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Best Liveaboards In Costa Rica

Table of Contents

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.

photo of costa Rica coastline

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. 

FREE Liveaboard Packing Checklist
All the essentials PLUS things you need to pack that you might not have considered! Created by dive professionals working in the industry.
liveaboard packing checklist graphic
FREE Liveaboard Packing Checklist
All the essentials PLUS things you need to pack that you might not have considered! Created by dive professionals working in the industry.
liveaboard packing checklist graphic

Best Liveaboards In Costa Rica

Argo liveaboard in Costa Rica cruising on the ocean
  • AC: Yes
  • # Divers: 10
  • Wifi: No
  • Free Nitrox: Yes
  • Drinks: Yes
  • Price: Low

Argo is a 130ft (40m) luxury yacht that operates year-round, taking divers to the world-famous Cocos Island (only reached my a liveaboard), which is often ranked in the top 10 places to dive in the world.

Catering to a maximum of 18 guests in 9 cabins, there is plenty of breathing space on board the Argo. Each room has an ensuite bathroom with shower and hot water individually controlled air conditioning and a choice of double or twin beds.

Communal areas include the sleek, air-conditioned lounge as well as a spacious sundeck which is ideal for sunbathing between dives or watching the sun go down with a complimentary drink in hand.

Entertainment facilities include a library, TV and DVD systems, BBQ area and observation deck. The chef prepares three fresh meals a day which can be enjoyed in the indoor or alfresco dining areas. 

Diving amenities include rebreather and nitrox capabilities, which are included in the price. A Deepsee submersible is also available for an extra fee and goes to 656 ft (200m). So if you have the extra cash I would go for it. 

Specialized camera and charging stations will ensure your gear stays in perfect working order.

There are three dive tenders to ferry passengers to dive sites and a host of skilled and passionate staff, ready to attend to your every need.

What we love

  • Delicious food
  • Great value for money
  • Air-conditioned cabins
  • Comfortable communal areas

Downsides

  • Shared bathrooms
  • No Wi-Fi
  • Small cabins
  • Longer Time spent en route to destinations 

Leader in Liveaboard Sales

Sea Hunter liveaboard in Costa Rica on the ocean
  • AC: Yes
  • # Divers: 20
  • Wifi: No
  • Free Nitrox: Yes
  • Drinks: Yes
  • Price: Average

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.

 

What we love

  • Built to support divers
  • Very stable in the water
  • Fresh Costa Rican cuisine

Downsides

  • Tricky sites for beginners
  • Long ocean journey
  • No wifi

Leader in Liveaboard Sales

Okeanos Aggressor liveaboard in Costa Rica sitting on calm water
  • AC: Yes
  • # of Divers: 22
  • Wifi: Extra
  • Nitrox: Yes, Extra Charge 
  • Drinks: Yes
  • Price: High

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.

What we love

  • Luxury facilities
  • Complimentary drinks service
  • Fresh Costa Rican cuisine
  • 3 Tier CameraTable
 

Downsides

  • Tricky sites for beginners
  • Long ocean journey
  • Expensive and Park Fees

with Worldwide Shipping

Okeanos Aggressor II in Costa Rica anchored in blue waters
  • AC: Yes
  • # of Divers: 22
  • Wifi: Extra
  • Nitrox: Extra
  • Drinks: Yes
  • Price: High

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.

What we love

  • Wifi (paid)
  • Modern, luxury cabins
  • Hot tub
  • On land Excursions 

Downsides

  • Tricky sites for beginners
  • Longer Trips
  • Extra cost for nitrox

Leader in Liveaboard Sales

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. 

bullsharks or hammerheads

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

vibrant reef photo of a popular spot in costa rica, or people on a popular coasta rican beach/ island (like the catalina islands)

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.

map graphic of costa rica, maybe showing popular dive sites if one is available

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!

Welcome to our blog!
Austin on a dive baot
I am a PADI Divemaster based in South Florida. With nearly 10 years of diving experience, I have accumulated the knowledge to help readers become better divers, buy their next piece of gear, and plan their dream dive vacation! Please contact me if you have any questions.

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FREE Liveaboard Packing Checklist

All the essentials PLUS things you need to pack that you might not have considered! Created by dive professionals working in the industry.

FREE Liveaboard Packing Checklist

All the essentials PLUS things you need to pack that you might not have considered! Created by dive professionals working in the industry.
liveaboard packing checklist graphic