All you need to know about your Liveaboard Diving Trip to Cocos Island

Photo courtesy from Leisure Pro

Getting to Cocos island and boarding your liveaboard vessel doesn’t just require you to pack your things and pay your fees. It takes a little bit of preparation and some requirements in order for you to totally enjoy the beauty of Cocos island, both on land and underwater. Here are some preparations and requirements needed for you to have a smooth sail. Please take note that all of these preparations and requirements are set forth by our main partner, the Undersea Hunter Group.

Booking and Reservation

If your chosen trip date is more than 1 year away, you are only required to pay a 10% deposit from the trip fare. In case your preferred schedule is less than 240 days from the trip date, then a 30% deposit must be made for you to have a reservation. The remaining balance should be paid at least 60 days prior to your trip date.

For trip schedule, please read our article on Schedule of Liveaboard Trips to Cocos Island for CY 2017 and 2018. Please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be very glad to assist you in your bookings and reservation.

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Minimum Scuba Certification Requirements

Photo courtesy from PADI

Not all divers can go diving in Cocos island. While the minimum certification required for you to go diving in Cocos island is Open Water Diver, there are other specialty skills that you need to learn for you to explore most of its popular dive sites. Specialty skills like night diving and deep diving is highly recommended as you will be exploring some sites during night time and most dives are moderately deep ranging from 25-30 meters (80-100 feet). There are some sites that may take you deeper, so for safety purposes, the maximum depth set while diving in Cocos island is 35 meters (114 feet).

Although not required to be taken as a Specialty Certification Course, you must have at least some experience with diving in mild to moderate current. You should take note that Cocos island is located offshore and the speed and direction of the current can change within the hour. On top of this, you should also be an experienced diver where you have mastered all your open water skills and a good indication for this level of experience is that you have logged at least 25 hours of diving. So, do not forget to bring your C-cards and dive log since this will all be check before boarding your vessel.

If you have just been certified, please do not include Cocos Island in your bucket list and choose other sites instead that has the condition that favors novice divers.

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Nitrox Certification

Photo courtesy from Beqa Lagoon Resort

Since you will be enjoying the bounty of marine life in Cocos island, this will usually extend your bottom time using your tanks’ compressed air. With this, you will find that using mixed gas like nitrox will benefit your underwater exploration and be always situated on the safer side of diving without suffering the effects of nitrogen narcosis.

Nitrox certification is not mandatory when you go diving in Cocos island. However, it is highly suggested that you are trained and certified to use nitrox as it usually fits the dive profile of Cocos Island. Aside from giving you an extended bottom time at a particular depth, you will also be freed from the effects of nitrogen absorption in your body which can cause narcosis.

In case you are not nitrox certified, this certification course is being offered while on-board your liveaboard vessel at an extra cost. This is usually conducted during your 36-hour crossing over from Puntarenas en route to Cocos island. If you are already a nitrox certified diver, do not forget to bring along your nitrox c-card.

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Use of Rebreather in Cocos Island

Photo courtesy from The Adventure Junkies

Rebreathers are fast becoming a fad when you go diving in Cocos island. However, aside from its corresponding certification course, you must have ample rebreather experience before using it in Cocos island as the whole unit becomes challenging when you go diving in moderate to strong current.

Take note that we do not rent-out rebreather units. You must bring your own unit and present a corresponding c-card to prove such skill. What we can only provide though are fills and 408 grade sofnolime scrubber at an extra cost. If you are using the Poseidon unit, you must bring your own cartridges as the units can’t be refilled.

Second thing to consider is that not all divers on board will be using rebreathers. With this, we recommend you to hire a private skiff and a rebreather dive guide. Another option could be organizing a group of 10 rebreather divers that will occupy one skiff boat.

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DAN and other Diving Insurance Coverage

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Aside from your certification cards, you will not be allowed to board your vessel if you will not be able to present a diving insurance. You have to take note that Cocos island is located far offshore, and in case of emergency, evacuating a patient diver is very costly. So having a comprehensive diving insurance coverage is vital.

