Hammerheads Sharks
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Cocos – Island of the Sharks

August – Mid-September

2024 Dates Coming Soon
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11 Days / 10 Nights

US$4,995 pp. dbl occ.

2024 DATES

Destination Overview

Cocos Island Hammerhead

Cocos Island Costa Rica – Island of the Sharks

Join us this summer for an unforgettable adventure to Cocos, the Island of the Sharks. This 6,000-acre UNESCO World Heritage site is the only island with a tropical rainforest in the eastern Pacific. It holds great fascination for divers, as it serves as the first landmark encountered by the north equatorial countercurrent and acts as a confluence point for marine currents. This unique combination creates the perfect environment for large migratory pelagic species, including hammerhead and tiger sharks, as well as all the other critters that Cocos is famous for.

The diving will be led by a crew and dive guides who are Cocos veterans and know the secrets to amazing dives around the island of the sharks. Our trips take place during peak season when the density of hammerhead sharks is at its highest, giving you the best chance to encounter whale sharks, humpback whales, and much more.

Update – May 11th: We have gained permission from the Costa Rican authorities to use our 132-foot flagship, the Nautilus Explorer, on our Cocos Island and near-coastal ocean and rainforest adventures. Our beautiful ocean stabilized Explorer features 4 levels of accommodation, huge back deck and camera tables, separate dining room and salon with million-dollar views and of course a fresh water hot tub.

Chatham Bay - Cocos Island Tours

Peak Season Diving

Why summer trips? Because that’s known as the best time to visit, and August is the single most popular month.

Cocos Island is famous for being one of the hottest shark diving destinations in the world. The schooling scalloped hammerheads are legendary. In recent years, tiger sharks have become more common. Whitetip reef sharks and silkies, our favourite “puppies of the sea” are common. Other species regularly encountered include galapagos, blacktop, silvertip, as well as many species of rays, especially around the cleaning stations. It’s easy to get lost in mesmerizing giant schools of big eyed jacks and mutton snapper.

“The rainy season” is from June through December, when the deep ocean upwellings attract manta rays and whale sharks can sometimes be seen daily. In July and August 2021, as well as August and September 2022, humpback whales were spotted in the sheltered anchorages. Summer is also when typically the most hammerhead sharks are in the area. Visibility can be lower during this time, ranging from 90-ft down to 30-ft with plankton in the upper water column, but rain itself usually only lasts for 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon. Water temps around 80F. And of course, everything shoreside is blooming with life and incredibly green during this season. Hiking the island will be offered. Special kudos to the government of Costa Rica for banning the fishing of hammerhead sharks.

Sample Itinerary

Sample Itinerary to Cocos Island of the Sharks

Bienvenidos a Costa Rica!!
On arrival at SJO (San José international airport), we recommend checking in to the Marriott Hotel Hacienda Belen to rest, refresh, and head out for some local adventures prior to meeting at our hospitality suite on the day of boarding. Our Cabo based concierges are on standby prior to your trip to assist with pre-trip questions and hotel reservations. SJO gets very busy when the international flights arrive, and while we can prearrange transfers with pleasure, it’s generally easier to hire a local taxi outside the arrivals hall.

Day 1: We will have a hospitably suite and someone from Nautilus at the Marriott to assist you and complete your check-in. Please check-in and be ready to go at our hospitality suite by 12 noon latest. We encourage you to leave your luggage with us after you check out of your room. The shuttle to your ship will be ready at 12 pm and leaving 12:30 pm latest for the transfer to Puntarenas where our crew will be waiting to help you board our beautiful Nautilus Explorer. We will sail as soon as everyone is onboard for the 33 – 36 hour crossing to Cocos.

Day 2: Your ship is a heavy steel stabilized oceangoing ship which will give you the best ride possible. We encourage you to relax and it’s usually a good idea to take some anti-seasickness medicine just in case. Far better to feel 100% and enjoy the crossing rather than not take meds and to feel under the weather… There will be ample time for briefings and setting up dive and camera gear, and of course, cocktail hour at 7 pm with all our other guests!

Days 3 – 9: Enjoy some of the best diving in the world on the pinnacles surrounding cocos. Choice of dive sites at the discretion of the park rangers and influenced by Mother Ocean, with a lot of input from your captain and dive guides. Typically there will be opportunity for 2 dives in the morning and 1 in the afternoon with water temps 78 – 82F (27 – 28C). Plus the opportunity to go ashore several times, whale watch with the humpbacks, relax, and have a great time!!

Day 10: We will be making tracks back to Puntarenas unfortunately. Packing gear up. Visiting with new friends. Planning your next adventure!

