Scuba diving in Cocos Island: The Best Cocos Islands Dive Sites

Hammerheads - Scuba diving in Cocos Island - The Best Cocos Islands Dive Sites

If love the idea of scuba diving with big animals, the Cocos Islands is a must do dive destination. The Cocos Islands are renowned for their schooling hammerheads at Dirty Rock, but the hammerheads aren’t the only big animals you’ll see when scuba diving the Cocos Islands.

Most of the scuba diving in the Cocos Islands will involve scuba diving with sharks, mostly with hammerheads and whitetip reef sharks. The only way to experience the scuba diving in the Cocos Islands is by dive liveaboard.

The best way to dive the Cocos Islands, Costa Rica is by a scuba diving liveaboard. You can check the latest and best deals on Cocos Islands liveaboards using the following window:

Before you read on, you may like to take a watch of both the videos on this article about what fish eat sharks. You may be as surprised as I was when you see what happens! What fish can eat sharks?

How do you dive on Cocos Island?

The only way you can dive on Cocos Island is via liveaboard dive boats. Most liveaboard trips are for 10 nights, with 7 days of diving with up to three dives per day. The Cocos Island liveaboards will take you around 550 kilometres (344 miles) from the Costa Rican Pacific coast.

This means that all the popular Cocos Islands Liveaboards that take scuba divers to the Cocos Islands are Costa Rica based Liveaboards, as in the search table below.

Cocos Islands Liveaboards

This list of Cocos Islands liveaboards is in descending customer rating order, followed by Scuba Diving Luxury Rating (SDE Lux Rating, see below), so the liveaboards with the highest customer rating and the best SDE lux rating will be at the top of the list. If you want to change the list order, use the “Sort by” dropdown below.

Search:
Sort by:
Total Records Found: 5, showing 10 per page
Liveaboard Review LinkCustomer RatingSDE Lux Rating %Flexible BookingDive CoursesDietary RequirementsNitroxGear Rental
MV Sea Hunter 9.2 79% YES YES YES YES YES
MV Argo 8.9 81% YES YES YES YES YES
MV Okeanos Aggressor I 8.8 67% NO YES YES YES YES
MV Okeanos Aggressor II 8.7 69% NO YES YES YES YES
MV Cocos Island Aggressor 0 58% NO YES YES YES YES

* The Scuba Diving Earth Luxury Rating (SDE Lux Rating) is explained on each liveaboard review when you click the “Discover Liveaboard” link, and is my own Liveaboard Luxury Rating I’ve assigned to all liveaboards. Choosing between liveaboards is helped by customer scores, and if you get stuck choosing between two or three liveaboards, where each one has a high customer score out of 10, you can use the SDE Luxury Rating to help narrow down your choice.

Think about it like using Booking.com when searching for the best hotel. Booking.com also use a customer score where each customer rates hotels out of 10. This is similar to the liveaboard customer rating, which is also rated out of 10. But let’s say you only like to stay in hotels rated 8 and above on Booking.com, but you also want the hotel to have WIFI or parking, or to have a swimming pool etc. The features each hotel has is usually secondary to the score out of 10.

Are there sharks at Cocos Island?

There are definitely sharks at Cocos Islands, which is why it got the name “Island of Sharks“. The sharks include hundreds of schooling Scalloped hammerheads, which are mostly seen at Alcyone and Dirty Rock dive sites. But hammerheads are not the only sharks at Cocos Islands, as you may also see silky sharks, black and whitetip reef sharks, whale sharks and the occasional tiger shark.

The main attraction of the Cocos Islands is the schooling hammerheads, as seen in the follow video dived from the Argo Liveaboard.

Schooling Hammerheads of Cocos

The Cocos Island aren’t the best place to scuba dive with tiger sharks, but if you would love to scuba dive with them, one of the best places to do this is Tiger Shark Beach, which is a dive site off the Bahamas in the Caribbean. To read more about the 6 best places to dive with tiger sharks, these are listed in this article: Where can you dive with tiger sharks.

But if you want proof of tigers sharks at Cocos Islands, this dive from the Sea Hunter liveaboard not only includes large schools of hammerheads, but shows whitetip reef sharks and a tiger shark too:

Diving with Tiger Sharks in Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Great diving in Cocos Island (Costa Rica), with a lot of hammerhead-, tiger- and white tip sharks. Filmed by myself in November 2014, on the liveaboard called Undersea Hunter with a submarine on deck.

When should I go to Cocos Island?

The best time to go to Cocos Islands to dive with hammerhead sharks is in the rainy months from June to December. But if you prefer calmer seas during your visit, you should go from January to May instead when you will still see hammerheads, but in fewer numbers.

