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Dive Review of Sea Hunter/Grano de Oro in
Costa Rica/Cocos Island

April, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Michael D Smith, OK, US
Reviewer   (3 reports)
Report Number 6021
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Several Caribbean islands, Bahamas and Exumas.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry  
choppy, currents  
Water Temp
80   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 75    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
All dives were led by a Dive Master, but some freedom was afforded. Maximum
depth was 120 ft. Bottom times were maximized based on individual site
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Tropical Fish
5 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
I am not a UWP, but several on this trip had cameras and at least two
professionals were in our group.  All photographers expressed praise for
the camera facilities and service by the crew. 
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
5 stars    
This was our first trip to the Pacific and our first live aboard trip.  We
saw two documentary films about Cocos Island, one last year on NatGeo,
which generated our interest in taking a trip there, and also, the must see
. . . Shark Water, so we some idea of what to expect in the way of sea

Our experience exceeded our expectations in every way.  Dive for dive, the
best trip ever for us.  Lots of shark action on every dive, rays in herds,
enormous schools of Jacks, dozens of octopus, turtles, morays, lobster
everywhere, reef fish and smaller critters galore. The structures, though
very healthy, are not as colorful and coral laden as most of the Caribbean
. . . I think I only saw one small sea fan . . . but the fish life and
other critters easily make up.   Most dives were to 80 feet plus which
limited bottom times but a few of the afternoon dives were shallower and an
hour long. 

All the dive sites were good to excellent with Alcyone claiming the top
choice across the board.  Our group made three visits and I believe the
other group did as well.  "Hammerhead wallpaper" was how one of
our fellow divers described our second dive on the site and I couldn't
agree more. Moderate to strong currents on every dive make Cocos a trip not
well suited for inexperienced divers. Getting caught by very strong
currents and a raging rain storm after a great dive at Alcyone turned the
usual short easy boat ride back into a reminder of the power of the sea and
deepened our appreciation for the skill, experience and quality of our boat
captains and dive masters.    

The daily schedule was 7:00 AM for the first dive, followed by breakfast. 
Second dive at 10:30AM with lunch at 12:30PM and the third dive at 2:30PM. 
Dinner at 7:00PM. Each group did one night dive, though more night dives
were available by request.  

The entire crew was first rate in every category. Cruise Director/Dive
Master Wilson Cadavid was both entertaining and helpful. Dive Master,
Esteban Rojas was excellent in the water and both provided good briefings. 
Both pointed out a few small critters, including two or three batfish and a
zebra moray, organized us for shark viewing at the cleaning stations, MOL
led the swimming, drifting and assent portions of our dives and did a good
job of keeping track of us when the viz was poor.  At a couple of sites,
the panga was moored, with decent and assent on the line, but on most
dives, the panga followed and picked us up in one or more groups at the end
of the dive.  The pangas fold-up ladder extended well below the surface,
fitted with wide steps and secure handles, made getting back on board safe
and as easy as possible.  Most boat rides were only five minutes each way. 

Our dive rigs stayed on the pangas. Two pangas handled all the divers,
which were broken up into two groups.  Tanks were refilled between dives.
All diving is on Nitrox and our tanks were always 3100 + PSI.  Plenty of
dive deck hanging space for wet-suits along with both wet and dry storage
lockers made managing dive gear easy.   Warm showers for rinsing off
between dives and large clean towels were always provided on the dive deck.

The Deep See submarine was on board for this trip and about half the guests
made a trip.  Two trip options were available.  One to about 300 and one
to 1000.  The cost was $1200 and $1800 respectively.  We didnt make a
Deep See trip.  Unbelievable and experience of a life time were the
usual comments from those who did.  

Our cabin (#8) was clean and comfortable.  The small, clean bathroom had
plenty of storage and the plumbing worked well . . . what can beat a hot
shower at the end of the diving day? Getting accustomed to the engine noise
and vibration on the 30 hour trip out and back didn't take as long as I
imagined, and the other boat noises didn't keep us from sleeping well every

The Salon is comfortable and quiet and the upper sun deck has a shaded area
as well as plenty of space to catch some rays and the deck furniture was
clean and comfortable. There is also a library with a computer. No internet
or cell phone service but a satellite phone is available for emergency

An optional afternoon two hour round-trip hike up to a waterfall was worth
doing, but I'll skip it next time. The trail is steep, muddy and a little
treacherous . . . at least for a 68 year old guy.  Cell phone service is
available on the lush island, which is uninhabited except for a handful of
park rangers and volunteers.  

The food was tasty, well prepared, good quality with plenty of variety. But
after ten days, I was totally ready for a meal from another kitchen. The
Chef and food service crew were attentive and accommodated special dietary
requests.  A refrigerator and ice machine in the Salon and Dining Room held
soft drinks and beer are included in the cost of the trip and wine in the
$25 to $35 per bottle range is available.   Fruit and backed snacks greeted
us following most dives and there were always plenty of chips, cookies etc.
around with hot pop corn often out in the evening.   

I had a delayed luggage problem (dive gear of course) upon arrival in San
Jose that would have been less of a problem had we arrived a full day or
two ahead rather than on the last flight of the day prior to departing. But
I was able to pick up my bag at the airport the next morning and catch up
with the Sea Hunter waiting for me just outside the harbor at Puntarenas.  

The on land portion of our stay was at the Grano de Oro near downtown in
San Jose. A wonderful old hotel with a fabulous restaurant. We enjoyed a
few days after our Sea Hunter trip visiting the country side around San
Jose and lots of urban trekking to museums, parks and restaurants. A couple
of our favorite eateries were Tin Jo and The Park Grill.

All in all, a great trip that I would do again in a heart beat.  

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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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