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Dive Review of Ocotal Resort in
Costa Rica/Gulf of Papagayo

Ocotal Resort, Sep, 2003,

by Carl Scott, TX, USA (Contributor Contributor 16 reports). Report 709.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Thailand, Indonesia, Palau, Caymans, Cozumel, USVI, Belize
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas surge
Water Temp 79 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 20 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions There was a time limit for each dive, as this operator has chosen to return by a set time each day. Time limit was typically 45 minutes. Otherwise, they want the group to stay together the entire dive, profile controlled by guide.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments There was a rinse bucket on the boat only 1 day. Otherwise, there is no safe place for camera storage aboard the boat. Dive staff inconsistent with respect to consideration of photographers both in and out of the water.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 2 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments This is a decent resort, and I'd probably return again. The restaurant is consistently good, and the rooms very clean and well-maintained. However, service was not as good as I experienced 2 years ago (the staff is highly unresponsive, though polite, to guests). The dive staff remains well-organized and competent, though. Boats are adequate for small groups, but may be crowded in busier months. Dive staff not permitted to allow divers to finish tanks within no-deco limits, if doing do would result in the boat failing to return to shore by 1 PM. Negotiating with dive shop manager gave some leeway, but not much.

Marine life is abundant, with multiple 6' white tips on most dives, though enormous schools of pelagic fish were absent during this visit (reports are they haven't stopped frequenting the area - it just wasn't my week). Saw many morays of several different species at most sites, puffers were plentiful everywhere, King and Cortez angels were spotted on nearly every dive (brightly colored juveniles, as well). Some species, such as frogfish and seahorses are being kidnapped and sold to aquarium wholesales, so these are hard to find. September is mating season for turtles, so many pairs were spotted at the surface between dives. Whales (probably humbacks) and porpoise could be heard in the water, but few were seen. Vis was good (60+')the first 2 days, but gradually declined to about 20' on the last day. The Catalina Islands is, in my opinion, worth the supplement, but Punta Gorda was my favorite site - the only one with much coral and a nice population of reef fish to keep you company on the safety stop. Note: This is not a place for "scenic diving", as there are very few reefs and vis can be low. However, marine life is abundant and different from any other place I've been.

Although the restaurant is wonderful at this resort, it costs 2-3 times what the restaurants in town charge. I highly recommend getting out to the the town of Coco for meals. There is a free bus to town several times each day, or a taxi can be had for about $3.75 each way. My favorites were Matapalo (but don't stay after dark), Milanés, and Guajira (on the beach).

For transportation to this area from San José, I recommend taking a taxi. It's cheaper (costs around $100 each way) than what the travel agents will try to sell you (up to $400 round trip), and just as good. Trip is 4 hours minimum, depending on mountain traffic and how long you stop for lunch. Bus service is also available for dirt cheap, but you'll need someone local to assist you with this option.
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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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