Jumping on a liveaboard cruise is one of the best ways to see the beautiful Central American country of Costa Rica.

It’s famously described as a place where two worlds collide – dramatic cobalt oceans harmonizing with vibrant emerald jungles.

A liveaboard cruise is the best, and only, way to make the long journey to Cocos Island, Costa Rica’s most famous scuba diving destination.

This island is found 550km southwest of the Costa Rican mainland and is a haven for large pelagic species. It is frequently listed amongst the best dive sites in the world. 

When it comes to picking a liveaboard, it can get tricky with all the different options.

After some in-depth research, we’ve narrowed down the list.

For a quick answer, the best liveaboards in Costa Rica are:

Want to see some other great Costa Rican liveaboard options? Read on…

Why go on a liveaboard?

A liveaboard is one of the best ways to dive any location. The vessel ensures easy travel between dive sites and many offer up to 5 dives a day. After your day of diving, you can kick back and relax with your fellow divers, before being gently rocked to sleep by the motion of the ocean…costa rican coastline

Liveaboards come in many shapes and sizes, but choosing your perfect cruise is half the fun! You can opt for luxury or gritty budget travel, pure diving or itineraries that include on land excursions, tiny yachts for small groups or giant catamarans – the possibilities are endless. 

Some locations, like Indonesia, have dozens of vessels whilst smaller countries have fewer to choose from. Whilst many liveaboards allow customers to rent their gear, it is usually a good idea to have some of your own. Check out our complete guide to scuba diving gear if you’re not sure where to start!

The most popular scuba diving location for liveaboards in Costa Rica is Cocos Island. In fact, it’s so far away that it’s the only way to dive there. This offers a unique opportunity to see over 500km of open Pacific ocean and fully immerse yourself in the diving lifestyle.

Best Liveaboards in Costa Rica

Below are the very best options for liveaboard diving in Costa Rica. Jump in…

argo liveaboard

Argo is a 40m luxury yacht that operates year-round, taking divers to the world-famous Cocos Island, which is often ranked in the top 10 places to dive in the world.

Catering to a maximum of 18 guests in 9 cabins, there is plenty of breathing space on board the Argo.

Each room has an ensuite bathroom with shower and hot water individually controlled air conditioning and a choice of double or twin beds.

Communal areas include the sleek, air-conditioned lounge as well as a spacious sundeck which is ideal for sunbathing between dives or watching the sun go down with a complimentary drink in hand.

Entertainment facilities include a library, TV and DVD systems, BBQ area and observation deck. The chef prepares three fresh meals a day which can be enjoyed in the indoor or alfresco dining areas. 

argo liveaboard twin bedroomDiving amenities include rebreather and nitrox capabilities, which are included in the price.

Specialized camera and charging stations will ensure your gear stays in perfect working order.

There are three dive tenders to ferry passengers to dive sites and a host of skilled and passionate staff, ready to attend to your every need.

Pros
  • Freshly prepared food
  • Abundant space
  • Complimentary nitrox and drinks
Cons
  • Tricky sites for beginners
  • Long ocean journey
  • No wifi
AC
Yes
# Divers
18
Wifi
No
Nitrox
Yes
Drinks
Yes
Price
Avg

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sea hunter liveaboard

Sea Hunter is a former commercial diving support boat for the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico, so it was literally built to cater to a diver’s every need and offers a very smooth ride. She spends most of the year visiting the epic dive sites of Cocos Island in the Pacific Ocean, but also runs itineraries to Silver Bank off the coast of the Dominican Republic during the spring.

Once she was renovated for liveaboard use, she became an incredibly comfortable vessel. In 10 double and twin cabins, she sleeps up to 20 guests. All cabins have ensuite facilities and individually controlled air-conditioning. She has an air-conditioned saloon with TV and DVD system as well as a diner-style indoor dining area, whilst the alfresco dining area is ideal for taking in the beautiful surroundings. There is a study room with a small library and computers for photo editing. The chef provides 3 fresh western-Costa Rican fusion meals a day, along with complimentary alcoholic beverages and snacks.

sea hunter liveaboard libraryThe shaded dive deck has plenty of room for the divers and includes complimentary facilities to accommodate nitrox, side mount and rebreather divers.

For most of the year, Sea Hunter visits the spectacular Cocos Island which is nestled in the Pacific Ocean and is well known as a pelagic playground. Marine life includes iconic, schooling hammerheads, whale sharks and sailfish. She also visits Silver Bank, a beautiful reef off the coast of the Dominican Republic during the spring months.

Pros
  • Built to support divers
  • Very stable in the water
  • Fresh Costa Rican cuisine
Cons
  • Tricky sites for beginners
  • Long ocean journey
  • No wifi
AC
Yes
# Divers
20
Wifi
No
Nitrox
Yes
Drinks
Yes
Price
Avg

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okeanos aggressor liveaboard

The Okeanos Aggressor is part of the established liveaboard chain “Aggressor”. This 33m long yacht is typically world-class and offers year-round trips to the world-renowned Cocos Island.

She caters for up to 22 divers in 10 luxury staterooms. Each has an ensuite bathroom with showers, storage space, ocean view window, entertainment system and individually controlled air-conditioning. There is an air-conditioned interior saloon with sofas, bar and dining area. There is also a small library and photo editing nook. A number of sundecks with loungers and shaded alfresco relaxation areas are provided, ideal for kicking back after a long day of diving. Food is freshly prepared and showcases local and American cuisines, whilst soft drinks, beer and wine are complimentary. 

okeanos aggressor liveaboard dive deckDiving facilities include a spacious dive deck and diving tenders for easy travel to dive sites. The 3 tier camera table with low-pressure air hoses will keep your gear in top condition and the personal gear lockers make gearing up easy. Nitrox is available for an extra fee.