Please take note that General Insurance (that may or may not cover diving related accidents) are not accepted as diving insurance if you go diving in Cocos island. The most preferred and accepted diving insurance is DAN or Divers Alert Network which has a comprehensive coverage that includes airlift and hyperbaric chamber treatment. In case you do not have a DAN Insurance coverage, you can purchase it at an extra cost.

Before boarding your vessel, you will also need to sign the Liability Release Form where a vessel crew will be happy to assist and act as witness in signing the document.

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DeepSee Submersible Diving

Photo courtesy from Undersea Hunter Group

This is one of the most awaited part in your liveaboard experience in Cocos island. While the DeepSee submersible is based and carried on-board its mother ship, the MV Argo, guest from the MV Sea Hunter will still have the chance to go DeepSee diving when these vessels meet at Cocos Island for 2 to 4 days.

However, you should be aware that DeepSee is not included in your trip price and we highly suggest that you reserve and pre-pay your DeepSee dives prior to your trip date in order to guarantee a seat for you. In the event that your DeepSee Dive is cancelled due to technical and environmental factors, we will give you a full refund of the payment you have made for the DeepSee dive.

For more information, please read our related article about DeepSee Submersible.

Preparations before and after the Liveaboard Trip

San Jose International Airport (SJO), Costa Rica. Photo courtesy from Foodie International

Arrival in Costa Rica

Perhaps, the most important thing that you should note is that you have to be in Costa Rica (particularly in San Jose) at least a day before the start of your liveaboard trip and that you should take care of your flight details and airfare. For passengers coming from other areas outside the US continent, we suggest that you should be in Costa Rica at least 2 days prior to your liveaboard trip. This is a great way in addressing missed flight connections or when your luggage is accidentally lost or left behind. Direct flights to San Jose International Airport (SJO) is highly recommended.

About your accommodation while in Costa Rica, you have the liberty to choose among the long-list of hotels. However, for considerations of travel pick-up going to Puntarenas where your vessel awaits, you can stay in one of our four partner hotels, namely: Grano de Oro, Park Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites and Costa Rica Marriot which are all located in San Jose. In case you are booked in another hotel, you will have to meet our shuttle (Fiesta Tours) at one of these hotels.

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Passport, VISA and Other Important Travel Documents

Photo courtesy from Wikipedia

If you are an American or Canadian citizen, coming in to Costa Rica only requires you to have a passport and having a VISA is not necessary. For non-US or non-Canadian Citizens, a US or Canadian VISA will suffice an entry to Costa Rica. In case you are coming from one of the South American Countries, be sure to have a yellow-fever vaccination as it is required prior to entry in Costa Rica.

To make things sure, we highly suggest that you first check with the Costa Rican Embassy nearest to you if VISA and other documentary requirements are required for an entry. Please click on this link (www.costarica-embassy.org) for more details on Passport, VISA and other travel documents for an entry to Costa Rica.

When you make a reservation with us, you will be sent an email with a link to an Application Form where you need to thoroughly fill-out. Your application form is a pre-requisite in securing sailing permits and trip logistics. In this form, you can place the size and gear specification in case you are planning to rent one. But take note that you have to bring your own scuba gear and equipment. The only scuba equipment that will be provided by the vessel is your air tanks, nitrox tanks and weights. Scuba tanks on board have a capacity of 80 cu.ft. (12 liters). Just in case you need a bigger tank capacity, we have 100 cu.ft. (15 liters). So place this reservation in your application form as 15 liter tanks are limited in quantity. In case you want to take the nitrox certification course, please also include this in the application form so that the necessary course certification forms will be forwarded and filled-out by you in advance. The cost of the nitrox certification course is $200 and will be conducted during the 36-hour crossing over.

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Boarding and Accommodation

Photo courtesy from Undersea Hunter Group

Once your shuttle arrives in Puntarenas port, our staff will lead you to your assigned vessel. On board, you will be directed to your cabin which can accommodate 2 passengers each. In case you are traveling alone, you will be sharing the cabin with another passenger.

