Do you know that Costa Rica is one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries? Almost 4% percent of the earth’s species have been found in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has coastlines on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. However, some great snorkeling spots are few and far between. Most snorkeling tours combine with other activities including kayaking, dolphin watching and etc. Discover your best snorkeling in Costa Rica; here are some great snorkeling spots, separately located along the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
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Caribbean Coast Snorkeling
The Caribbean Sea is famous for various snorkeling spots. Along the Caribbean coast, there are several great locations for snorkeling. Let’s start our journey on the Caribbean coast! Let me know if your best snorkeling in Costa Rica is in the Caribbean Sea.
Manzanillo Beach has shallow waters for snorkeling. It’s easy to snorkel and see the reefs. Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge has the most virgin forests in Central America. There are crocodiles, manatees, migratory birds and plenty of fish living in the refuge. Manzanillo Beach plays an important role in the existence of several species of sea turtles. During March to July, the leatherback turtles nest their eggs on the shores. It rains a lot in February, March, September, and October. Try to avoid the rainy season.
Cahuita National Park
Cahuita National Park is another good site for snorkeling at the southern coast of the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. Cahuita National Park is one of the smallest national parks in Costa Rica, playing its important role in protecting biologically diverse. The endangered coral reefs, the rainforest, mangrove, and beach habitats are under the protection. The reefs are crucial to many species of marine life, such as blue staghorn, Elkhorn, and brain coral. Over 500 species of fish including parrotfish and angelfish and more than 100 species of mollusks are also living here. If you snorkel in the park, it can only be done with a certified guide to ensure the habitat not damaged. It’s sad to tell you that the reefs are not as vibrant as they were used to be. The coral reefs are very sensitive and even a touch can damage them. Normally, the snorkeling tour includes the snorkeling gear (mask and fins) and a lunch. The best months for snorkeling are April, May, August, September, and October. You can set off from Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, and Punta Uva.
Central Pacific Snorkeling
If you are interested in snorkeling in this area, Manuel Antonio must be your primary choice. Although the water visibility is not that ideal between May and November, you still can see various reef fish such as parrotfish.
Manuel Antonio Beach
Manuel Antonio National Park receives over thousands of tourists every year. The soft white sand and gentle clear waters of Playa Manuel Antonio attract people. Playa Manuel Antonio is a very stunning beach. Playa Biesanz is a perfect snorkeling spot at most times of a year. The peak season starts in December. I would not recommend you to rent a car because of the limited parking spaces. It’s very convenient and cheap (about 50 cents) to take a beach bus, or you can grab a cab. The rain season begins at the end of August to the beginning of November. During the dry season (from December to April), there is always blue skies, heat, and sunshine. Some people believe Manuel Antonio Beach is their best snorkeling in Costa Rica. One little tip for you, Manuel Antonio Beach is inside the national park. You need to save your ticket to visit the beach.
South Pacific Snorkeling
Marino Ballena National Park
Marino Ballena National Park is located at the South Pacific coast of Costa Rica, nearby the town named Uvita. The coast of Costa Ballena is rich in marine life. Humpback, false orca and pilot whales can be found in this area. People are attracted by the whale and dolphin. In addition, olive turtles and Pacific green turtle can be found in the waters. Marino Ballena National Park is the best spot to observe whales in Costa Rica. If you are interested in the huge incredible creature, you can not miss Marino Ballena National Park. Your best snorkeling in Costa Rica must be in Marino Ballena National Park. Most snorkeling tours are done by kayak. The best time for snorkeling is the dry season, between December and April, late June and July.
Cano Island Biological Reserve
Isla del Cano is known as Cano Island. It is located 10 miles offshore from Drake Bay. Cano Island Biological Reserve is another popular snorkeling spot. You can take a boat from Uvita, Sierpe or Drake Bay to get there. Before you go snorkeling, you should pay attention to the weather condition. For more snorkeling tips, you can read the Top 10 Advanced Snorkeling Tips. You are able to see a variety of colorful fish, such as barracuda, eels, manta rays, sea turtles and etc. If you are lucky, you can see migrating humpback whales. It’s easy to book a snorkeling tour that always includes the snorkeling gear, certified guide, and a lunch. The best season to visit is December to April. Cano Island was a Pre-Columbian cemetery. Little sacred, right?
General Costa Rica Snorkeling Travel Tips
Generally speaking, the weather in Costa Rica is not that ideal for snorkeling because of the long rainy season. Bring a rain jacket in the rainy season. But the dry season (December to April) is great for snorkeling. The temperature of mountainous regions could drop a lot. Wear a jacket if you go hiking in the mountains.
Tourist Peak Season
The tourist peak times are during Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter holiday. You need to book your hotels and tickets in advance.
Eating and Drinking Safety
In most tourist destinations, you can drink clean tap water. Unlike other Central America countries, there is much less chance to get a stomachache. Find a looking-clean restaurant to order your meals.
The colon is Costa Rica currency. 500-550 colons = $1 USD U.S. dollars are widely accepted. Compared with other Central America countries, the prices in Costa Rica are a little higher.
The road conditions or traffic are poor due to the climate and terrain. It’s better to check the current road conditions before a day trip.
The country’s main airport is the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). However, if you plan to visit Guanacaste, Monteverde, and La Fortuna areas, the Daniel Oduber International Airport is your primary choice.
If it’s your first time for snorkeling, I strongly recommend you to read “What to prepare for snorkeling? “ and “Top 10 Advanced Snorkeling Tips”, You can find everything you need to know about snorkeling in these articles. As for the snorkeling gear, Seabeast AF90 full face snorkel mask performs outstandingly in anti-fogging. Its foldable design makes it easy-travel.
You are well welcome to add more snorkeling destinations!
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