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Dive Review of Okeanos Aggressor in
Costa Rica/Cocos Island

Okeanos Aggressor, Aug, 2008,

by Brent Barnes, OK, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 4400.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Cayman, Saba, St. Eustatius, Florida Keys, Cozumel, California, Bahamas
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather rainy Seas choppy, currents
Water Temp 74 to 83 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

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

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks 1 or 2
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Large, separate rinse buckets for cameras with large 3-tiered camera table. Recharging of batteries must be done in salon of the Aggressor, cannot be done in individual cabins. Ample space for cameras though there will always be multiple large camera setups on board.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Flew into to San Jose two days before our departure. Spent a day doing white water rafting down the Pacuare River which was fantastic. Multiple companies will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the river for rafting. The pick-up for white water rafting will be early, usually between 6:00 AM and 7:00 AM and return will be late in the afternoon. The Aggressor picks up passengers at the Marriott Courtyard and Alta Hotel in San Jose before a 3 hour departure to Puntarenas to board the Okeanos Aggressor. The ride is scenic in an air-conditioned small bus though the bus is cramped if the boat is full. The Okeanos departs shortly after everyone boards. The cabins are small but adequate with a double bed and twin bed in bunk bed style. Each cabin has a television with a DVD and a small storage area. Bring multiple movies as it will pass the time on the 34 hour crossing. The crossing was calm but can sometimes be very rough. We had several encouters with large pods of dolphins on the crossing over. The bathrooms are very small, about the size of a closet with nothing but a toilet and shower head. The food was varied and excellent. The crew is outstanding and works very hard to serve all passengers.
The diving is outstanding. Each diver has a dive locker with ample room to hold dive gear. You set up you gear for the first dive which will be a giant stride off the Okeanos for a check-out dive in Chatham Bay. After that, gear is kept on pangas and you do not need to touch it until the end of the trip. After the initial check out dive, all dives are off pangas with 10 divers per panga. The two dive masters switch pangas each day so you get to work with both. Both divemasters (Javi and Berto) were excellent. Requests for dive sites were solicited and generally followed. Dives are generally deep approaching 100 feet though divers may certainly stay more shallow for longer dives. Dive times of 50 minutes are suggested but not strictly enforced. Dives are guided but you may choose to dive your own profile and many divers did. There are not many dive sites so you will dive multiple sites many times but almost all sites are outstanding. We dove Manuelita Island eleven times though there are three distinct dives on that island that are all different - Manuelita shallows, Manuelita deep with wall right and Manuelita deep with wall left. Dove Alcyone four times, Dirty Rock three times and other sites once or twice. Saw hammerheads on every dive except Manuelita shallows with large schools at Dirty Rock and Punta Maria. Had close encounters with hammerheads at cleaning stations at Dos Amigos Pequena, Alcyone and Manuelita Island. Alcyone was somewhat disappointing but reportedly has not had as much action this year compared to Manuelita and Dirty Rock. Hammerheads are challenging to take photos of as they are skiddish when around divers and diver bubbles, but all divers had multiple close encounters with them. A large whale shark was seen by one panga at Dirty Rock. Silverado is a dive that allows close encounters with large silvertip sharks as there is a cleaning station there. However, if the silvertips are not there the dive is very boring. We spent 57 minutes at Silverado with no sharks and literally passed the time playing tic-tac-toe in the sand for awhile. Only after a few divers surfaced did 2 silvertips show up and spend 15 minutes swimming closely between us. They are among the most beautiful sharks I have seen. Three frogfish are reliably seen on Manuelita island. The check-out dive at Chatham Bay was outstanding with a nice encounter with a very large manta ray. Mantas were seen on several other dives. A school of thousands of large jacks will almost always be on the pinnacle of Dirty Rock making for great photo opportunites. The diving is challenging but not excessively so. Currents can be strong and actually the stronger the current the more likely you will see pelagics. Throughout our trip, when there was a nice current at Manuelita we would see small groups of eagle rays, mantas or groups of hammerheads. If there was no current we would see much less. Though the currents can be challenging, the panga will pick up divers so you do not have to worry about navigating back to a boat against current. All dives are drift and at the end of your dive you simply do your safety stop and surface and the panga will pick you up. Night dives are allowed only at two sites, Manuelita shallows and Chatham Bay. Manuelita shallows will have large numbers of hunting white-tips each night. They ignore divers and you can acutally drop right down within them while they are hunting and they will not bother you at all. Chatham Bay will have huge numbers of a variety of puffers which allow divers to get up close for photos. All divers are taken on shore for an afternoon during the trip to experience Chatham Bay and the beauty of Cocos Island. Generally, longer hiking excursions are offered later in the trip if weather permits. The island itself is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever seen with many waterfalls and lush rainforest. It is truly a unique place on earth both above and below water. Cocos Island is called the island of the sharks and does not disappoint. My only disappointment was finding out that the trip after us had an greater than one hour encounter with 5 large tiger sharks in Manuelita Shallows less than a week after our trip! Tigers are occasionally seen but they had never seen a group of them - we missed it by only a few days! It appears you never know what to expect at Cocos Island.
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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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