Best Liveaboards In Costa Rica

Written and Reviewed By

Cocos Island landscape view

Jumping on a liveaboard cruise is one of the best ways to see the beautiful Central American country of Costa Rica. It’s famously described as a place where two worlds meet in a dramatic cobalt oceans harmonizing with vibrant emerald jungles. You can literally visit two oceans in a day. 

liveaboard cruise is the best, and only, way to make the long journey to UNESCO site Cocos Island, Costa Rica’s most famous scuba diving destination.

This island is found 240 miles (550km) southwest of the Costa Rican mainland and is a haven for large pelagic species. It is frequently listed amongst the best dive sites in the world. 

When it comes to picking a liveaboard, it can get tricky with all the different options since they are all amazing After some in-depth research, we’ve narrowed down the list.

You will likely need to take a plane to get to the departure point, unless you are sailing around the world. We would recommend reading our tips on  flying with dive gear and if you want an even easier trip think about getting a travel BCD for more ease on those flights and travels to your dive destinations. 

Table of Contents

At OtterAquatics, our ultimate goal is to help you book your dream liveaboard. We’ve assembled a team of PADI, SSI, and Molchanovs instructors, as well as liveaboard cruise directors to research all available options.

How We Pick

In order to create our best liveaboard lists, the OtterAquatics team starts off by researching the liveaboard landscape for a particular region of world, listing out all of the highest-rated choices.

Unfortunately it’s not possible to go on every single liveaboard, but we go on the ones we can.

Next, we identify 3-5 liveaboards per region that are distinct best choices for different scenarios. For example, on a list, we may suggest budget options, luxury options, or a liveaboard that exclusively hits a certain dive site.

How We Review

The OtterAquatics team reviews the liveaboards on our lists by researching information on liveaboard booking websites, review websites, and our social media communities of divers.

We also contact each liveaboard mentioned on our lists ensuring the information is accurate.

Our Team of Writers

Want to learn more about who our writers are? Head over to the OtterAquatics About Page.

At OtterAquatics, our ultimate goal is to help you book your dream liveaboard. We’ve assembled a team of PADI, SSI, and Molchanovs instructors, as well as liveaboard cruise directors to research all available options.

How We Pick

In order to create our best liveaboard lists, the OtterAquatics team starts off by researching the liveaboard landscape for a particular region of world, listing out all of the highest-rated choices.

Unfortunately it’s not possible to go on every single liveaboard, but we go on the ones we can.

Next, we identify 3-5 liveaboards per region that are distinct best choices for different scenarios. For example, on a list, we may suggest budget options, luxury options, or a liveaboard that exclusively hits a certain dive site.

How We Review

The OtterAquatics team reviews the liveaboards on our lists by researching information on liveaboard booking websites, review websites, and our social media communities of divers.

We also contact each liveaboard mentioned on our lists ensuring the information is accurate.

Our Team of Writers

Want to learn more about who our writers are? Head over to the OtterAquatics About Page.

Best Costa Rica Liveaboards

Most Routes

Sea Hunter

4.7
From $523/d
Pros:
  • Built to support divers
  • Very stable in the water
  • Fresh Costa Rican cuisine
Cons:
  • Tricky sites for beginners
  • Long ocean journey
  • No wifi
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Sea Hunter is a former commercial diving support boat for the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico, so it was literally built to cater to a diver’s every need and offers a very smooth ride. She spends most of the year visiting the epic dive sites of Cocos Island in the Pacific Ocean, but also runs itineraries to Silver Bank where whales can be seen off the coast of the Dominican Republic during the spring.

Once she was renovated for liveaboard use, she became an incredibly comfortable vessel. In 10 double and twin cabins, she sleeps up to 20 guests. All cabins have ensuite facilities and individually controlled air-conditioning. She has an air-conditioned saloon with TV/ DVD systems as well as a diner-style indoor dining area. The alfresco dining area is ideal for taking in the beautiful surroundings and the esquisite food. There is a study room with a small library and computers for photo editing. The chef provides 3 fresh western-Costa Rican fusion meals a day, along with complimentary alcoholic beverages and snacks.

The shaded dive deck has plenty of room for the divers and includes complimentary facilities to accommodate nitroxside mount, and rebreather divers.

For most of the year, Sea Hunter visits the spectacular Cocos Island which is nestled in the Pacific Ocean and is well known as a pelagic playground. Marine life includes iconic, schooling hammerheads, whale sharks, and sailfish. She also visits Silver Bank, a beautiful reef off the coast of the Dominican Republic during the spring months.

Liveaboard Specs:

  • Max number of Guests/ Divers: 20
  • Number of Dives: Up to 4 dives per day
  • Number of cabins: 10
  • Trip Length: 7-10 nights
  • Wifi: Available for an additional fee
  • Nitrox: Available for an additional fee.
 
