Liveaboard Diving in Guanacaste Island
What To Expect On a Guanacaste and Bat Islands Liveaboard
Liveaboards in Guanacaste and Bat Islands generally visit a few different regions here - Bahia Culebra/Catalina Islands, Cuajiniquil/El Jobo, and the Bat Islands. Each has a different diving landscape with incredible underwater diversity, culminating in the Bat Islands, or Islas Murcielago as they are locally known, which were declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999.
Guanacaste Conservation Area and Bat Islands Marine Park are located off the Pacific coast, to the North West of Costa Rica. Most liveaboards in Costa Rica will offer an itinerary that visits these protected islands.
Guanacaste and the Bat Islands Underwater
The Bat Islands are famous for the resident Bull Sharks that can be viewed here in large numbers. A liveaboard diving trip will allow you to visit several different sites, but perhaps the most anticipated will be the Big Scare, where divers can view these magnificent predators circling effortlessly. Whales, Dolphins and Manta Rays are all commonly found here as well. Joining these larger members of the marine habitat are a wonderful variety of tropical fish, corals and sponges. There's ample opportunity to log plenty of dives on your cruise per day, as well as a few night dives when guests will be able to see how the dynamic of reef changes dramatically.
Dive Sites of Guanacaste and the Bat Islands
The most famous site in this region is undoubtedly the Big Scare, well known for it's resident Bull Sharks. There's nothing quite like being up, close and personal with one of the ocean's most efficient predators, and so be sure to have your camera handy! The current can be strong and maximum depth up to 30 metres, and therefore dive guides will require divers to be comfortable in such conditions, often asking for an advanced open water qualification.
Bajo Negro is a beautiful site home to schools of tropical fish in huge numbers, swimming amongst a backdrop of colourful corals and sponges. Graceful Manta Rays are commonly sited here as well. Some live aboard dive boats sailing through Guanacaste and the Bat Islands will also stop at spectacular Catalina Island, where the high level of plankton in the water attracts both Mantas and the smaller, rarely seen Devil Ray.
Top Tips For Divers
The dive sites in this region can be deep and have strong currents with swaying surges and so commonly liveaboard dive safari operators will ask for a minimum advanced open water qualification. However, this isn't always the case as there are some beautiful spots with gentle, calm waters, and so it's worth checking with the operator first. The boat will normally have equipment to rent, but divers are welcome to bring their own gear too.
Note that to ensure conditions are safe and good for diving, liveaboards trips here tend to be restricted to between May and November.
English and Spanish are the languages generally spoken.
Local currency is the Costa Rican Colon, and it's easy to find ATMs on the mainland. Most major credit cards are widely accepted.
Getting to Guanacaste and the Bat Islands
It's possible to visit some of the dive areas as part of a day trip, however they'll likely be crowded and quite brief, and so in order to get the most out of what is on offer underwater your best bet is to jump aboard a liveaboard cruise which will sail you to many of the less frequented spots, allowing diving in undisturbed and pristine waters.,/p>
The nearest international airport is the Daniel Oduber Airport, however most liveaboard boats to Guanacaste will depart from the port of Punterenas, which is closer to the capital San Jose. It's therefore a better idea to fly into San Jose from abroad. From here, most tour operators will include a transfer to Punterenas (approximately 90 minutes), and sometimes even an overnight stay in the capital.