Puntarenas can refer to both the city of Puntarenas and the province of Puntarenas. For the purpose of this article, we will discuss the scuba diving throughout the province of Puntarenas which ranges from the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula along the Pacific Coast to the border with Panama. Don’t expect to find pristine coral reefs here. Diving in the Pacific Ocean of Costa Rica is different but equally exciting. Here you’ll find boulders, caves and arches left over from the volcanic origins of the area as well as a few wrecks. These plankton-rich waters attract a number of pelagic species, the highlight of diving in the area.Most diving in Puntarenas will be carried out by small speedboat. Shore diving is almost non-existent. However, liveaboard cruises are a popular option. Destinations for these boats include Cocos Island (341 miles/550 km from Puntarenas), Isla del Cano and the Tortuga Islands.Do keep in mind that many of the dive sites offshore from Puntarenas should only be attempted by advanced divers as currents are quite strong. However, many of the protected bays throughout the province offer great beginner dives and training opportunities. As a final note, you’ll want to take out divers’ insurance before any liveaboard trip from Puntarenas. The nearest decompression chamber is back in San Jose, a 36-hour boat ride from Cocos Island.
Best Scuba Diving Spots in Puntarenas
Puntarenas Sea Life
Diving Costa Rica is bound to be a highlight for many divers as the array and quantity of large marine life to see is astounding. Plankton rich waters bring visits from giant oceanic manta rays, schools of mobula rays as well as placid whale sharks. At Cocos Island and sometimes off the Nicoya Peninsula, scalloped hammerhead sharks gather in droves, and at Cocos Island especially, they are usually joined by great numbers of silky sharks.Stingrays of many types can be seen out here as well as eagle rays. Schooling fish are usually grunts or trevally and they occur in the hundreds. Other sharks to see off the coast of Puntarenas are whitetip sharks, and the occasional bull shark. Sea turtles are also frequently seen and amongst the reefs and pinnacles are colorful parrotfish, moray eels, groupers, angelfish and others. The Pacific coast off Puntarenas is a favorite route for marine mammals migrating from the Southern Hemisphere so do look out for humpback whales and pilot whales during winter. Otherwise, there are pods of dolphins to enjoy year-round and maybe orca too.
How To Get There
The closest international airport to Puntarenas is Juan Santamaria Airport in San José. From the airport, you’ll need to take ground transport to your destination in Puntarenas. The journey is about an hour and a half, but distances vary as Puntarenas is a very large province. Once you’ve reached your holiday destination of choice, you can use buses, taxis or rental cars to travel from point A to point B.