Trip Report Cocos, March 27-April 5, 2017

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scubadada

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Here is my Undercurrent narrative and a few photos:

Reservations: I made my boat reservations through the Aggressor website. It worked perfectly and communication was excellent. My requests for a specific room and nitrox went smoothly. I got a very significant discount on the trip due to an Aggressor anniversary that helped me decide to take this trip. I made my hotel, airport transfer, and extra excursion reservations through Aggressor Adventure Travel. These plans all worked out perfectly. I made my airline reservations myself.


Travel: I flew American Airlines to and from San Jose with one stop in each direction, Charlotte and Miami. My flight to San Jose was perfect. My flight home from San Jose was a nightmare. The flight to Miami was delayed very considerably, luckily I was comfortable staying in the hotel for 5-6 additional hours. The flight to Philadelphia was also delayed. I ended up getting home about 10 hours late and my luggage containing my scuba gear was delayed and ended up being delivered late the next day. Oh well, it happens, better on the way home than on the way down.


In San Jose, I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Forum. The hotel was quite comfortable, quiet, good air conditioning, a fitness center and pool, a good breakfast buffet, and nice employees. The location was good, a choice of good restaurants for dinner right down the street. I had 3 days in San Jose before boarding and took 3 excursions. On the first day, visited Arenal Volcano and Tabacon Hot Springs. It was a very, very long drive, the volcano was partly covered by clouds, but quite impressive. The hot springs were a bit too commercial but relaxing and beautiful grounds. The best trip was on the 2nd day to Doka coffee plantation, Poas Volcano, and La Paz Waterfalls. The Poas main cauldron was eerily beautiful, stark and moonlike. A secondary cauldron was lush, green, and gorgeous. The walk down through the rainforest at La Paz with multiple waterfalls was exquisite. The 3rd excursion was just a half day in San Jose, a few nuggets, but pretty ordinary. I’m very glad I spent the extra time in San Jose, unlikely I’ll ever get back.


Boat and Crew: The Okeanos II is not a new boat but it is in good shape and well cared for. Our passage in both directions was smooth sailing, but, I hear it can be quite rough. My seasickness meds went unused. I shared one of the regular cabins with a nice young man from the Netherlands, who was my buddy. I had the lower, double bed, quite comfortable. The room had good size, adequate storage, good air conditioning, and a good bathroom with reasonable shower/hot water. The salon/dining room was comfortable. Meals were served buffet style from the bar. The food was generally quite good, varying from average to excellent.


The crew was great. Mauricio was the captain and one of the DMs, along with Anibal. The steward, William was absolutely wonderful. The chef, Jairol, and his assistant, Esteban, worked wonders. The RIB drivers, Jorge and Carlos were skilled.


The Dive platform was very efficient and easy to use. Each diver had their own tank station with under seat storage. All dives were done from 2 stable RIBs. The tanks and BCs stayed on the RIBs. Fills were all very close to 32% and to an average of 3220 PSI (3100-3350).


Diving: I went to Cocos with very high expectations of seeing large schools of Hammerheads, unfortunately, that was not to be. I did 24 dives in 6 ½ days, including 3 night dives. Many of the dives were to moderately deep max depths, with a dozen deeper than 100 feet and another 6 in the 90s feet. The average depth of these deeper dives was just under 70 feet. The water temperature was highly variable with some pretty distinct thermoclines on some dives. The average water temp was 81 degrees but varied from 76-85. I was never really too warm in my 5 mm full suit but I was often the only warm diver on the cooler dives. The visibility was between about 40 and 70 feet, often somewhere in the middle. Current was generally only moderate, but was brisk on a few dives. On one dive at Alcyone (one of two with a decent line, including Punta Maria), several divers were swept away from the line and had to be retrieved and redropped.


For me, the best dive sites were Manuelita Deep, Alcyone, Dirty Rock, and Punta Maria. We only got to Dos Amigos once due to excessive current. Whitetip Sharks and Marbled Rays were everywhere, often in large schools/groups. We fairly frequently saw solitary Hammerhead and Galapagos Sharks. Several Eagle Rays were seen on a few occasions. We got a brief glance of a Tiger Shark on one dive. We saw no Manta Rays on our visit. We frequently saw schools of larger fish such as Trevally, Tuna, and Jacks. Many of the tropical fish were unusual to me, mainly a Florida/Caribbean diver, such as Leather Bass, Spotfin Burrfish, Spotted Boxfish, Chinese Trumpetfish, Guineafowl Puffer, Bicolor Parrots, Yellowfin and Razor Surgeonfish… The 3 night dives were all very similar, large schools of Whitetip Sharks feeding in the dive and video lights. Though exciting at first, by the last night dive, I went off exploring the reef by myself, mostly with my light off.


