Cocos Island in Costa Rica is one of the world’s best liveaboard destinations and home to contenders for the world’s best dive site. This remote island is a diving paradise that should be on every diver’s bucket list. Let’s see what makes it so special.

Cocos Island is most famous for its encounters with scalloped hammerhead sharks. This is the main reason divers flock to the island and why it consistently ranks as one of the best shark diving destinations in the world. But the logbook-worthy encounters don’t stop there. During any trip to this magical island, you could also see manta rays, eagle rays, whale sharks, sailfish, white-tipped reef sharks, silkies, and even tiger sharks.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located 342 miles (550km) from the coast of Costa Rica. This means diving Cocos Island is only possible from a liveaboard and involves a boat journey that takes around 34 hours (on average). In-water conditions also make it a destination best suited to experienced divers, with liveaboard operators requiring divers to be nitrox certified.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that Cocos Island’s underwater landscape features a mix of dramatic pinnacles with built-in arches and drop-offs that seem to descend to infinity — a constant reminder that you’re diving on a submerged mountain range and not among the world’s top coral reefs

Here is our selection of the best liveaboards for Cocos Island.

Best Mid-Range Liveaboard: Okeanos Aggressor II

Part of the Aggressor Fleet, the Okeanos Aggressor II has safety and adventure covered. Newly built in 2010, this vessel includes everything divers need for a memorable scuba vacation.

Every guest aboard the Okeanos Aggressor II is provided with personal EPIRBs while diving. This advanced technology ensures all divers are accounted for. In addition, the boat features air conditioning and internet for everyone’s comfort.

Onboard, you’ll enjoy three to four dives per day and a complete photo center for underwater photographers. There are camera tables, extra charging stations and a computer for viewing your images.

The ratio of divers to dive pros is 22 to two, but there are nine crew members to assist with gearing up and your return to the main vessel. The boat boasts 11 cabins to easily accommodate every guest.

For a well-priced liveaboard trip with extra safety measures and the trusted Aggressor name, the Okeanos Aggressor II is a great choice.

Best liveaboards for Cocos Island Aggressor

Best Liveaboard for Groups: Cocos Island Aggressor

This modern liveaboard is one of the newest vessels touring Cocos Island. Built in 2020, the Cocos Island Aggressor is 38 meters/125 feet long and 8 meters/26 feet wide. This spacious vessel is an excellent option for groups with a range of cabin types and plenty of common areas for group dining, chilling out and watching the watery horizon pass by.

This luxury vessel accommodates up to 22 passengers in 11 spacious staterooms, including four master staterooms on the upper deck and seven deluxe suites with twin beds on the lower deck. Each stateroom features a private bathroom and shower, individual climate control, and a monitor with a media player.

The Cocos Island Aggressor has a spacious saloon where divers and groups can enjoy a variety of nightly entertainment or watch movies on a large screen. There is a spacious sundeck with sun loungers, deck chairs, and a well-stocked bar and grill area for sundowners and barbecue nights.

The roomy dive deck features individual dive lockers, rinse tanks for washing dive equipment and cameras and two hot, freshwater showers.

Guests enjoy a buffet-style lunch followed by an a la carte table service menu for dinner. Onboard the Cocos Island Aggressor, you will enjoy a mouthwatering menu, including American fare and local specialties, such as salads, vegetarian dishes, seafood, beef and chicken dishes, and delicious freshly made desserts. The Aggressor‘s beverage menu includes a limited selection of local beer and wine, in addition to fruit juices, soft drinks, iced water, iced tea, and coffee. All drinks are complimentary.

The Cocos Island Aggressor offers up to four dives per day with an average itinerary of 10 nights.

Best Liveaboard for Nervous Divers: Sea Hunter

A former diver support vessel for professional research excursions, the Sea Hunter was refitted for recreational diving in 1994. Not only does the vessel still host professional filmmakers, it also offers a range of features for the nervous diver and itineraries that are 11 days (one day longer than most boats).

