Scuba diving in the Coco Islands, Costa Rica
Description of Scuba diving in the Coco Islands, Costa Rica
The Coco Islands, aka Cocos Island National Park, is a collection of some of the most sought after dive sites in Costa Rica but also in the world, about 550 km off the Pacific coast. As well as boasting spectacular coral and over three hundred species of fish, it is the only island in this region with tropical rainforest on it. Marine species include yellowfin tuna, giant mantas, sailfish, and various species of shark.
You spend the majority of this trip on board the 120ft diving boat, with a day and a half to get there. The boat sleeps up to 22 passengers, with a mixture of cabin sizes. Once we get to the Coco Islands, you will have three dives every day for seven full days of diving. We also include two night dives, depending on weather conditions.
Please note that we will be diving to good depths on this trip and for this reason, the level of diving required is Advanced / NITROX.
PlanetOn this fascinating and unique diving adventure to the Coco Islands, off the coast of Costa Rica, you will get to witness some of Central America’s most diverse and awe-inspiring landscapes as well as a plethora of intriguing and unique wildlife and sea-life. As the organisers of this tour we make it our responsibility to ensure that your tour has a completely positive effect on these fantastic environments and wildlife populations. Ways in which we do this include only using socially and environmentally responsible providers and partners who make it their aim to protect the environments in which their tours operate.
The main operators of your tour are fully committed to ensuring that the tour is carried out in an as environmentally friendly way as possible, and having received Green Deal certification from the Rainforest Alliance, reflecting its commitment to environmentally sensitive, sustainable tourism practices, you can be assured that these responsibilities have been carried out to their fullest. Fuel-efficient vehicles will be used throughout your tour, recycling is not only promoted but imposed, and all tours operated have recently been redesigned to reduce, if not eliminate, their carbon footprint. The operators also donate large portions of their profit annually to numerous environmental programs including reforestation and erosion protection initiatives as well as educational programs which help local people to become more aware of the impact their day-to-day living has on the environment.
A large portion of your tour will be spent aboard your dive boat and your expert local guides and instructors will know these waters like no other. You will be briefed on all aspects of safety including appropriate interaction with all wildlife and sea-life you will encounter. You will also be briefed on how to operate in an environmentally responsible manner, including instructions for correct waste disposal and appropriate usage of water. All customers are also provided with reusable water bottles to minimise plastic waste. The dive boat you will be residing on carries a maximum of 22 people and this in itself limits the impact on the environments.
For the remaining portions of your tour you will be staying in carefully selected accommodations on mainland Costa Rica and we make it our priority to ensure that all lodges and hotels used on this tour have appropriate “green” credentials and practices in place to preserve the environments in which they are situated in. For example the Hotel Villa Caletas where you will begin your tour has been awarded a 4 Leafs Certificate of Sustainable Tourism from the tourism board, with an utmost priority on keeping the resort as ecologically neutral as they can. Solar panelling has recently been installed and the hotel also offers hot water which is obtained from photo-voltaic systems, they refrain from using chemical pesticide, are involved in reforestation projects and have their own green garden. They strive to "save the environment one step at a time".
Likewise, the Xandari Resort where you will spend your final night in Costa Rica is certified by the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT) in Sustainable Tourism, and currently has a sustainability level of 4 out of 5 rating. As part of their sustainability program they use CFL bulbs that consume 75 percent less energy and produce 75 percent less heat than standard bulbs, efficient LED lights, and solar lighting on walkways. Solar panels heat 2 of the swimming pools, guests and luggage are transported via electric carts and water conservation is practiced by collecting rainfall and diverting some of the river water into canals that are then used to irrigate their gardens. On top of this all paper, glass, aluminium and cardboard is recycled, biodegradable and non-toxic cleaning products are used throughout the hotel, an alternative to chlorine is used in the swimming pools and organic compost is created from food and garden waste and used on site. The hotel also has its own Plant-a-Tree Program, a way for guests, employees, children and neighbours to contribute to reforestation. Xandari provides a tree, the know-how and location – and an individual, couple, family or group carefully plants it, with a staff member’s help or guidance. You will be encouraged to take part in this project.
