The Bat Islands or Isla Murcielago in Costa Rica
Bull Shark swimming at the Bat Islands in Costa Rica.
The Bat Islands are one of the premiere scuba diving destinations in Costa Rica. Located in the far north of the Guanacaste off the coast of Santa Rosa National Park. The area has been protected as a marine preserve by the country as part of the national park. The Bat Islands are full of marine life. There are huge schools of different species of fish ranging in size from small to huge. There are also massive schools of Rays that pass through the area. For divers, the area is most famous for the encounters that you can have with the very large bull shark!
Bull Shark Diving At The Bat Islands Costa Rica
To dive the Bat Islands you have to travel by boat about 30 miles from towns such as Coco Beach or where our dive shop is located in Playa Ocotal in the province of Guanacaste Costa Rica. The boat then will travel straight across the Gulf de Papagayo to the Bat Islands. The waters in the Gulf de Papagayo are heavily influenced by the wind. Due to this fact, sea conditions are evaluated daily before embarking on this adventure. When you reach the Bat Islands you will likely be diving a dive site called Big Scare. This site is located at the outer most island of the chain and is where you will find the often feared bull shark which can easily reach 6 to 7 meters in length. This area is the only location in Costa Rica that you will be able to dive with the Bull Sharks. Marine biologists are currently tracking the sharks to try and better understand why they visit this area of Costa Rica. Due to the possibility of strong currents, this area is not recommended for the new diver. The dives can also be quite deep, sometimes reaching over 100 feet or 30 meters.
Visibility also varies greatly in this location of Costa Rica. The best visibility is usually during the months of May to November when the winds are a little less extreme.
Visibility ranges from 30-100 feet and can vary greatly even during the same dive. Thermoclines can be intense. Water temperatures are generally a little warmer from May until November. With the air always quite a pleasant temperature in the high 80s to the mid 90s fahrenheit or 25’30 Celsius.
Another huge attraction to the Bat Islands is the Pacific Giant Mantas. These Mantas, which are also found on our Catalina Island diving trips, are the largest of the species in the world. The mantas are joined by schools of their smaller relative, the Devil Ray. The much smaller devil rays can sometimes be found in schools by the hundreds and even thousands majestically traveling through the water eating the plankton from the nutrient rich waters.