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

Ocotal Beach Resort, Dec, 2008,

by R and K Rankhorn, IL, United States ( 2 reports). Report 4914.

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

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 76 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 20 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales > 2
Corals 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 N/A Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments 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, diveadvice@yahoo.com 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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