Scuba Diving: East vs West
Sorry for the long silence, things are heating up here at the end of the term with research papers, presentations, and lots of tests.
Two weekends ago I went diving in Playas del Coco. Two weeks before that I was in Puerto Viejo and had a chance to dive there too. The Southern Pacific and the Caribbean.
I dove with four Ticos in Puerto Viejo, got in a total of two dives. Everything was in Spanish as I was the only Gringo. Our first dive was to about 85 ft, I was in a shorty suit maybe 3 mils thick. I wasn´t cold at all. What a change from diving in the Pacific Northwest where with 12 mils over your core, 6 over arms and legs, a hood, gloves, and booties you still freeze! The water was increadibly clear, viz of probably 30-40 ft. I was diving coral reefs! Saw a lot of lion fish and some other cool fish I couldn´t name but not much else. 45 minutes of surface time later we were back in the water again.
I asked the ticos where else in Costa Rica I should dive before I headed home and they all said Playas del Coco. They also recommended a few others but they are harder to get to, might make it happen yet though.
So two weekends later I was in Playas del Coco. Got really lucky and the company the mentioned to me in Puerto Viejo was running a special afternoon dive on Saturday. I got in two really awesome dives with a few people from Costa Rica and a few from Spain. Dove again the next morning.
The pacific is a little colder than the Caribbean, but still just a thin suit away from comfortable at any depth. The viz is not as good disappearing after 10-20 ft, it varied between sites and the two days. The wildlife there is definetly worth the decreased viz though.
I saw three kinds of rays, some a couple meters across. I saw several types of moray eels, they were all hiding in cracks though so I managed not to get eaten by any of them. Rock fish, the best camoflaged fish in the sea. Pufferfish and porcupinefish of a variety of colors also crossed our paths as well as trumpetfish. I swam with whole schools of fish, when you put out your hand the whole school would bubble away from it and they really do make pictures in the water. I swam with a sea turtle, that´s right, be jealous. After seeing one lay her eggs and releasing babies, I got to see one in all its glory in its home beneath the sea. And last, I swam with sharks! White tip reef sharks about as long as I am tall and really not all that interested in, or bothered by, us humans.
So to sum up: for viz, warm water and coral head to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, to see the great biodiversity for which Costa Rica is famous head West to the Gulf of Papagayo.