Snorkelling in Costa Rica, is it any good?

We didn’t choose Costa Rica on its strength as a snorkelling destination but were hopeful of squeezing some in during our week-long stay at Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste.

The little prior research we had done hadn’t filled us with hope so we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to find a wide bay of shallow blue water bordered by rocky outcrops and depths of 5 to 15 metres.

Entering the water we could understand what the other reviews had been talking about. Costa Rica does not possess the crystal clear waters of the Canary Islands or Carribean. Visibility is variable and ranges from thick plankton soup (under ten metres vis) to moderate (up to thirty metres).

Visibility seems to depend on the prevailing weather and precise location. Rock-bays less than 100m apart can have wildly differing visibilities and it’s not unusual to experience clear and cloudy on the same outing. Early morning was the best time to go when the sea was still calm. In the rainy season afternoon storms are common and don’t help the visibility.

What is there to see?

There’s plenty to see underwater including many varieties of fish, turtles, sea cucumbers, octopus and even manta-rays. Some of the fish can be aggressive in protecting their territories – you have been warned!

Where to go snorkelling?

You can snorkel directly from Playa Hermosa or check out the excellent http://www.snorkelling-report.com which has details of all of the local spots including excellent location diagrams. Alternatively, there are plenty of guided snorkelling trips available who can take you further afield.

Equipment rental

Snorkels, masks and fins can be rented or will be provided by any decent tour outfit. We took our own equipment to be sure of a good fit. Buying good quality gear looked to be more problematic, though you could try a local dive shop.

Have you been snorkelling in Costa Rica? We’d love to hear how you found it.

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