Map of Scuba diving in Cocos Island
Map of Scuba diving in Cocos Island – image courtesy of Aggressor River Cruises
Liveaboard.com search Costa Rica scroll

Cocos Island dive sites

  1. Manuelita Coral Garden.
  2. Manuelita Outside.
  3. Dirty Rock.
  4. Viking Rock.
  5. Punta Maria.
  6. Big Dos Amigos.
  7. Small Dos Amigos.
  8. Bajo Dos Amigos.
  9. Shark Fin Rock.
  10. Bait Bail.
  11. Submerged Rock.
  12. Bajo Alcyone.
  13. Silverado.
  14. Lobster Rock.

Manuelita Coral Garden dive site – inside Manuelita Island

The Manuelita Coral Garden dive on the inside of Manuelita Island is usually the first dive on most Cocos Islands liveaboards.

  • Depth 6-21 metres (20-70 feet).
  • Whitetips, hammerheads, blacktips, whitetips, marble rays, manta rays, eagle rays, turtles, garden eels and the occasional tigers shark.
  • Located on the North east tip of Cocos Island.
  • Protect site so conditions are calm with little to no current.
  • Great night dive to experience feeding whitetip reef sharks (see video blow).

Here’s a taster of Manuelita Coral Garden dive site where you can see many hammerheads on this dive site too.

MANUELITA CORAL GARDEN SHORT
Video was shot in January 2017 at Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica. The trip was onboard the D/V ARGO. The dive site was Manuelita Coral Garden, a shallow coral and sand area on one side of Manuelita Island, a small island just offshore of Cocos Island. Water is approximately 50-60 ft.

Night diving on Manuelita Coral Garden to experience feeding whitetip reef sharks – do you dare experience the adrenalin rush of witnessing feeding sharks?

Due to safety reasons, night dives are no longer permitted in the marine park and will not be offered. Also, there is no snorkelling, swimming or kayaking in between dives.”

Night Diving at Manuelita Coral Garden
Whitetip reef sharks and black jacks hunting for their prey at Manuelita Coral Garden, Cocos Island (Costa Rica).

Manuelita Outside dive site

The diving on the outside of Manuelita Island you will experience the thrills of cleaning stations.

  • Depth 18-40 metres (60-130 feet).
  • Scalloped hammerheads, black tips, white tips, the occasional whale shark, eagle rays, manta rays, yellow fin tunas, turtles, jacks.
  • Located on the north east corner of Cocos Island.
  • Best for shark and ray cleaning stations.

An example of what to expect on a dive at Manuelita Outside dive site, these are feeding whitetip reef sharks.

Dive6 2 Manuelita Outside 137 Dive6 2 Manuelita Outside

Dirty Rock dive site

Dirty Rock dive site is one of the best dive sites in the Cocos Islands for scuba diving with large numbers of schooling scalloped hammerhead sharks. But see Alcyone below.

  • Depth 6-40 metres (20-130 feet).
  • Hammerhead sharks, whitetip sharks, blacktip sharks, occasional whale sharks, marble rays, eagle rays, mobula rays, jacks, turtles, dolphins…and more hammerheads.
  • The main attraction of Cocos Island and where the hammerheads congregate the most.
  • Located mid north of Cocos Island.
Cocos Island Diving at Dirty Rock I
Dirty Rock is probably the dive site that divers like the most in Cocos…

Viking Rock dive site

Viking Rock dive site is another good place to see hammerheads and is near to Wafer Bay on the North of Cocos Island.

  • Depth 15-40 metres (50 to 130 feet).
  • Hammerheads, whitetip sharks, tiger sharks eagle rays, turtles.
  • Located mid north of Cocos Island west of Wafer Bay.
  • Vertical wall dive.

Video of diving on Viking Rock, Cocos Island.

Cocos 2021 – Dive 12 – Viking Rock
Hammers!!! and a Blacktip!

Punta Maria dive site Cocos Islands

Punta Maria dive site is located of the west coast of Cocos Islands, which is a seamount that rises up from a sandy seabed.

  • Depth 24-37 metres (80-120 feet).
  • Hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks, whitetip reef sharks, blacktip reef sharks, marble rays, octopus, and eels.
  • Located to the west of Cocos Islands.
  • Cleaning station.
  • Strong currents.

Cleaning station Punta Maria, Cocos Island showing hammerheads, Galapagos, blacktip sharks and silky sharks.

BFDC BOTTOMCAM: Cleaning station sample Punta Maria, Cocos Island
a short 3.5 minute clip on what happens at a cleaning station after all the divers leave. This camera was placed at Punta Maria, a sea mount dive site, near Cocos Island. We see all the typical Cocos sharks – hammerheads, galapagos, blacktip sharks and silky sharks – in this short “single take” clip as well as the standard cleaner fish: barberfish and king angelfish. It is estimated that up to 90 percent of the sharks may have been removed from the oceans by overfishing and finning. Imagine what this footage might look like if that number was only 50 percent…we maybe would see 4x as many sharks (and their prey fish) in this footage than we see now. (HD recommended)

The following video was taken from a liveaboard dive trip on Okeanos Aggressor liveaboard on the Punt Maria dive site with a close encounter with a silky shark.

