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Dive Review of Undersea Hunter in
Costa Rica/Cocos Island

November, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Peter Belden, CA, USA
Report Number 1477
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Cozumel, Maui, Vancouver, Monterey, Moorea, Belize, Maldives, Ixtapa, La
Paz, San Diego, Channel Island, Grand Turk, Little Cayman, St. Barts
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

choppy, noCurrents  
Water Temp
76   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
60 minutes but it never came up.  Dives were too deep for 60 min anyway. 
No deco diving!  If anyone needed chamber treatment it would instantly
force the boat to make the 36 hour trip back to the mainland cancelling the
trip for everyone.    
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
5 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  
1 stars  
E6 processing no longer offerred.  Each photographer is given there own
camera cubby.  Large rinse tank shared.  Dry air available to blow dry
camera gear.  Crew experienced with photography and videography
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
5 stars    
Cocos is ONLY for experienced divers.  The dives are all deep, currents can
be ripping, safety stops can become blue water drifts and the swell at the
surface can be significant.  Everyone on board dove Nitrox the whole trip. 
It's a must given the depths.  

However for those with the necessary skills and experience it is the
destination of a lifetime: schools of hammerheads, night dives with feeding
frenzied white tips sharks, plus many sightings of black tips, silkies,
galapagos sharks, and even silvertips.  One day we had a short but magical
snorkling encounter with some passing dolphins.  Also on dives saw two
mobula mantas, some yellowfin tuna, big wahoo, schools of big-eye trevally
that literally blocked out the sun, tens of marbled rays together, batfish,
lobster, ocotopi, small schools of eagle rays, lots of eels and snake eels,
and another diver saw a sailfish.  The sheer number of fish is amazing. 
The national park protection really shows in how plentiful the fish life is
compared to many other desinations whose fish have been decimated by nearby

The schedule was three dives per day and then generally a fourth night
dive.  The hammerheads are very shy so the dive routine is to descend to 90
feet, grab the bottom, hold completely still and then wait for them to
emerge from the blue.  Even a small fin flutter can suddenly cause the
sharks to vanish.  They are very skittish and to get a close shot when the
sharks approach you need to hold in the bubbles.  

We were unusually lucky that only on 2 dives out of 20 was the current bad.
 But on those 2 dives the current was an overpowering 5 knots, our exhaled
bubbles moving sideways not up, and you were holding on to the rock with a
full hand.  Therefore gloves are a must in Cocos.  Those without gloves cut
their hands on the barnacles as they gripped for life fighting the current,
and no one wants their hands cut up where there are 6 species of shark
constantly in the vacinity.  We were also lucky to have calm seas.  It's
easy to jump into 4 foot swell but climbing out of it into a skiff is much
harder.  Apparently larger swell and unpredictable currents are the norm. 

The Undersea Hunter is the highest quality live-aboard.  Excellent crew,
good food, and nice rooms each with it's own bathroom.  There is even a
warm fresh water shower on the dive deck.  All divers are given an extra
large safety sausage, a small signaling light, a whistle and an EPIRB
(emergency position indicating radio beacon).  Divers have been lost at sea
at Cocos, although never by the Undersea Hunter.  Our panga driver reported
having "picked up" several divers who had drifted beyond sight
from the Aggressor...  I had also heard that the Aggressor dingies were
very hard to climb back into and upon seeing them I now know why.  I prefer
the much larger pangas with ladders and tank racks that are used by the
Undersea Hunter.  

Rebreather courses are apparently no longer offerred on board unless there
is a group request.  Important to figure this out before paying.  We were
able to to get to the hammerheads despite being on open circuit (not using

Bring a sweater and warm hat for potentially cool evenings.  The other 8
divers on the boat were from Germany, France, Israel and one from the U.S. 
All but 2 were either assistant instructors or commerical divers.  Cocos is
for experienced divers only.
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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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