  • Drinks: Included in the package
  • Port: Puntarenas, Costa Rica
  • Onshore Excursions: Possible at an additional fee
  • Route/ Itinerary: Cocos Island Camera
  • Station: Yes, with charging stations and storage space
Luxury Option

Okeanos Aggressor

3.5
From $490/d
Pros:
  • Luxury facilities
  • Complimentary drinks service
  • Fresh Costa Rican cuisine
  • 3 Tier CameraTable
Cons:
  • Tricky sites for beginners
  • Long ocean journey
  • Expensive and Park Fees
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The Okeanos Aggressor is part of the established liveaboard chain “Aggressor”. This 33m long yacht is typically world-class and offers year-round trips to the world-renowned Cocos Island.

She caters for up to 22 divers in 10 luxury staterooms. Each has an ensuite bathroom with showers, storage space, ocean view window, entertainment system and individually controlled air-conditioning. There is an air-conditioned interior saloon with sofas, bar and dining area. There is also a small library and photo editing nook. A number of sundecks with loungers and shaded alfresco relaxation areas are provided, ideal for kicking back after a long day of diving. Food is freshly prepared and showcases local and American cuisines, whilst soft drinks, beer and wine are complimentary. 

Diving facilities include a spacious dive deck and diving tenders for easy travel to dive sites. The 3 tier camera table with low-pressure air hoses will keep your gear in top condition and the personal gear lockers make gearing up easy. Nitrox is available for an extra fee.

Liveaboard Specs:

  • Max number of Guests/Divers: 22 guests
  • Number of Dives: Typically 3-4 dives per day, including night dives
  • Number of cabins: 11 cabins.
  • Trip Length: 7-10 nights
  • Wifi: Available for an additional fee
  • Nitrox: Available for an additional fee
  • Drinks: Complimentary local beer and wine
  • Port: Puntarenas, Costa Rica
  • Onshore Excursions: Possible on some itineraries
  • Camera Station: Large camera table with charging stations available for guests to use.
Best for Pelagics

Cocos Island Aggressor

5.0
From $448/d
Pros:
  • Full-Board
  • Spacious personal dive gear storage lockers
  • World-class diving
  • Luxury facilities
Cons:
  • Nitrox is extra
  • Minimum 50 dives required
  • Long boat ride
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The Cocos Island Aggressor is a 124ft (38 meters) full-board liveaboard that accommodates up to 22 passengers. This boat is built for comfort and stability and with its 11 staterooms and the even nicer 4 master staterooms this boat is built for comfort. All of the rooms have a private bathroom, shower, and air conditioning. Each passenger gets their own spacious locker for their dive gear as well.

For amenities, The Cocos Island Aggressor has a salon, sun deck, loungers and deck chairs, a bar, and a grill to make you feel at home. The menu ranges from lighter meals like hot soups, salads, and sandwiches for lunch to more gourmet dinner meals like salads, seafood, beef, or chicken, BBQ, and even fresh homemade desserts.

If you have any dietary restrictions, vegetarian or vegan just ask them before you depart and they can cater to you. For beverages, juices, soft drinks, water, iced tea, coffee, and a limited selection of local beer and wine are available..

As for diving it is said to rival the Galapagos Islands and you can dive with and possibly see hammerheads, sailfish, marlin eagle rays, whale sharks, whitetip sharks, and whales. The Cocos Island Aggressor gives you multiple dives throughout the day for an average of 21 dives on a 10-night trip. Sadly there is no night diving as of now but that may change in the future.

Cocos Island National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the diving is not to be missed. The staff will transport you to your hotel from the airport and if you are not departing you can take advantage of the jungle crocodile safari, canopy tour, hike through the jungles of Cocos and swim in waterfalls.

Liveaboard Specs:

  • Max number of Guests/ Divers: 22 guests / 4 – 5 dive guides
  • Number of Dives: up to 4 dives per day
  • Number of cabins: 10 cabins
  • Trip Length: 10 nights
  • Wifi: available for an additional fee
  • Nitrox: available for an additional fee
  • Drinks: complimentary soft drinks, beer, and wine
  • Port: Puntarenas, Costa Rica Onshore Excursions: hiking, kayaking, and shore excursions
  • Route/ Itinerary: Cocos Island
  • Camera Station: Yes, with charging points and storage space.

Okeanos Aggressor II

4.3
Pros:
  • Wifi (paid)
  • Modern, luxury cabins
  • Hot tub
  • On land Excursions
Cons:
  • Tricky sites for beginners
  • Longer Trips
  • Extra cost for nitrox
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We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

The second vessel in the Aggressor fleet to make the list, the Okeanos Aggressor II- formerly named Wind Dancer. She runs year-round itineraries to the infamous Cocos Island, known for its pelagic life like schooling hammerheads and manta rays and its wild, remote location.