I’m very glad I had the opportunity to visit Costa Rica and to dive off Cocos. Not every trip can live up to exceptionally high expectations.

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elbig

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Nice trip report. I am looking forward to one day doing that trip. I would be disappointed by the lack of hammerheads as that is part of the appeal.
 
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scubadada

scubadada

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Nice trip report. I am looking forward to one day doing that trip. I would be disappointed by the lack of hammerheads as that is part of the appeal.
It wasn't that we didn't see many sharks, including Hammerheads. It's just that I wanted to see large schools of Hammerheads. I had been in the Red Sea about a year earlier and it whetted my appetite for more. I had a wonderful time diving off Cocos, maybe next trip, in the Galapagos...
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drrich2

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Fine report. I've been looking forward to it since awhile back in other thread where you mentioned intent to post one. Would be nice to see different species, something I enjoyed when I sampled California diving last year. More surprises.

I suspect Cocos Island is one of those more distant (but not half-way 'round the world), 'advanced' trips that starts appealing to U.S.-based Caribbean divers once they've hit some Caribbean & Florida destinations and start looking farther afield for 'something different,' which in the greater region may put it in 'competition' with the Socorros and Galapagos live-aboards. IIRC, Cocos is warm water diving compared to the Galapagos.

Aside from those sweet Aggressor anniversary deals (took advantage of one a couple years back for a Cayman Aggressor IV trip), I wonder what drives people to one or the other?

Richard.

P.S.: ElBig, meant to write 'warm water,' so I edited it once I saw your post. Thanks.
 
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scubadada

scubadada

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Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
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Fine report. I've been looking forward to it since awhile back in other thread where you mentioned intent to post one. Would be nice to see different species, something I enjoyed when I sampled California diving last year. More surprises.

I suspect Cocos Island is one of those more distant (but not half-way 'round the world), 'advanced' trips that starts appealing to U.S.-based Caribbean divers once they've hit some Caribbean & Florida destinations and start looking farther afield for 'something different,' which in the greater region may put it in 'competition' with the Socorros and Galapagos live-aboards. IIRC, Cocos is water water diving compared to the Galapagos.

Aside from those sweet Aggressor anniversary deals (took advantage of one a couple years back for a Cayman Aggressor IV trip), I wonder what drives people to one or the other?

Richard.
Thanks Richard,

You are the current king of the trip report. I would imagine that many relatively experienced divers have Cocos on their bucket list. It is a great trip, but at a cost, not only financial. The day and a half passage in both directions makes it a 10 day trip. With travel, and perhaps a little extra time, there goes two weeks. It is a pretty serious trip, certainly not for everyone. My wife is not as avid a diver as I am. Like you, this is a trip to do by myself. I only take one trip a year like this and am very grateful that I have a wife that realizes how important diving is to me. The discount I got on this trip certainly made it easier to accept.

I'm probably going to do Galapagos this year, partly because I will not be young enough and healthy enough to do these trips forever. It is very exciting to dive a new place, with unique and unexpected findings. I'll do it as long as I can.

Very best and good diving, Craig
 

elbig

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Of course. Warm water. I thought it might be some diving term I wasn't familiar with. You never know. There are a lot of dive related acronyms and terms out there.
 

Rusty Liam Booth

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I went on the okeanos 1 in late june. We had an amazing week!! Cocos is better in the rainy season which runes from June to November. We had the classic schooling hammerhead shot at dirty rock and alcyone, very close up hammerheads at manuelita tiger sharks on two dives and galapagos sharks and black tips, silver tips and a huge manta ray at dos amigos, eagle rays and a rare turtle. Turtles are rare due to the resident tiger sharks. Honestly, best dive place of the my life, the island itself is magic, my dive buddy said it blows socorro out of the water. I loved it, it's the whole "adventure" of sailing for that long and being the only dive boat there. ( argo had snapped it's prop on the way out so saw a bit of undersea hunter but departed after two days) we did the fishing boat that got swamped by sea shepherd in sharkwater, that raised an interesting conversation.
 
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