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Dive Review of Ocotal Diving/Ocotal Beach Resort in
Costa Rica/Guanacaste

Ocotal Diving/Ocotal Beach Resort, Aug, 2006,

by Craig Wood, PA, USA (Contributor Contributor 16 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 2997.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Grand Cayman, Bonaire, Key Largo, Cozumel, Maui, Oahu
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 80 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Descend with dive masters and group, generally stay with group (reasonable leeway), those low on air ascend with 1st dive master, others allowed to stay down longer and ascend with 2nd dive master. Would have appreciated more bottom time based on both air and no deco time.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales >2
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments No dry table, rinse tank would be small for large, bulky gear.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments My wife, daughter, and I decided to spend the last week of summer vacationing in Costa Rica, a country we had not had an opportunity to visit previously. We wanted to get in a few days of diving and to have a chance to explore the country the other days. Ocotal Beach Resort/Ocotal Diving turning out to be a fantastic choice to meet our needs. We chose the resort/dive operator based on previous Undercurrent reviews, an extremely informative website, and responsive email communication.
Ocotal Beach Resort is located in Playa Ocotal, an easy 30 minute drive from the airport in Liberia. It is located on a hillside overlooking the beautiful Pacific. We stayed in one of their comfortable bungalow rooms with its own small pool. A delicious buffet breakfast at their restaurant, Roca Bruja, was included with our room. The resort has beautiful grounds, easy access to a nearly private, large beach, and a nice, small exercise facility. Howler monkeys migrated through the resort frequently and iguanas, lizards, and exotic birds were everywhere.
It was a pleasure dealing with Ocotal Diving, located near the beach in the center of the resort. The boats depart from the beach in front of the dive shop. Check-in was quick and painless. They took our equipment and it was set up on the boat for each day of diving. They rinsed, dried, and stored the equipment between dives. Being freed up from dealing with all your equipment each day is an incredible luxury. Ocotal Diving has five 32 foot boats though no more than 2 were used during our stay. The boats are reasonably fast and comfortable. They have heads, protected fresh water camera tanks, protected areas, and water, soft drinks and snacks. There are no more than 10 divers with 2 dive masters per boat; we always dived with fewer than the maximum number of divers. We took 6 dives during our stay, 2 local (Aquarium and Shark Point), 2 at Catalina's Islands (The Wall, Elephant Rock), and 2 at Bat Islands (Big Scare, Black Rock). The diving is considerably different than that in the Caribbean being mostly volcanic rock rather than hard coral. The sea life was incredibly prolific and much of it also new to divers familiar with the Caribbean. Some highlights included Whitetip Reef Sharks, Devil Rays, Jewel Morays, Panamic Green Morays, Reef Cornetfish, King Angelfish, Bumphead Parrotfish, and Guineafowl Puffers. Unfortunately, the resident Bull Sharks were absent from our Bat Islands dive but a huge off-season Manta Ray was a nice consolation prize. During surface intervals we saw mating turtles, Humpback Whales and porpoises. The personnel of Octotal Diving were uniformly helpful, considerate, and friendly. We enjoyed getting to know Liv, Diana, and Felipe in the office and Sergio and Diego on the boats.
On non-diving days, we toured the countryside. We took a fabulous boat tour of Palo Verde National Park and saw crocodiles, iguanas, bats, white-faced monkeys, and exotic birds including blue heron and egrets. A trip to Rincon de la Vieja National Park was a great way to spend a day and we spotted a Coatamundi walking around near the part entrance. We dined at several fine, relatively inexpensive restaurants including Roca Bruja in the resort, Picante in Bahia Pez Vela (just below Playa Ocotal), Vida (excellent Peruvian food in Playa del Coco), and Father Rooster's (adjacent to the resort in Playa Ocotal). Shopping in Playa del Coco was easy and fun.
We had a great time on our week in Costa Rica; our only complaint was that it was too short a period of time to enjoy all of the diving and other activities the friendly country had to offer. We hope to have the opportunity to return to Ocotal Beach Resort/Ocotal Diving to start where we left off.
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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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