Each cabin has a twin sharing system and reserving a cabin all by yourself will depend on the vessel you are booked. In the case of MV Argo, you will pay twice the trip price with an automatic 10% discount while MV Sea Hunter will only charge you an additional 50% of the trip price. As far as the MV Sea Hunter is concerned, they have 2 Suite Deluxe Cabins located on the upper deck where you can reserve it for an extra cost. If you wish to do so all of these, please do not forget to include this in your Application Form or just inform us in advance.

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Attire and Clothing when going to Cocos Island

Photo courtesy from Undersea Hunter Group

Please do not wear Tuxedo or coat and tie when you board and stay in the vessel . . . not unless you wish to do so. What we recommend instead are comfortable clothing that lightens and refreshes your vacation. These are the likes of casual and cool cotton attire which is best represented with T-shirts, shorts and flip flops. If you are planning to bring along your towel, you might as well leave it back home. We will provide towels for each guest. And do not worry if you will be using soggy and wet towels as fresh dry towels will be provided after each dive.

Night time in Cocos Island can be chilly and drizzly and you will feel this especially when you go to the upper open decks. With this, we highly suggest that you bring along a sweater, jacket or windbreaker which will be sufficient for a cool evening. In case you are using full-foot fins, do not forget to bring a pair of booties that you can use during your visit and walk to the island.

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Communications, Internet and On-board Electrical Outlets

There is no telecommunications signal for mobile phones in Cocos Island as it is located far offshore. However, there is a satellite phone on-board which cost US$3.50 per minute. If you are an internet savvy, we wish to inform you that there is no free wifi on-board the vessel. But in cases that you really need to access the web, there are two ways to do this. You can bring your electronic gadget during your visit to the island and connect to the wifi from the Ranger Station or purchase an internet card onboard your vessel where usage will be based on data.

As far electrical outlets is concerned, our vessels both has 110 and 220 volts AC. But you have to take note that the electrical sockets inside your cabin only has 110 volts AC. So, if your gadget is 220 volts, the main saloon is the perfect place to recharge them. All our electrical outlets have standard US and European sockets and not the British style sockets.

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On-board Purchases and Payment Method

Aside from foods, snacks, softdrinks and beer which is already included in the trip price, there are items that you can purchase on-board. For example, if you want to indulge yourself for some wine, you can purchase a bottle for a reasonable price.

In case you are now decided to do the deepsee submersible, you can purchase a seat onboard as long as there are vacant slots. Souvenirs items, like shirts, necklace and books can also be purchase on the main saloon.

All your purchases will be accumulated and charged on the last day of the trip and payment can either be in cash (US dollars or Euros) or Credit Cards (Visa, MasterCard and American Express). Please take note that we do not accept traveller’s or personal checque.  For credit card holders, we highly advise that to call your bank before the start of your trip and notify them that you will do a large purchase outside of the country of your origin. This transaction will come in handy especially if you plan to do and purchase a seat on-board for the deepsee submersible.

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Departure from Costa Rica

The moment your vessel arrives back in Puntarenas port, you will be shuttled back to your hotel in San Jose. We recommend that you stay for the night and take your flight back the next day or onwards.

In case you need to go back home for office or personal reasons and wish depart Costa Rica at the very same date your vessel arrives back in Puntarenas, it is still possible as long as you book your flight from 1:00pm onwards. However, this is not a 100% guarantee in terms of time precision as other factors are to be considered like high tide and other unforeseen circumstances. But these delays are very rare as everything is all planned out.

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Policy on Trip Cancellation

For reasons that we do not have any control, you always have the option to cancel your liveaboard trip to Cocos Island. However, we have a cancellation fee of 10% from the deposit if cancellations are made 1 year before the trip. In case the cancellation is made 6 months prior to the trip date, a 10% cancellation fee will be charged based on the total trip price and not from the initial deposit made. You also have to take note that all payments made within 180 days from the date of departure are non-refundable.

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CY 2018 Schedule of Liveaboard Trips to Cocos Island

CY 2019 Schedule of Liveaboard Trips to Cocos Island

Due to high demand of liveaboard trips to Cocos island, as early as this year, we are publishing the CY 2019 trips for you to choose your preferred schedule and prepare for the ultimate diving adventure of your life. Travel Dates Name of Vessel Price (US$) Remarks Jan 2 – 12, 2019 MV Argo 5,295 […]