Cocos Island Punta Maria Dive 2
Cocos Island dive trip aboard the Okeanos 1 Aggressor Liveaboard.

Big Dos Amigos dive site Cocos Island

Big Dos Amigos is a large exposed rock located to the west of Cocos Islands.

  • Depth 18-37 metres (60-120 feet).
  • Hammerheads, whitetip reef sharks, marble and mobula rays, lobsters, snapper.
  • Located to the west of Cocos Island.
  • Underwater arch.
  • Remember your dive torch on this dive.

The following video was taken from a liveaboard dive trip on Okeanos Aggressor II liveaboard on the Big Dos Amigos dive site with a close encounter with a large Galapagos shark.

Dive 21 – Dos Amigos Pequito – Cocos Island
Another dive on the Small Dos Amigos, which is the smallest of the “Dos Amigos” islets and is a little further south than the big one. Its conical shape is home to the big stuff and this time was no exception with a huge Galapagos Shark.

Small Dos Amigos dive site Cocos Islands

The Small Dos Amigos dive site is located on the south west corner of Cocos Island.

  • Depth 18-37 metres (60-120 feet).
  • Scalloped hammerheads, white tips, silky sharks, whale sharks, mobula rays, eagle rays, dolphins.
  • Not always available to dive in the rainy season due to sea surges.
  • Located on the South west of Cocos Island.
  • The main nutrient rich currents hit this part of Cocos Island first.

More Cocos Island shark encounters in the following video was taken from a liveaboard dive trip on Okeanos Aggressor liveaboard on the Small Dos Amigos dive site. But also seen was a manta ray, which is another big animal visitor of the Cocos Islands.

Cocos Island 20180314 Small Dos Amigos Dive 1
Cocos Island dive trip aboard the Okeanos 1 Aggressor Liveaboard.

Bajo Dos Amigos dive site Cocos Islands

The Bajo Dos Amigos dive site is a seamount south west of Cocos Island.

  • Depth 27-40 metres (90-130 feet).
  • Hammerheads, mobula rays, manta rays, eagle rays, yellow striped snapper, a chance to see sailfish.
  • Located on the South west corner of Cocos Island.
  • The main nutrient rich currents hit this part of Cocos Island first.
  • Known for it’s black coral.
  • Strong currents.

The following video was taken from a liveaboard dive trip on Okeanos Aggressor II liveaboard on Bajo Dos Amigos dive site with large shoals of yellow striped snapper, a common siting on the Cocos Islands dives.

Dive 11 – Dos Amigos Grandes – Cocos Island
This site is set apart from all the other dives around Cocos by the huge archway we swam through. No hammerheads though even though they are supposed to be lurking around here.

Shark Fin Rock dive site Cocos Islands

Shark Fin Rock dive site takes it name from the pyramid like rock that looks exactly like a shark’s fin.

  • Depth 12-40 metres (40-130 feet).
  • Marble rays, white tips, mobula rays, eagle rays, dolphins.
  • Located South of Cocos Island.
  • Known for large schools of bigeye jacks of Cocos Islands.
  • Heavy surges.

Bait Ball dive site Cocos Island

The bait ball phenomenon occurs when the little bait fish form a spinning silvery ball which is to protect themselves from predators.

  • Depth 1-30 metres (3 to 100 feet).
  • Located south east of Cocos Island.
  • Dives can be on the surface where the bait ball is trapped by predators.
  • Sharks, dolphin, snappers.

An amazing bait ball dive from the Sea Hunter liveaboard, only this dive was at Alcyone dive site (see below):

BAIT BALL at Cocos Island!! Best Dive of 2015
This bait ball at Alycone was EPIC. This could well be the best dive of the year (although 2015 ‘aint over yet!), and for many divers lucky enough to be there the best dive of their lives. All kinds of sharks, sea turtles plus dolphins and spawning mackerels — what more could a diver ask for? At the end, the sharks began exhibiting a strange trance-like behaviour where they were swimming vertically. We’ve never seen anything like it. If you know what this behaviour is all about, please leave your thoughts in the comments! Our dive guide has one theory…

Submerged Rock dive site Cocos Islands

The Submerged Rock dive is a pinnacle dive where it’s known as a nursery for whitetip reef sharks.

  • Depth 6-34 metres (20-110 feet).
  • Whitetip reef sharks, Hammerheads, blacktip reef sharks, mobular rays, lobsters, yellow striped snapper.
  • Located south of Cocos Island.
  • Nursey for whitetip reef sharks and spot pregnant females whitetips.
  • Pinnacle dive with an arched hole.