Day 11: Early arrival in port and onto the shuttle by 07:30 am for the reason that most international flights depart between 11:30 am and 2 pm. We should be able to get you back to the San José Airport in good time to make the same day flight home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cocos Island of the Sharks – FAQs


What dive experience is needed?
50 logged dives and advanced open water is the bare minimum experience required to safely dive around Cocos Island. More experience is better and all divers should have good buoyancy skills. The diving can be challenging. There could be strong current on some dives. Some of the dive sites are in open water and exposed to the swell. The difference between Cocos and a destination such as Socorro is that there is no navy base or airstrip on the island which means that airplane medevac is not possible. If you have a medical issue, the boat will have to return to port or at least be met part way by fast boat. For all these reasons, these trips are best suited for good experienced divers. Don’t worry if you don’t feel that you are quite ready yet for Cocos!! Come and visit us in Baja, Sea of Cortez and Socorro and we will get you all tuned and tweaked up for this great adventure!!!

Do I need to dive with a dive guide?
Yes. At Cocos, current and visibility can change dramatically within several hours. If you were to surface unexpectedly mid-dive, there is the possibility of drifting away and needing to use your Nautilus LifeLine to get rescued. In addition to those challenges, local tiger sharks can show erratic behaviour around your safety stop at 15 feet and it’s very important for our dive guides to keep a watchful eye on them. For all of these reasons, Cocos is a dive destination in which guests have to stay with our dive guides. Our dive guides are highly experienced and excellent and they will do their best to give you all the freedom and headspace you might be looking for in your diving, and of course, we are very focussed on giving shooters what they need (sorry, bad pun). Ultimately, your captain and dive guides are the final authority on whether a guest can do a specific dive or not.

What are your safety protocols?
Safety, excellence in guest experience and happy staff and crew are the cornerstones of our business. Nothing is more important than your safety. At Nautilus, we are proud to be the only dive operation in the world with ISM certification and external annual audit of an SMS (Safety Management System). This is the same certification as the largest cruise ships on the oceans. We operate within written processes, procedures and checklists that our captains and crew are trained into both initially and annually. Every dive starts with a briefing on a white board. We require that all divers carry LifeLines marine rescue GPS, SMBs and dive alerts. We will loan you one of ours if you are missing any of this safety equipment. We carry AEDs and extensive medical kits with a contract medical officer available shoreside via our sophisticated satellite communication system. NOTE: because of the remoteness of Cocos Island, we highly recommend a medical checkup before leaving on this trip.

How many dives can I expect?
Your dive schedule may vary according to weather, other dive boats and where the action is. You can generally expect 2 dives in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. Entry into the park is restricted and tightly controlled for diving allowing for not more than 65 divers in the park at any one time. An 11 day, 10 night trip provides for 7 dive days.

Is there nitrox onboard?
Yes, and it’s highly recommended for all divers. The cost is US$ 120 per trip.

Water temperature?
78- 82 °F (27 – 28 °C).

Are the boats camera friendly?
YES, VERY! Ask about rental cameras and photo pro services.


What airport do I fly into?
SJO is the code for the Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría. Please note there is a San José airport in California so please use the airport code.

How do I get to the ship?
Your job is to please get to our hospitality suite at the Marriott. Our job is to look after everything following including seamless transfer to your awaiting ship in Puntarenas.

What time can I board the ship?
When the shuttle arrives. Typically between 7 and 7:30 pm. Dinner will be waiting for you onboard!

What time do we disembark?
07:30 am shuttle transfer to San José International airport or the Marriott if you will be staying in Costa Rica for more adventure. Most international flights depart between 11:30 am and 2 pm so this timing gets you there in good time.

What dive gear do I need to bring?
We provide aluminum 80 cu. ft tanks and weightbelts. Larger steel rental cylinders are available. 5 mm wetsuit recommended to avoid losing body core temp during multiple days of repetitive diving. It’s always better to layer down rather than be cold with no options. We have rentals onboard by prior arrangement for almost anything you need. Please make any rental requests as early as possible.

What to Expect

What’s the weather like and what clothes should I bring?
Well, it’s the rainy season in the tropics!! We recommend casual and cool attire onboard (t-shirt and shorts). It can be drizzly in the afternoons and we recommend bringing a windbreaker and a fleece vest or sweater just in case. Make sure you bring good shoes if you are interested in going ashore for a hike. It’s spectacular onshore. Just wait until you see the waterfalls!

Is there internet and WhatsApp onboard?
Yes. Internet and WhatsApp connection are available for $120 per trip. Please keep in mind that a satellite tracking system at sea only gives limited speed internet access. You won’t be able to stream Netflix!!

What’s the crossing like?
It’s an open ocean crossing to Cocos Island Costa Rica. It can be smooth or it might be rough or more likely, something in-between. The Explorer is our flagship that has steamed through everything, from the current-swept chilly waters of Alaska to adventuring down to Clipperton Atoll, just north of the equator. We highly recommend the scopolamine “patch” and a glass of red wine to relax and have a snooze on the crossing. During the trip, we anchor in the calm anchorage behind Cocos.

Is there a fuel surcharge?
Of course not! We figure that dive boat companies that with fuel, surcharges year-in, year-out are just taking an extra fee onto the trip.

What’s an appropriate crew tip?
US$ 400 – $500.

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Cocos Island - White Tip Sharks

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