First and foremost, the Sea Hunter only offers guided dives. Divers can enjoy a total of 24 dives over six days of diving. And with 14 members of the crew for 20 guests, all divers get a lot of personal attention.

Secondly, you can rest easy in the knowledge that the Sea Hunter is designed to minimize noise and uncomfortable movements thanks to zero-speed stabilizers. And all guests can be accommodated in 10 cabins which are as isolated as possible from the powerful engines.

The Sea Hunter is also well-equipped for down time. There’s an air conditioned lounge as well as a sun deck for catching some rays. An extra perk is the free laundry service provide.

If you want to visit Cocos Island but are nervous about diving conditions and the long journey to the island, the Sea Hunter is the boat for you.

Best Luxury Liveaboard: Argo

**Please note that the Argo and the DeepSee submarine are currently away on a long-term project with National Geographic Pristine Seas. Recreational dive trips will resume in 2025.**

The Argo is the most luxurious vessel traveling to Cocos Island and even comes complete with its own deep sea submersible.

At 129 feet (39m), the roomy Argo was totally refurbished in 2008 to provide the best amenities available to scuba divers. On most itineraries, you’ll enjoy four dives per day, including three night dives over the course of the week. This liveaboard also features a ratio of two dive pros and 14 crew members for 18 guests.

While you’re traveling with the Argo, you can choose an optional upgrade dive on the DeepSee submersible. This small submarine dives to extreme depths to spot rare marine life.

You’ll experience all of this under the water while enjoying luxury on the yacht. The Argo boasts nine of the roomiest cabins found on any liveaboard at Cocos Island. The owner’s cabin, in particular, is worth the upgrade. With a queen-sized bed, TVs and ensuite bathrooms, you’ll want for nothing on the Argo.

Cocos Island Liveaboard FAQs

Still undecided whether a trip to Costa Rica’s top dive destination is for you? Here is more information about liveaboard diving in Cocos Island through answers to some commonly asked questions.

How long does it take to get to Cocos Island from Costa Rica?

Liveaboards headed for Cocos Island usually depart from Puntarenas, a two-hour drive from San Jose. Once onboard your liveaboard vessel, the journey to Cocos Island has a journey time of between 30 and 36 hours, meaning this trip may not be suitable for those who suffer from seasickness.

What marine life can be encountered at Cocos Island?

Cocos island is without doubt most famous for its hammerhead shark encounters. But that’s not all you can see. Divers may also encounter whale sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, sailfish, tiger sharks, silkies and both blacktip and whitetip sharks.

What is the best time to visit Cocos Island?

It is possible to visit Cocos Island year-round, but the best time to dive at Cocos Island for marine life is from June to December. Between these months, plankton blooms attract large numbers of scalloped hammerheads and manta rays. On the other hand, the off-season (December to May) features calmer conditions and better underwater visibility.

What are the diving conditions like at Cocos Island?

Underwater conditions at Cocos Island can be challenging. Occasional surge and strong currents mean it is recommended that only experienced divers travel to this diving destination. Additionally, operators in the region require nitrox certification.

How long is a typical liveaboard trip to Cocos Island?

The typical length of liveaboard itineraries to Cocos Island is 8 to 10 nights. However, slightly longer trips from some operators (Sea Hunter/Okeanos Aggressor II) exist sporadically throughout the year.

Can you live on Cocos Island?

Wondering if you can live or even just stay on Cocos Island for a night? The answer is no. However, the island, which is just shy of 10 square miles, does have some accommodation. But, this housing exists purely for the Costa Rican Park Rangers who oversee this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ready to Make Memories Diving Cocos Island?

Feeling inspired to take on the adventure of a lifetime? Then, it’s time to sign up for a Cocos Island liveaboard trip to take you to this dream dive destination. Remember, each of the liveaboards on our list was hand-picked by our experts at PADI Travel. If you’d like to learn more or explore more liveaboard destinations, you can contact us via email, telephone or live chat for in-person advice.

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