Snorkeling in Costa Rica
To go snorkeling in Costa Rica is a must for many visitors and enthusiasts who want to explore diverse ecosystems and see a wide variety of marine life. Dry Season (December to April) is generally considered the best time to go snorkeling in the North Pacific and Central Pacific Region as the weather is sunny with calmer seas and good visibility. September and October are good months to go snorkeling on the Caribbean Coast. Here are some of the best places to snorkel in Costa Rica:
Cahuita National Park
Cahuita National Park showcases the beauty of the Caribbean sea. The shallow coral reefs and warm tropical water provide a habitat for abundant marine life including tons of colorful reef fish. The best time for snorkeling is in September and October.
Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge
A gorgeous maze of walking trails lead visitors to sublime remote beaches. The idyllic warm waters attract turtles, fish and dolphins and is one of three places in Costa Rica that is a sanctuary for the endangered West Indian manatee.
Marino Ballena National Park
Situated on the Pacific Coast, Marino Ballena National Park is known for its unique sandbar formation that resembles a whale's tail. The park is home to an extensive coral reef system and offers excellent snorkeling opportunities. Take a boat trip to the closest island and snorkel to discover colorful fish, rays and dolphins.
Manuel Antonio National Park
After hiking through the jungle and seeing all of the terrestrial wonders that this national park contains, it’s a treat to cool off in the ocean and explore the underwater world. There are two main beaches in Manuel Antonio National Park where snorkeling is allowed: Playa Manuel Antonio and Playa Espadilla Sur. These beaches offer calm waters and rocky reefs where you can encounter various marine species, such as colorful fish, sea turtles, eels, and even dolphins if you're lucky.
Isla del Cano
Located off the southern Pacific coast, Isla del Cano is a protected marine reserve known for its crystal-clear waters and healthy coral reefs. Snorkeling here can offer a chance to see dolphins, turtles, sharks, rays, eels, and even whales during the migration season. This is a great spot for beginners, where the waters are calm and inviting.
Another beautiful destination on the Pacific coast, Tortuga Island is known for its white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters. Snorkeling will offer the chance to see colorful fish, eels, and even manta rays.
This picturesque beach located in Guanacaste is famous for its unique "shell" sand made up of tiny crushed shells. Few waves and clear waters make it a great spot to look out for tropical fish, starfish and corals.
Golfo de Papagayo
Papagayo in Guanacaste features a rocky coastline that’s packed with great snorkeling sites. With many protected bays and inlets, the area is an excellent spot for snorkeling, kayaking, and boat tours.
Costa Rica scuba diving is also very popular. Isla del Coco is the most famous destination for scuba divers. Located 300 miles off the Pacific Coast, you can only visit Cocos on a week-long live-aboard boat trip. The island is not developed so it's pretty much a paradise for wildlife!
You can learn the basic scuba diving skills and get your PADI certificate in Costa Rica. Remember to always do diving responsibly by respecting the marine environment, using reef-safe sunscreen and following local regulations and guidelines to protect Costa Rica's precious marine ecosystems.