As a company we firmly believe that environmental responsibility starts at home. We encourage recycling of waste as a company and as individuals. Where possible for business use we use public transport. We are also heavily involved with a project to recycle used or damaged binoculars, which are then sent to conservation projects across the world.
As well as protecting the landscapes that Costa Rica is renowned for we also place huge emphasis on safeguarding the abundance of animal species that reside here. In all accommodations throughout your stay you will find that the owners and operators are exceptionally passionate about the on-going conservation of these marvellous creatures. A slice of the cost of many of the portions of your tour will go towards efforts in place. As a company we support many wildlife organisations worldwide.
PeopleAs a company we believe in promoting tourism as a sustainable natural resource with the power to conserve, protect and improve lives. This translates into ensuring that your trip to Costa Rica has a 100% positive effect on the people who call the areas you will be visiting home. The providers and accommodations we use on this tour are fully committed to their social responsibility practices and this is demonstrated in many ways.
The operators of this tour are committed to “protecting and respecting cultural resources”. They have developed tours that support cultural diversity and protect the heritage of local communities. Tour guides are trained in educating visitors and ensuring that all tours are respectful of local communities, traditions and ways of life. The tours also strive to incorporate locally produced products and to hire and train staff and guides from local communities.
Jungle treks that use local guides provide alternative income for local people and dissuades them from work that requires reforestation of local areas and also provides education as to the importance of conservation and its link with tourism and alternative income sources. Additionally the company donates money to programs aligned with the protection and support of cultural heritage and environmental protection, as well as offering student scholarships and education programs. They contribute vast amounts to charities throughout Central America such as Naru and Wings, which provides quality reproductive health education and services to underserved, primarily rural youths, women and men. The company has its own foundation, with the purpose of “giving back” to local communities by supporting grass-roots NGOs throughout the region.
It is one of our priorities to ensure that all of the accommodation providers we use have proven track records of treating staff well and fairly, along with ensuring they uphold their commitments to the communities in which they operate. For example at the Xandari Resort local employment of people from Tacacorí is favored. Out of 57 total employees, 44 are from the small village of Tacacorí where Xandari is located and they provide excellent training and development programmes. The manager grew up and still lives 100m from the entrance and many of the local employees have been with Xandari since its inception, providing them with a consistent, dependable work force, whilst they provide a consistent, dependable employer. Regular donations are also made to the Asociación Pro Ayuda al Niño y Adolescente en la Salud (Assocation for Child and Adolescent Health) which helps provide medical attention to children and adolescents from lower income families. They also support the Asociación de Terranostra, an organisation that pioneers in educating the public on the proper management of solid waste in Costa Rica and raises awareness for the conservation of water resources. They are also involved with Asociación de Desarrollo de Tacacorí (Tacacorí Assocation of Development) which ensures that the needs of the local community are being addressed, such as maintenance of roads, improved lighting, and affordable public transportation services.
Your liveaboard diving tour will be operated by local people, bringing direct investment into the area. Solely using local agencies and providers means we have up to date local information and can therefore provide the most relevant information in our pre-departure literature. This includes information on on-going initiatives and community efforts that we actively encourage our customers to become involved in, including schemes to provide school children with equipment, cultural etiquette and advice on how to engage with and help the local communities. We offer first-hand advice on creating meaningful and respectful relationships between tourists and residents and suggest local areas and communities to visit gaining cultural insights along the way, along with advice on where to buy souvenirs (to ensure the proceeds are going directly to the vendors), where to eat & where to drink.
As a company we are proud of our principle based values which our community can always depend on. We support several home and overseas charities, organisations and campaigns including AfriCat, Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), Save the Albatross, South Georgia Habitat Restoration Project, Wader Trust, Wildlife SOS India and sponsorship of individual and underprivileged children in many countries. We are committed to ethically working with overseas partners who employ and support local communities and local guides who know and love their region like no other, delighted to share knowledge and are dedicated to looking after our valued passengers.