sharks are of the mild variety. Located 13 miles off the coast of Drake Bay and accessible by boat, the island has empty sandy white beaches and waters teeming with life. Everything here lives under the sea where fish of every color dart around the coral reefs surrounding the reserve. Visibility is excellent and averages about 65-feet. The warm cerulean waters offer an undistorted view into the vast marine life below.
A pre-columbian burial ground for the native Indians, Costa Rica decided to protect the island as a biological reserve in 1976. The area within three miles of the waters surrounding the island prohibits fishing and harvesting of marine life. The island’s pristine nature, distance from the mainland, and lack of development create the island’s excellent diving conditions.
The nutrient-rich warm water attracts whales, sharks, dolphins, turtles, manta rays and schooling fish. While diving next to a white-tipped reef shark, silly shark, bull shark and even occasionally a whale shark you will probably also spot a sea turtle and maybe even a dolphin or two. Humpback whales may be spotted migrating through these waters on dives from July through October or from December through March.
Cano has a multitude of dive sites including Shark Cave, Coral Gardens, Paradise, Shipwreck, Arches, and Bajodel Diablo. Other fish that can be spotted in these waters include Parrotfish, Angelfish, Spotted Green Puffer, Spotted and Freckled Porcupinefish, Panamic Soldierfish, and Blunted Triggerfish. In addition to the many dive sites, the hiking trails are also a popular attraction to the island. Many of the trails cut through the evergreen forest on the island and one of the trails leads to a pre-columbian sacred site. You can hang out on the island all day diving, snorkeling, swimming or just even just laying on the beach.
Whether you’re an amateur snorkeler or a certified expert diver, a trek out to Cano Island is worth the trip. For the less ardent adventurer or inexperienced diver, the neighboring Golfo Dulce is also known for colorful marine life, such as parrot, angel and butterfly fish, eels, and the occasional whale shark. Crocodile Bay organizes boating and snorkeling ecotours. Cano Island is one of the hotspots for snorkeling and diving expeditions in the pacific. It is worth taking a look under the surface of these waters where a whole new world emerges.