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Dive Review of Ocotal Beach Resort in
Costa Rica/El Ocotal, Arenal, San Jose

December, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by R and K Rankhorn, IL, United States (2 reports)
Report Number 4914
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Cuba, Egypt, Saba, Hawaii, Maldives, Dominica, Mexico, Australia, New
England, Cayman Island, Honduras, Bonaire, midwest lakes
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, no currents  
Water Temp
76   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
5 stars  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
5 stars   
3 stars    
We left Chicago in a snow storm, probably the last flight that made it out
that morning and were on the beach by 2 PM in high 80 degree weather. We
arranged our trip through Dominick Macan, who is in
partnership with Amazing Adventures Travel CA. We were more then happy with
all the arrangements he made for us. We arranged our own flights through
DELTA and flew in to Liberia. The resort was about 40 minutes from the
airport. Hotel is very comfortable, get in building 4 as there is a better
view of the ocean and right near the pool and spa. Iguanas roam around the
pool and are like pets begging for food. Rooms have A/C, and plenty of hot
water. Little front patio with table and chairs for sitting out on. Also a
good place to dry gear.  Watch for big snakes at night. Big hill down to
dive shop but hotel has vans that will shuttle you or you can walk.
Breakfast buffet has local hot dishes, a variety of eggs, cold cereal and
plenty of fresh fruit. Lunch and dinner are also served there and by the
pool near the dive shop (lunch only) but we usually took a cab ($6) in to
town and tried a variety of the local cuisine. Being there over the
Christmas and New Years holidays plenty of places were offering great food
and drink specials. Terrific Italian gelato place in town. We signed up for
5 days of diving and stayed 7 but the dive shop gave us the flexibility to
dive any of those days even Christmas Day. Each day we were on the same
twin diesel boat which fit 10 divers but never had more then 4 others with
the two of us. 2 dive masters and a boat captain and one extra hand so
there was plenty of personal attention. They checked C cards on first day.
Equipment was available to rent, extra charge for Nitrox. Boats left at 8am
and most dive sites were within 30 minutes. 2 dives in the am, surface time
spent on the boat except one day we went close to shore where we could swim
and walk the beach. Extra charge for traveling to Bats or Catalina and
those trips are longer. Rainy season had just ended and water was still
cloudy so visibility was limited except for the last day when there had
been a very hard rain over night and the waters were much clearer.  The
seas were calm and every day was sunny and temps in the high 80's. As the
afternoon approached it got windier and the seas more choppy but we were
back at the dive shop by 1:00 each day. Showers near the shop and a great
pool to take a dip in. Tanks all were 3000 psi. Dive masters asked you to
surface with 500 psi. Dives were 60-80 feet and 50-60 minutes but a couple
went over 60 minutes. Dive masters kept an eye on you but let you do your
own thing. They pointed out creatures along the way.  Wreck dive at
Tortuga. We found frogfish, scorpion fish and stonefish. Guides pointed out
seahorses at Meadows dive site. On our surface wait we were entertained by
4 humpback whales one being a young one. The captain did an excellent job
not to interrupt their play but kept us close enough to get an excellent
view. Another day a school of dolphins followed along side the boat.
Biggest sea life was at Argentina Reef with white tip reefs sharks, nurse
sharks, several mantas, morays, and small rays. Even saw an octopus here. 
The best coral we saw was at Fat Point which is also where the small
creatures were. Fish life was fairly abundant, grouper, snapper, parrot
fish, wrasses, puffers, triggerfish, trumpet fish, butterfly fish, trevally
and jacks. Each surface interval had plenty of snacks, water, juice, and
fresh fruit to eat. They asked everyone to recycle plastics and had a
separate container for them. Dive masters were very personable and enjoyed
chatting. Crew took care of all your gear bringing it out to the boat daily
and bringing it all back in and rinsing everything thoroughly. Racks to
hang gear so all gear was dry each day.  With the diving being average the
crew was above and went out of their way to help and assist wherever they
could. They made sure we did not dive the same places unless we asked.
Costa Rica is a service oriented country. We traveled to Arenal in the rain
forest and stayed at Volcano Lodge. Great place to get massages after days
of diving. Had one perfectly clear day to see the volcano, temps ranged in
the high 70's. Rain at night and the days were cloudy.  Lots to do in the
area, river tour, hot springs, white water rafting, ATV tours, horse back
riding and of course zip lining in the rain forest, a definite in Costa
Rica. Take a river tour of some kind to see their great variety of wild
life such as the crocs and iguanas. Did our touring with Bill Beard. They
were a very efficient organization, on time for every tour, friendly and
helpful guides. Flew out of San Jose. Trip was a great value and a nice
break from brutal Chicago winter.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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