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Dive Review of Aqua Rica/Hotel Diria Tamarindo in
Costa Rica/Tamarindo, Guancaste

Aqua Rica/Hotel Diria Tamarindo, Jan, 2014,

by Christopher Watt, MA, US (Contributor Contributor 14 reports with 15 Helpful votes). Report 7500.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments A trip report about my diving experience in Tamarindo, Costa Rica during early January 2014. We booked this holiday through a travel agent who used Bill Beard’s, a company that has been booking holidays in CR for many years (including diving).

We were on a 1 week family trip = Wife, Kids (19 &17) and me. We spent 2 nights and 2 days in the Arenal Volcano/La Fortuna area followed by 5 days/nights in the surf/beach town of Tamarindo. This was our first trip to Costa Rica. With 2 divers and 2 non-divers in the family, we were looking for a New Year’s holiday that offered a mix of adventure activities with some diving thrown in. Costa Rica certainly delivered on this front.

After flying into San Jose via Miami from Boston, we started the trip in the Arenal/La Fortuna area (3-4 hour transfer). We stayed at the Royal Corin hotel, which we enjoyed. Views of the nearby volcano from every room…although it was clouded in during our time there. One of the great features of the hotel is the pools that are heated (not sure of exact temp…but at least 85-90F) by the local geothermal activity…really nice to relax in following an active day (largest pool has a swim-up bar). On Day 1 we did a New Year’s Day combo of a zip-line canopy tour in the morning, followed by white water rafting on the Rio Balsa in the afternoon. Both very fun with lots of smiles for both parents and teenagers. I bought a new GoPro Hero 3+ the night before we left on the trip….probably not the smartest idea, since I didn’t have much time to play with it before we left. That said, the GoPro is pretty easy to learn, and managed to get some fun footage from both adventures.

On the Jan 2 we were picked up at 10AM for our 4 hour transfer to Tamarindo. Tamarindo is a surfing/beach town located on the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica in Guanacaste province. We chose Tamarindo as we were looking for a spot where we could find some surfing, scuba, snorkeling and a beachfront hotel all in th same place….and a spot that had some degree of “action” for the teens. Tamarindo certainly delivered on all fronts. If you are looking for peace, quiet and the “old” Costa Rica, Tamarindo is probably not for you. Lots of restaurants, a small shopping mall, ATMs, many surf shops, a Subway restaurant, a heavy dose of gringo souvenir shops….all combined with a beautiful beach make for a what was a busy but nonetheless fun place to spend 5 days. Waves for the surfers in our family were quite steady…with a nice intermediate/medium break right in front of the hotel and a beginner break a 10-15 minute walk down the beach.

We stayed at the Hotel Tamarindo Diria, right in the middle of the town and right on the beach. The Diria has rooms and facilities on both sides of the main road in Tamarindo = we stayed on the beach side with a beach view on the 3rd floor. We could hear the waves from our room even with the terrace doors closed…very soothing. Hotel does not rent surf or boogie boards, but there are countless shops within spitting distance that will hook you up. The Diria also has a storage room for surf/boogie boards if you rent for multiple days. Security seemed very good. There are touts on the beach selling various things (souvenirs, surf lessons, sunset sailboat cruises, etc.)…but I have to say that I’ve never seen such polite touts in my life = a simple “no, gracias” was sufficient and our refusals were always met with “thanks – have a nice day”.

On to the diving. We dove with Aqua Rica, which appears to be the only proper dive shop in Tamarindo. Their location is about 2 blocks from the main road in Tamarindo. Although we booked 3 days of 2-tank trips in advance, we stopped by the night before our first trip to show our C-cards, make sure the rental gear for my daughter was all set and to confirm logistics. There is no boat dock/marina in Tamarindo; we met them a 5 minute walk down the beach from the Diria….they ferried us from the beach to their 6-pack-sized dive boat in a small launch. Aqua Rica kept our gear for us during the 3 days and washed it each night. After the final day of diving they washed it and I picked it up at the shop.

Diving was out at the Catalina Islands, a 40-45 minute boat ride from Tamarindo. The Catalinas are a chain of small rocky islands, some as small as 20 meters across, the largest about 200-300 meters long. The boat was manned by a captain and 1-2 DMs/instructors, dependent upon the number of customers on the boat. On day 1 it was my daughter and I +1 other person and 1 DM; day 2 was just the DM and the 2 of us; day 3 was a full boat with a total of 7 divers + 2 DMs broken into 2 groups. Entry was via backroll off the side of the boat; boarding was via a small fins-off ladder at the stern. No moorings = the boat would pull up to the given island and drop a weighted float line just offshore. Once the line was dropped, the boat would swing around and do a quick hot drop (sometimes 1-2 swings to get everyone close to the descent line). The boat floated freely until divers surfaced. The dives typically started in the 40-50 foot range at the bottom of the line and ranged from 40-65 feet during our 6 dives. Current seemed to be present on all of our dives, ranging from mild to moderate. Visibility ranged from the “pretty good” (40-45 feet) on days 1-2 to the murky (20-25 feet) on day 3. Water temp was a consistent 79-81F according to Suunto, although we definitely encountered some spots where you could feel spots of cooler water. In our “vast” experience of 3 days, the other divers we saw tended to be on the less experienced side (including my daughter who has a lifetime total of about 40 dives over 2 years). The DMs took this all in stride and seemed to do a good job herding the cats, both above and below the water. Claudio the owner has been involved in this business in Tamarindo for 19 years; both he and the other DMs were very familiar with the sites. On the final of the 6 dives we saw the most significant current and our group of 5 surfaced ~500yards from the boat. The boat did not immediately see us despite waving and loud whistle blowing. I inflated my 6 foot sausage and the boat immediately came running…a good reminder to always have a sausage with you on boat dives. Camera = I used my Canon G11 (internal flash only) on all the boat dives…unfortunately there was no rinse tank on the boat (I used the drinking water to pour over the camera for a quick rinse). Drinks and snacks (cookies, crackers, fresh fruit, water, various flavors of fruit iced tea) were available

I really enjoyed the diving. The combination of warm water, some larger pelagic action, large schools of smaller fish and lots of smaller critters certainly outweighed the lower Pacific visibility. Some marine life highlights = 10-12 white-tipped reef sharks, 2-3 spotted eagle rays (underwater; also saw many, many jumping/flipping out of the water on the surface), large school of Pacific Barracuda, countless green and jeweled morays, a snake eel, Spanish dancer, scorpionfish, countless butterfly fish, King Angelfish, bottlenose dolphins (surface), humpback whales (surface – spouting in the distance) = some great stuff.
Websites Aqua Rica   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving New England, Florida Keys, Red Sea, Turks & Caicos, UK, Italy, Bermuda
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy, surge, currents
Water Temp 79-80°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 25-45 Ft/ 8-14 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Dives ranged from 45-55 minutes
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments No rinse tank on the boat, although rinse water available upon request
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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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