The following video was taken from a liveaboard dive trip on Okeanos Aggressor II liveaboard on Submerged Rock dive site.

Dive 8 – Submerged Rock – Cocos Island
Despite a heavy surface current, swimming through this splendid arched hole was a pleasure. Plenty of colorful scenery, a nursery for white tip sharks, schools of jacks, and much more…

Bajo Alcyone dive site Cocos Island

Bajo Alcyone dive is an amazing dive site located on the south of Cocos Island and named by Jacques Cousteau and is the best place in the world to scuba dive with hammerheads.

  • Depth 27-37 metres (90-120 feet).
  • Located towards the south east of Cocos Island.
  • Hammerheads, silky sharks, whitetip reef sharks, blacktips, whale sharks, dolphins, manta rays, marble rays, eagle rays, mobula rays, turtles, octopus and yellow fin tuna.
  • Known for the schooling scalloped hammerheads.
  • Seamount dive.
  • Known for an abundance of sea life.

In the video below take on Bajo Alcyone dive site Cocos Island you’ll see hammerheads, whitetips and a whale shark.

Cocos Island Diving at Alcyone
Alcyone or Bajo Alcyone, this dive site was discovered and called by Commandant Cousteau and team mates while on expedition in Cocos Island aboard the legendary research ship Alcyone

Silverado dive site Cocos Island

Dive site known for the silky shark cleaning station.

  • Depth 9-12 metres (30-40 feet).
  • Mostly for silvertip reef sharks.
  • Located on the east cost of Cocos Island.
  • Silvertip reef shark cleaning station.

Video from the Sea Hunter liveaboard with silvertip reef sharks.

Silvertip sharks Cocos Island
There is a dive spot in Cocos named Silverado, Silvertip sharks are coming there and turn around a little rock

Lobster Rock dive site Cocos Island

The Lobster Rock dive site is on the tip of the east cost of Cocos Island.

  • Depth 12-34 metres (40-110 feet).
  • Located off the east cost of Cocos Island.
  • Whitetip reef sharks, marble rays, manta rays, eagle rays, lobsters, red lip batfish, frogfish.

The following dives include a dive on Lobster Rock and was from the Sea Hunter liveaboard.

Diving Cocos Island: Chatham Bay, Pajara Island, Lobster Rock, & Submerged Rock
SCUBA diving at Cocos Island is pretty epic! I’ve included some footage and photos from Chatham Bay, Pajara Island, Lobster Rock, and Submerged Rock

Why are there so many hammerheads at the Cocos Islands?

The reason why hammerheads congregate around the Cocos Islands is due to the convergence of nutrient rich currents. These nutrient rich currents provide the food chain to support such a huge population of scalloped hammerhead sharks.

If you want to see an example of what these nutrient rich waters produce in terms of food for the food chain in the Cocos Islands, here’s a large shoal of jacks at Manuelita Outside dive site. Although hammerheads like to eat stingrays, which are commonly found in the Cocos Islands too.

Dive3 1 Manuelita Outside 188 Dive3 1 Manuelita Outside

Seeing that you’re interested in scuba diving in Cocos Islands, which is the favourite for those who love to scuba dive with sharks, you may like to read this article about great white sharks in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

You may be surprised by what you read, I certainly was!

This article is also interesting about a great white shark pinged near to the Maldives.

But then if you want to be really surprised, take a read of this article about a great white shark spotted by a snorkeler off the southern Great Barrier Reef. The article includes a video of the white shark concerned.

I hope you enjoyed this page about Scuba diving in Cocos Island

If you have more questions either about snorkelling or scuba diving (or specifically about Scuba diving in Cocos Island), please comment below with your questions.

Please share your experiences, plus dive sites, resorts and liveaboards you recommend. Share the time of year of your trip together with what you saw, the visibility, currents and dive operator, as this will help others who read this page.

There will also be many more pages and articles about scuba and scuba diving safety tips (and on snorkelling too) for you to read and learn about this fabulous sport.

Have fun and be safe!

Scuba diving in Cocos Island: The Best Cocos Islands Dive Sites

Article written by Russell Bowyer who has been a scuba diver since diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia in 1989. After his first dive he trained as a BSAC diver in the UK. He attained his Diver Leader certification with BSAC. He then went on to become a scuba diving instructor, teaching others how to dive and was voted as Diving Officer and Treasurer for the Saffron Walden BSAC club too. Russell has dived all over the world, including the UK, on liveaboards in the Red Sea, the Caribbean, South Africa and the USA. Russell is experienced in all dive types, including drift diving, deep dives that involved decompression stops and recreational dives too.

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