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Dive Review of Argo in
Costa Rica/Cocos Islands

Argo: "Amazing diving off MV Argo at Cocos Islands", Aug, 2017,

by S M Williams, CA, US ( 1 report). Report 9944.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments MV Argo, the crown jewel of Cocos diving. Very well laid out, with large comfortable cabins and bathrooms, very organized dive deck with showers and camera spaces, lovely sun deck and shared recreational spaces. Each diver had a space (shared) to hang wetsuits near their dive spots, and an individual seat chest for storage, Tanks and gear were kept on the skiffs and filled there. Two hard hulled skiffs with ladders for diving (no bouncing around on zodiacs). The Argo carries the deep sea submersible (Deep See), its tender and three pilots. The food was amazing, the crew was extremely professional, affable and entertaining, and their sense of fun and camaraderie was palpable. Beer and sodas were included. Wine was available for purchase, but we also had two special meals where it was complimentary. IMPORTANT: No liquor for sale, but we were allowed to bring our own.

Each diver was given and taught how to use a safety package, which included a boat checked Nautilus radio and GPS and a safety sausage if you did not have one. After a check out dive in a quiet bay, the excitement started. Most dives involved being quickly dropped near a pinnacle or rock in the blue, with moderate current and huge waves that could smash you against the rocks. We avoided that with a back roll and rapid negative descent. Once at depth, usually between 80 to 99 feet, you found a rock, braced yourself against the current or took shelter from it, and held on to observe the cleaning stations. Fighting current, surge, avoiding sea urchins and angry damselfish was not easy, but manageable. It became especially more exciting if handling one or two cameras. Several in the group were stung by the sea urchins and formed an urchin tattoo club…. I managed to avoid that. Hardy gloves were essential…. preferably with Kevlar or similar protection.

But once the scalloped hammerheads started coming, boy, did they parade…. In formation… schools and more schools moved across the sandy bottom of the cleaning stations or above us in the shallows. Several came close enough for pretty decent pictures and videos. Manuelita and Alcyone excelled for us for shark viewing. Mixed in with all this action were bait balls, and a profusion of normal reef life, such as trumpet fish, bass, angelfish, boxfish, puffers, snappers, hogfish, angelfish, trigger fish, beautiful marble rays, mobula rays, eels, predators like trevally, jacks and huge tuna. White tip sharks were so commonplace we totally ignored them. Dolphins and humpback whales entertained us during surface transits and we had one dolphin infused safety stop. A few of us were lucky enough to see several Galapagos sharks, the resident tiger shark, a silver tip shark and a few silky sharks and eagle rays. No turtles, apparently, they have all been eaten or moved due to the Tiger shark.

The night dives involved using lights to stimulate the jacks and white tip sharks to hunt, and it was truly awesome to see rivers of the white tip sharks flowing around the rocks, looking for prey. Visibility was average, about 60 feet for most dives, best at 100ft. I suspect that while the currents were strong, we did not experience them at their worst. But we were certainly blown around like spaghetti attached to rocks…. Gloves… good gloves essential!!!

Some divers wore 5mm, others 7mm. I hated my new 5mm aqua lock, bought for the trip and it needed alteration, so I wore a combo of my 3 mm aqua lock which is warmer than most 3mm and a full lava core suit underneath. Although usually a warm water wimp, cold in 80+ degrees water, I was surprisingly comfortable in the high 70s to low 80s temperatures.

I decided to go deeper than most divers go by taking a ride in the submersible. All three pilots take you out, one in the submersible with two passengers, and the other two driving the tender and giving freediver support. We went to a depth of 305 meters or 1000 feet. There was no penetrable light, and it felt like being on the moon. While we were not deep enough to see alien like creatures, and saw several species that do exist more shallow, like scorpion fish, groupers, anthias, crabs, coral, we also saw other species that generally only exist in the deep like a goose fish, prickly shark and a new eel species. It was truly an otherworldly experience, and well worth the additional cost.

Cocos Island above water also did not disappoint. There were breathtaking vistas with Jurassic like ferns and cascading waterfalls. It teems with incredible bird life with three types of boobies, Asian white terns and several others. Interesting walk to the ranger station and historic pirate carved rocks. It is a remote, truly beautiful island.

Transit back to Puntarenas was also about 36 -37 hours, and transfer rom the boat back to San Jose and straight to the airport was very efficient.

Bring cold medicines and preventatives. You don't want to miss any dives due to a cold picked up while in transit.


Websites Argo   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving SoCal, Hawaii, Mexico, Palau, Caymans, Roatan, Grenada, Dominica, Dominican Rep, St Maarten, Jamaica, Bahamas, Costa Rica, Texas, Florida, Guadalupe Island, Tobago, Indonesia, Belize, Socorros, Bonaire, Turks/Caicos, Red Sea, Philippines, Greece, Puerto Rico, Sipadan, Maldives, Fiji, Curacao, Saba
Closest Airport San Jose Getting There San Diego to Phoenix, Phoenix to San Jose, overnight in San Jose at a decent hotel, picked up by air-conditioned wifi bus to travel 1-2 hours (with lunch and a souvenir / fruit stop) to Puntarenas to board the Argo. Then 36 hour transit open seas to Cocos island. We had a relatively easy transit both ways. Only a few people got sick.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy Seas calm, choppy, currents
Water Temp 77-84°F / 25-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Open ocean diving in the blue around pinnacles etc. Currents. Observing hammerheads at cleaning stations. Group had to stay together and follow instructions to descend and ascend safely, but I never felt cheated. Once in at the safety stop site, folks with air could stay a little longer.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales > 2
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Each diver has a cubicle...inside the cubicle were two sockets you could use to charge your accessories. Blower air was supplied for quick drying as well as special camera only towels. Large camera and computer tanks for rinses onboard the main vessel. In addition, there were two shelves running above both rows of cubicles that could be used to set up cameras etc.
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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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