The Okeanos Aggressor can accommodate up to 22 guests in 11 opulent staterooms. All cabins feature private bathrooms, storage space, entertainment system and individually controlled air-conditioning. A spacious air-conditioned lounge and dining area is where you will enjoy your freshly prepared meals, buffet style for breakfast/ lunch and in the evening the chef will prepare a meal of both local and American  cuisine.

There is also an open air covered dining area and sundeck with loungers, an ideal location for sunbathing between dives or enjoying a complimentary alcoholic drink in the hot tub as the sun goes down. There is Wi-Fi, if needed, which is available for an extra fee.

The shaded diving deck has individual gear stations and two dive tenders for easy transport to dive sites. Nitrox is offered for an extra fee.

Liveaboard Specs:

  • Max number of Guests/Divers: 22 guests / 3 dive guides
  • Number of Dives: Up to 4 dives per day
  • Number of cabins: 11 cabins (10 Deluxe and 1 Suite)
  • Trip Length: 10 or 11 nights
  • Wifi: Available for an additional fee
  • Nitrox: Available for an additional fee
  • Drinks: Complimentary beer and win
  • Port: Puntarenas, Costa Rica
  • Onshore Excursions: None listed on the website
  • Route/Itinerary: Cocos Island
  • Camera Station: Yes, with individual storage drawers

When To Go To Costa Rica

Most liveaboards in Costa Rica operate year-round though, like many tropical locales, Costa Rica has a rainy and dry season, each with its own pluses and minuses. 

The rainy season is between May and November. The weather is normally quite predictably sunny, but with a couple of hours of rain in the afternoons.

This is an awesome season to dive for advanced divers who love pelagics as big sharks like bull sharks and hammerheads are attracted to the influx of nutrients around Cocos Island. There are also fewer tourists at this time of year, so you can find some great deals. Bear in mind that hurricane season runs from June to November on the Caribbean side, though Costa Rica rarely has any storms, though it is always possible. 

December to May is the dry season for Costa Rica, where very little rain falls. This is the busiest time of year when tourists flock to the tiny country. This time of year offers the best conditions for beginners, with calm seas and visibility exceeding 30m.

Coastal water temperatures are normally between 29° to 85 °F  (26° to 29°C) year-round, though offshore locations such as Cocos Island can be significantly colder. Cool currents from December to March can cause temperatures to plummet to 19oC, but the additional nutrients in the water attract humpback whales, pilot whales, giant oceanic mantas, whale sharks, and other pelagic beauties.

Scuba Diving In Costa Rica

Costa Rica is unique in its diving opportunities. Literally translating to “Rich Coast”, it is bordered by both the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, separated by only 75 miles (120km) of mountainous terrain.

The Caribbean coast is a wonderful paradise for diving. The rich and colorful reefs are thriving with marine life. This is the coast that is the least explored. Many of the coral reefs are protected by the government to ensure the longevity of the species found there. It is generally the shallower and more protected coastline, making it ideal for all divers, but perfect for beginners.

In contrast, the Pacific side is famed for its abundant pelagic life. Usually, these dive sites are calm and suitable for all levels of divers but some locations are known for strong currents. You can enjoy a large marine reserve in the south of the country and a fantastical underwater landscape made up of huge boulders and pinnacles. Many sites are well known for their manta ray encounters and each year, humpback whales migrate up the coast.

The most famous dive sites in Costa Rica are the small offshore islands that are for deep diving (learn more here)  in the Pacific Ocean. The dive sites on these islands are generally deep and can have intense wildlife encounters and unpredictable currents, which makes them best suited to experienced divers.

The Catalina Islands have fascinating caves, formed from local volcanic activity, which are now carpeted in bright corals and filled with reef sharks.

Bat Island is famed for close encounters with its intimidating residents – bull sharks which can gather in large groups.

The pinnacles of Caño Island offer pelagic encounters that most divers dream of manta rays, dolphins, pilot whales, humpback whales, and even pods of orca can be seen here often. 

The small group of Tortuga (Spanish for turtle) Islands has a number of excellent shipwrecks within recreational limits including the Caroline Star and Franklin Chang.

Cocos Island is almost only visited by liveaboards due to the distance. It boasts fantastic pelagic and current diving but the most cited attraction is the iconic image of huge schools of hammerhead sharks, silhouetted against the bright blue ocean.

Conclusion

Costa Rica is one of the best countries for scuba diving in the world, with two fantastic coastlines to explore.

A liveaboard cruise is one of the best ways to explore this beautiful country and offers the only opportunity to dive at remote and world-class dive sites like Cocos Island. These islands are tricky to get to, but they are undoubtedly worth the effort.

Fortunately, jumping on one of these fantastic liveaboards is a super-easy way of enjoying some spectacular diving! Not quite ready to commit to a liveaboard? No problem! Check out our ultimate guide to diving in Costa Rica here, for a look at the terrestrial options available!

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