Pros
  • Luxury facilities
  • Complimentary drinks service
  • Fresh Costa Rican cuisine
Cons
  • Tricky sites for beginners
  • Long ocean journey
  • Expensive
AC
Yes
# Divers
20
Wifi
Paid
Nitrox
Extra
Drinks
Yes
Price
High

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okeanos aggressor ii liveaboard

The second vessel in the Aggressor fleet to make the list, the Okeanos Aggressor II- formerly named Wind Dancer. She runs year-round itineraries to the infamous Cocos Island, known for its pelagic life like schooling hammerheads and manta rays and its wild, remote location.

The Okeanos Aggressor can accommodate up to 22 guests in 11 opulent staterooms. All cabins feature private bathrooms, storage space, entertainment system and individually controlled air-conditioning. A spacious air-conditioned lounge and dining area is where you will enjoy your freshly prepared meals of both local and American fare.

okeanos aggressor ii interior bedroomThere is also an alfresco dining area and sundeck with loungers, an ideal location for sunbathing between dives or enjoying a complimentary alcoholic drink in the hot tub as the sun goes down. There is wifi, if needed, which is available for an extra fee.

The shaded diving deck has individual gear stations and two dive tenders for easy transport to dive sites. Nitrox is offered for an extra fee.

Pros
  • Wifi (paid)
  • Modern, luxury cabins
  • Hot tub
Cons
  • Tricky sites for beginners
  • Long ocean journey
  • Extra cost for nitrox
AC
Yes
# Divers
22
Wifi
Paid
Nitrox
Extra
Drinks
Yes
Price
High

Visit Website

When to go to Costa Rica

Most liveaboards in Costa Rica operate year-round though, like many tropical locales, Costa Rica has a rainy and dry season, each with their own benefits.

The rainy season is between May and November. The weather is normally quite predictably sunny, but with a couple of hours of rain in the afternoons. This is an awesome season to dive for advanced divers who love pelagics as big sharks like bulls and hammerheads are attracted to the influx of nutrients around Cocos Island. There are also fewer tourists at this time of year, so you can find some great deals. Bear in mind that hurricane season runs from June to November on the Caribbean side, though Costa Rica rarely has any storms.

costa rica whale sharkDecember to May is the dry season for Costa Rica, where very little rain falls. This is the busiest time of year when tourists flock to the tiny country. This time of year offers the best conditions for beginners, with calm seas and visibility exceeding 30m.

Coastal water temperatures are normally between 26 and 29°C year-round, though offshore locations such as Cocos Island can be significantly colder. Cool currents from December to March can cause temperatures to plummet to 19oC, but the additional nutrients in the water attracts humpback whales, pilot whales, giant oceanic mantas, whale sharks and other pelagic beauties.

Scuba Diving in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is unique in its diving opportunities. Literally translating to “Rich Coast”, it is bordered by both the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, separated by only 120km of mountainous terrain.

The Caribbean coast offers paradise diving. Rich and colorful reefs, thriving with marine life, this is the coast that is the least explored. Many of the coral reefs are protected to ensure the longevity of the species found there. It is generally the shallower and more protected coastline, making it ideal for all divers, but perfect for beginners.manta rays costa rica

In contrast, the Pacific side is famed for its abundant pelagic life. Generally, these dive sites are calm and suitable for all levels of divers but some locations are known for currents. You can enjoy a large marine reserve in the south of the country and a dramatic underwater landscape made up of huge boulders and pinnacles. Many sites are well known for their manta ray encounters and each year, humpback whales migrate up the coast.

The most famous dive sites in Costa Rica are the small offshore islands enrobed deep in the Pacific Ocean. The dive sites on these islands are generally deep and can have intense wildlife encounters and unpredictable currents, which makes them best suited to experienced divers. 

The Catalina Islands have fascinating caves, formed from local volcanic activity, which are now carpeted in bright corals and filled with reef sharks. 

Bat Island is famed for close encounters with its intimidating residents – bull sharks which can gather in large groups. 

The pinnacle of Caño Island offers pelagic encounters that most divers can’t even dream up – manta rays, dolphins, pilot whales, humpback whales and even pods of orca! 

The small group of Tortuga (meaning turtle) Islands has a number of excellent shipwrecks within recreational limits including the Caroline Star and Franklin Chang. hammerhead shark silhouette costa rica

Cocos Island is the most frequently visited by liveaboards. It boasts fantastic pelagic and current diving but the most cited attraction is the iconic image of huge schools of hammerhead sharks, silhouetted against the bright blue ocean.

Conclusion

Costa Rica is one of the best countries for scuba diving in the world, with two fantastic coastlines to explore.

A liveaboard cruise is one of the best ways to explore this beautiful country and offers the only opportunity to dive at remote and world-class dive sites like Cocos Island. These islands are tricky to get to, but they are undoubtedly worth the effort.

Fortunately, jumping on one of these fantastic liveaboards is a super-easy way of enjoying some spectacular diving!

Not quite ready to commit to a liveaboard? No problem! Check out our ultimate guide to diving in Costa Rica here, for a look at the terrestrial options available!

Explore Costa Rican Liveaboards Now!

 

 

Rachel Thannhauser Administrator

Rachel is a divemaster and full-time writer from Southampton, England. She loves the ocean, CrossFit, cooking, and travelling as much as possible – pandemics allowing!

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