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A haven for bird-watchers, nature lovers and adventurers, divers are drawn to 'the gulf of parrots' by the exciting diving and promise of big fish encounters.

The Gulf of Papagayo is classic Pacific coast diving. While conditions and visibility can be variable and sometimes challenging, the rich seas support a huge amount of life, with large schools of fish and numerous pelagics. Manta rays are the area’s biggest attraction, but divers can also expect to see schools of eagle rays, devil rays, cownose rays, turtles and even bull sharks.

The Bat and Catalina Islands have the area’s best diving and the highest chance of coming face to face with the area’s big marine life. As they also lie further offshore, visibility is usually significantly better than at local sites.

Volcanoes, hot springs, waterfalls, canopy tours, bird watching, horse riding and of course the excellent beaches will all appeal to the non-diver, making this a great adventure destination for divers and non-divers alike.

A great option for those looking to experience the exceptional marine life of the eastern Pacific on a reasonable budget, the area is best visited in the dry season from December through to May.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: devil ray, green turtle, olive ridley turtle, leatherback turtle, pacific cow-nose ray

Dive trips

This dive location is featured in the following itineraries:

Costa Rica Dive Experience

Experience world-class diving at Catalina Island and in the Gulf of Papagayo on this adventure as you explore Costa Rica's Pacific coast. A great option for those looking for big fish encounters on a smaller budget.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 9 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £2,045 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Costa Rica Volcanoes & Diving

Discover the diversity of Costa Rica on this two week trip - enjoy active volcanoes and picturesque cities before heading to the Gulf of Papagayo to dive with sharks, turtles and mantas on the Pacific coast.

  • When to go: Nov-Apr
  • Duration inc. flights: 16 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,075 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Diving the Gulf of Papagayo

Enjoy a week’s diving on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast, where you can encounter spectacular black coral, large schools of fish, manta rays and numerous other pelagics, all on a reasonable budget.

  • When to go: Nov-Apr
  • Duration inc. flights: 9 days
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea