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Dive Review of Aggressor Fleet in
Costa Rica/Cano Island

Aggressor Fleet: "Great macro; not so great cold, current, and surge", Mar, 2018,

by Carol D Cox, FL, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 20 reports with 13 Helpful votes). Report 10200 has 1 Helpful vote.

Photos Submitted with this Report

Click on an image to see an enlarged version and captions

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food N/A
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments Cano Island, March 2018

This was the second part of back-to-back trips on the Okeanos I. We had just done a 10-day trip to Cocos Island, followed by 3 days on shore, and now were doing the trip to Cano Island.

Aggressor agreed to pick us up at the Doubletree in Puntarenas instead of one of the normal pick-up points in San Jose. The Doubletree was on their route and it is the only place I found in Puntarenas that had rental car service which we used for an excursion to La Fortuna Volcano. We really appreciated them doing this for our group of 5 travelers.

We had 4 less divers than the week we had done Cocos Island, and the extra space was very welcome. The bottleneck to get to the buffet line was no longer a problem. There was more room to gear up on the pangas, and even with the addition of a monster-sized camera kit, there was more room on the camera table. My friends in the quad had the luxury of an empty bed to use as extra storage.

My husband and I were in the same room as the previous trip. Our door opened right out onto the sundeck, which was very convenient. However, there was still no room number on the door. On our first trip, we had several people walk in on us, looking for a bathroom. This time, the cruise director was quick to tape a number on our door when I asked and we didn’t have the same problem. We were welcomed onboard with cocktails. We found a new steward onboard, and soon learned that Jarel was a great mixologist.

This time around, there was more of a rush to assemble dive gear and cameras because we would be diving first thing in the morning. We had the usual briefings, followed by dinner, and then assembled all our gear in anticipation of our 7:00 am dive the next morning. We were dismayed to hear that night dives were also cancelled in Cano Island (we knew the night dives at Cocos were cancelled because of the shark attack). We were told that they were never supposed to be doing the night dives on Cano Island, and the rangers made them quit. In fact, as of writing this review, the website still says there will be 3 night dives a week.

We arrived at Cano Island sometime in the night. Our first dive was a bit of a shock after doing Cocos Island for a week. Vis was 40-ft at best, currents were strong, there was surge, and the thermoclines dropped down to a chilly 72. I have to say that Aggressor did mention these conditions on their website – “Most of the action at El Caño Island can be seen between 30 - 100 feet with visibility between 20 - 80 feet. This is Pacific diving with thermoclines that range from 70 - 84 degrees with diving conditions that include surge and mild to strong currents.” After the first dive, I broke out the core-warmer that I never needed in Cocos.

However, I forgot the currents and chilly temps when I set my eyes on my first panamic barnacle blenny with it’s bulging orange eyes and pink lips. I soon found myself gleefully snapping away at colorful macro-photography subjects. I fell in love with the beautiful signal triplefins courting under the overhangs, and the photo-bombing redheaded gobies. I soon learned to check every moray eel for inornate gobies. One of our divemasters managed to find a couple of nudibranchs and a flatworm. For wide-angle photographers, there were large schools of snappers and grunts, blackfin barracuda, long-tailed stingrays, and a few whitetip reef sharks, but the visibility made for challenging conditions. By mid-trip, several photographers were inspired to try their hand at the abundant macro life. We also saw a mother and calf humpback whale from our panga. We followed them a short distance until they dived and gave us a lovely view of the tail.

The currents were so strong at times, some of our dives had to be moved to more protected locations. Most of the time, divers were dropped off in line with a mooring buoy that had been set by the divemaster. On one of our worst days, when the crew told us to back-flip in, I knew I wasn’t lined up to catch the buoy, but obediently back-rolled in. My husband, who was on the side of the boat closer to the buoy and a strong swimmer, didn’t make it. In fact, the divemaster was the only diver who made it to the buoy. The panga had to pick up all the divers and try again. This time they dropped fewer divers off. My 4 buddies were all in the water before me. When they told me and the other divers to go, I knew we weren’t in line again. I simply said “no” as the other divers back-rolled in and missed the buoy again. The crew lined me up correctly, and then motored off to collect the other divers for a third drop. On another occasion, by the time I was told to go, I not only landed on the metal mooring buoy, but the diver that was directly below it. My fin got caught on either the buoy or the diver, and while dis-entangling myself and trying to bend around to see if the other diver was OK, I lost my grip on the buoy. This time, the crew grabbed me by the BC and towed me to the buoy – undignified but effective. Sometimes, the weight of the divers on the buoy line would drag the buoy several feet below the surface so you could only see it by diving below the surface and hoping you could get down to it before the current whisked you away.

The crew did their best to make up for the lack of night dives. We were allowed to do 4 dives on one day versus the usual 3. There was a trip to the beach on Cano Island, and a shore excursion to one of the national parks. And a couple of evenings we had outdoor cookouts on the top deck. This is where Jarel really proved his skills as a mixologist, having worked at some nice resorts. There were mojitos, strawberry daiquiris, rum punch, and margaritas to be had. The cook even did a few steaks medium rare when I requested “roja”. I would have preferred a few night dives, but the cookouts and drinks were nice.

In all, we did 18 dives on 10 dive sites. Three dives were at El Faro, and three were at Barco Hundido. The crew tried to do back to the two Paraiso dive sites on our last day, further from land with better visibility, but the currents were too strong even for the divemasters to set mooring buoys for the divers. Visibility was anywhere from 20 to 45 feet. Temperatures were 72 on the bottom to 80 on the surface. Surface currents were wickedly strong, and even on the bottom you would have to cling to the rocks to get around the corner of the reef, or turn around and go back. This is not good diving for beginners, but I don’t want to scare everyone off from diving Cano Island. We had the pleasure of diving with a pair of 70-year-olds from Kentucky who did almost every dive. The wife did decide that two drops was enough on the one dive site. This is one trip where you really earned the “Iron Diver” certificate if you completed all the dives.
Websites Aggressor Fleet   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean, Bahamas, Florida, Turkey, Palau, Truk, Mexico, Red Sea, Cypress, Guam, Indonesia, Revillagigedo, Costa Rica
Closest Airport San Juan, Costa Rica Getting There San Juan

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, surge, currents
Water Temp 72-80°F / 22-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 20-45 Ft/ 6-14 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Be on surface at 60 minutes, and 500 psi. Dive with a buddy. Don't go below 110 ft.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Camera table was roomier with only 18 divers versus the max 22. Camera rinse bins on both sides of the boat. Lots of room for charging batteries.
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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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