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Dive Review of Rich Coast Divers/Allegro Papagayo in
Costa Rica/Guanacaste

May, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Randy and Carol Thompson, FL, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (11 reports)
Report Number 4836
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Florida Keys, Jamaica, Florida springs, Southeast Florida, Bonaire, Grand
Cayman East End, Cozumel, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Martin,
Turks&Caicos, Bahamas, Curacao, New Hampshire, Rhode Island,
Massachusetts, Saba, Big Island Hawaii, Maui, Lanai
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, rainy  
choppy, surge  
Water Temp
70   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
25   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
depth limits  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
2 stars
2 stars
Service and Attitude
2 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars    
2 stars   
4 stars    
We dove 3 times with Rich Coast Divers last week. Basically, it's a
reasonably good operation, with a few problems that prevent it from being

After your first day, they handle your gear, rinsing it and hanging to dry,
then setting it up on the boat so that its ready for subsequent dives.
Just be sure to check your gear meticulously before the boat departs. They
forgot my wetsuit and we didn't discover it until they were underway, and
although it was their fault, no way were they turning back to rectify the

Had to make do with one they had on the boat that was way too big with a
smaller, very compressed shortie over the top of it to keep it from
flapping in the current. I dislike using others' wetsuits, which is why we
spend the weight and effort to shlep mine from home. 
Unfortunately, we observed that they did this very same thing to another
woman two days earlier, so it wasn't just an isolated oversight.

Additionally, when we found on our second dive day that the cap had not
been replaced on the my brand new Diva BCD in order to prevent water from
entering the integrated octo port when rinsing, my husband took the time to
explain it to the divemaster, demonstrating how to do it (like theyve
never seen this type of gear before?) and emphasizing how important it is
to do this after disconnecting the hoses and before rinsing in order to
keep the port from becoming flooded. Even so, he found that the it had not
been done the next time, and the same on the day we left. Its not like you
have the option to do it yourself, as they bring the gear in a truck later
after you return to the shop after the dive. Not a good thing for a shop to
be so careless repeatedly with expensive gear.

Be aware that you will have about a 1/4 mile walk from the shop to the
beach and back after the dive.  BTW, we found that wearing our scuba boots
was the way to go on the return to the shop after your dives, as the wet
sand under my sandal straps caused abrasions on my foot the first day.

Also, you can expect a 5% upcharge for using a credit card and no travelers
checks are accepted. According to Brenda, it's very difficult in CR to get
them to clear the bank. Since our credit card charges an additional 3%
upcharge for converting charges in foreign currency (this is common
practice for most US credit cards,) we asked that the charges be put
through in dollars. No go. So count on an 8% mark-up on your final tally,
unless you want to bring a pile of cash.

No discounts for multiple dives, unless you plan on doing 5 days or more.
Its a straight $80 for a morning 2-tank dive. $150 for a trip to Bat
Island. Don't remember the price for Catalina Island.

Most days, few other divers on their stable trimaran, which was a pleasure.
However, on our first day, it was a bit of a cattle boat. We were
butt-to-butt trying to suit up. Not fun.

Absolutely LOVED our divemaster two of the days, Stefan, a tall blond Swiss
dude who speaks impeccable English and is easy-going, kind, very attentive
and untimately safety conscious. He's easily one of the best divemasters
we've ever had. Dove one day with Earl, a nice enough guy, but he can be a
little prickly. He didn't like that I pinged my tank too many times to get
my husband's attention, and told me I was rationed to one, single ping,
essentially because it irritated him to have to look back to see that I was
OK. And he wasn't even our divemaster when this happened- Stefan was. 

Sometimes, I can't get my husband's attention with one ping, and sometimes
I do a lot of pinging if something's hard to keep an eye on because of the
current and I need him to come fast before I lose sight of it.  

Gotta say, I've been diving 19 years, and this was the very first time I've
ever been taken to task by a divemaster for anything, let alone something
so trivial. It didn't sit well with me. Additionally Earl swam us against a
ripping current not once, but twice. On the last dive I was so exhausted I
had to end the dive  Why on earth swim AGAINST a strong current, when you
can simply turn around and enjoyably watch the show blow by? Made
absolutely no sense whatsoever. I was so exhausted, it was hard to climb
the ladder. 

You'll see lots of white-tip reef sharks, a few turtles, a variety of
morays (saw not one,but TWO huge zebra morays!)more spotted eagle rays than
you can count, mammoth stingrays, octopus, and more puffers than you have
ever seen in your life! As far as macro stuff, we saw at least one
nudibranch per day. The viz is nothing like in the Caribbean - close to
probably 30' or so on the average - but the big stuff you'll see more than
compensates. Lots of thermoclines where the temperature (about 81 degrees
on the surface) can dip as much as 10-15 degrees makes deciding on a
wetsuit a bit of a crapshoot.. Since we encountered several thermoclines on
almost every dive, Id suggest planning for those few interludes of
frigidity, then just unzipping a little if youre too warm in between,
since better too warm than not warm enough.

Other than the aforementioned caveats, youll no doubt have a great time.
Although theyre not the best operation we've ever been out with, theyre
certainly far from the worst. Pre-dive briefings are informative. Safety is
a clear priority. It's a solid operation, and affable Dutch owners Brenda
and Martin van Gestel see things go smoothly. 

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Subscriber's Comments

By gary brown in AR, US at May 27, 2013 05:49 EST  
Best to of just left off paragraph 5,6,8,9 and 10.too much whining!
By Carol A Thompson in FL, US at May 27, 2013 12:17 EST  
Thanks for the informative, constructive comment.
By Carol A Thompson in FL, US at May 27, 2013 14:13 EST  
Thanks for the informative, constructive comment.
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Other dive reports on Rich Coast Diving

All Costa Rica Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Costa Rica
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