A Voyage To Costa Rica’s Underwater Serengeti
330 miles west, or a day and half in boat time, is Cocos Island, an uninhabited island officially part of Costa Rica that is considered to be one of the world’s best locations for scuba diving due to the massive amount of sealife that call the island’s nearby water home (hence the nickname “underwater Serengeti”). Much like the nearby Galapagos, the islands were formed as part of volcanic activity, and the perimeter of the island is made up of 300-foot-high cliffs. And as if the island couldn’t be any more Bond-villain-like, there are lots of sharks there. Lots and lots of sharks.
As the San Francisco Chronicle recently explored during a diving trip there, the island is home to a hammerhead shark “cleaning station,” a location where the oddly shaped sharks congregate and enjoy a free spa session from schools of barber fish who like to munch on the parasites found on the shark’s skin (in turn, the sharks enjoy better health, the ability to swim faster and a shiny glow to attract members of the opposite sex).
Don’t be surprised to see great whites, whale sharks, Galapagos sharks and blacktips sharks there as well, along with the usual roster of underwater sealife such as guinea fowl puffer fish, Chinese trumpetfish, whitetip reef sharks, frogfish, snappers, dolphins and even California sea lions.
The tough part about this trip is the cost. You’re going to need a boat, and not just any boat, but one that can schelp you and a bunch of scuba gear, guides and food way out into the middle of the ocean. In other words, you’re looking at dishing out $4,000 minimum just to get out there and dive. However, when you get back, you can tell people you saw a great white shark swim through a hammerhead cleaning station while you floated dozens of feet below them. So, totally worth the cost.
For a staring point in your research, check out Undersea Hunter’s site, which provides information on tours to the island.
By Matt Stabile
[Cocos Jacks by Barry Peters/Flickr]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Stabile is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheExpeditioner.com. You can read his writings, watch his travel videos, purchase the book he co-edited or contact him via email at any time at TheExpeditioner.com. (@TheExpeditioner)