The other day we got a special privilege of diving the Bat Islands in Costa Rica in February. This location of Costa Rica is generally assumed to be closed from late December until April as the winds and the waters in the Gulf de Papagayo are quite big and strong. We were blessed with a group of Columbians who were both very good divers, and very adventurous. One of the divers was celebrating his birthday and after diving the Catalina Islands and doing some local diving with us, he decided on his birthday he would like to dive the Bat Islands.
After being informed that there were no guarantees of being able to cross, and that the decision would ultimately lie in the Captains hands (Pin), we all agreed that it was worth a try. So with an early morning 5:30 meeting at the dive shop in Playa Ocotal we set off. The water was incredibly calm at the beginning of our voyage. In the middle and later parts of the trip across the Gulf we encountered some pretty decent sized waves. We were certainly happy to be onboard the Pacific Express which is built to handle rough seas with ease.
We made it to our first dive site, “Big Scare” quite early. With this being the only location in Costa Rica to find the bull sharks we jumped in with our fingers crossed. There wasn’t much information available as to whether they would be around this time of year because no one tends to make these dives this time of year. So we descended down into some pretty good visibility from a very rough surface. At around 70 feet we began to look around. After seeing some huge schools of various types of fish, some eels, and some other cool sea our divemaster Flaco suddenly started banging on his tank wildly while swimming after a 3 meter long bull shark. (Pictured right)
This was absolutely fantastic to find this time of year. The finishing touch on a successful, exciting dive.
The next stop was a dive site called Black Rock. This dive site is a little further inland on an island popping out off of the Santa Rosa National Park. We jumped in here again with great visibility and immediately into huge schools of fish. The dive immediately got exciting after finding a large turtle swimming about. We also found nurse sharks, groups of 5-10 eagle rays, several common rays, as well as eels, and more fish than our eyes could process. There were times when the water would turn dark. We would look up to see schools of fish swimming above that were so big and so thick that they blocked the sunlight from reaching where we were.
This great dive went perfectly as planned and on our surface interval our divemaster Flaco spotted a huge school of devil rays swimming below. Our divemaster intern, Shaggy had enough air and a video camera and was able to capture the video below. It doesn’t even begin to show how many of these “mini mantas” were in the group. Without exaggerating, there were probably atleast 1000-2000 devil rays swimming. Every which way you looked, up, down, forward, back, more devil rays. Was awesome to see what can happen when the waters of an area are protected by the government of a country. As they are in the Bat Islands in Costa Rica.
We then travelled back across the Gulf to our final dive site, Punta Gorda. On this site we were treated to watching large groups of both common and spotted eagle rays floating gracefully directly under where our boat was moored. The water was cool, but visibility great.
To finish the day off, we celebrated the birthday onboard the boat with some pop, sandwiches, fresh fruit, and a birthday cake. An absolutely awesome day of custom planned diving brought to our customers that resulted in a very happy birthday and 3 very happy Columbian divers!