Welcome to ScubaBoard, an online scuba diving forum community where you can join over 205,000 divers diving from around the world. If the topic is related to scuba diving, this is the place to find divers talking about it. To gain full access to ScubaBoard (and make this large box go away) you must register for a free account. As a registered member you will be able to:
Participate in over 500 dive topic forums and browse from over 5,500,000 posts.
Communicate privately with other divers from around the world.
Post your own photos or view from well over 100,000 user submitted images.
Gain access to our free classifieds marketplace to buy, sell and trade gear, travel and services.
Use the calendar to organize your events and enroll in other members' events.
Find a dive buddy or communicate directly with scuba equipment manufacturers.
All this and much more is available to you absolutely free when you register for an account, so sign up today!
If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact the ScubaBoard Support Team.
Looking for feedback on where to consider staying for diving excursions to Catalina and Bat Islands. I did see a recommendation for Ocotal Beach Resort but honestly some of the recent reviews aren't very impressive so I'm trying to consider all options.
You're talking about staying in the Playa del Coco area, I believe. I had a nice time at Ocotal in 2003 or 2004, but haven't stayed there since then. You might decide what level of accommodations you're seeking, and contact a couple of dive shops in the area. I was pleased with Summer Salt, and Rich Coast also has generally good reviews here. There are many dive op reviews that can be found in searches of this forum.
Remember that, from Playa del Coco, boat rides to the Cats are a shade less than an hour, and to the Bats are close to 1.5 hours. The shops do not go to those site all the time, since they need some minimum number of divers to make the trips worthwhile. The cost for Cats or Bats trips is substantial higher than for the "local" diving, which is pretty good but not for much "big stuff".
You also might check the Tamarindo(?) area, which (I believe) is about the same distance from the Bats and Cats as Playa del Coco. I don't know about the local diving there.
Ticolandia (Costa Rica) is a wonderful place for Sh*ts & Giggles. However, I would make my plans based upon non-diving related criteria, and consider a trip to the Bat or Cat islands as something extra, if time and funds allow. Stay at a resort that provides the level of luxury that you desire, and make a day trip to Playa del Coco.
It is ok for Central America Pacific costal diving: lots of morays, rock outcroppings, turbid water, etc. It's hard to compete with the world class diving on Cocos Island, and the Playa del Coco area really can't compare. That said there is another poster's account of Manta and Bull Shark sightings, neither of which I encountered when I dived there.
Several of us spent Thanksgiving week at Ocotal. We also met a large group from the Denver area there. We had an absolute blast. We did several of the local dives, plus Catalina and Bats -- prices were around $65 extra for each of those, but well worth it -- giant mantas, many bull sharks, and generally abundant life.
As for Ocotal, I too was concerned about the older reviews, but not to worry. A lot of work has been done in the last few years. Very nice rooms. Restaurant also had excellent food (although a bit pricey). Great eating in Playas del Cocos also. Best of all, the staff was absolutely spectacular -- friendly and responsive. The guys at the dive shop are also great -- very knowledgeable about the area, friendly, responsive and let us do our own thing on dives.
Very highly recommended. Do a search on Ocotal and you'll find my trip report (along with comments from one of the Denver group).
Truth is my vacation preference is 100% diving with sharks ... and not reef sharks. Sadly, an amazing hammerhead dive off of Maui has made it difficult to dive anywhere outside of Cocos Island and the Galapagos... unfortunately my experience level makes it difficult to go to those destinations. I'm specifically considering Costa Rica for the manta and bull shark diving...land excursions are great but a distant priority. It is the large stuff that attracts me
We were in Costa Rica a couple of years ago, hotel we stayed in is now the Hilton Papagayo, and we used on the on-site dive op Resort Divers. On the day we had scheduled to go to Bat Island, the other divers bailed on us, and the dive shop wanted to cancel the trip. I asked them what their profit margin was for the other divers not going, and ended up paying an additional $150 for my wife and I to be the only divers on the boat.
Needless to say, the other divers don't know what they missed!
I spent a week at Ocotal, in 2007. I paid an extra $65 for Bat Island. It was definitely the best money spent on that trip. They took us to a spot called the 'big Scare', because of an abundance of Bull sharks. However we didn't one shark. It might had been because there were 6 very huge Mantas flying around us. On the safety stop, we chased a 12 ft Black Marlin..
I realize this thread is a couple weeks old, but if you haven't already made your decision, I urge you to check out Rancho Armadillo in Playas del Coco. We just returned from there a couple days ago. We spent five nights, and four days diving with Rich Coast Diving, and both were FANTASTIC with a capital F!
If you want an Americanized resort experience, Ocotal is fine. But Rancho Armadillo is something a bit more unique, and IMO way more enjoyable: it's a large ranch owned by a former Texan, about a mile out of town up on a hill overlooking the town, so the views are stunning. Rooms are in small buildings scattered across the property, and there's a main public area with a big pool, dining area, hammock area, and a big industrial kitchen that you are free to use to cook your own meals if you want, or you can have Rick (the owner) prepare meals for you. Breakfast is included, and it's superb - incredible fresh fruits, all kinds of breads and rolls, fruit smoothies, and a make-your-own waffle bar with various fillings and toppings.
Rich Coast Diving did a great job for us. We had our own car, but the owners of the shop live two doors down from Rancho Armadillo, so they just picked us up every morning and drove us the mile to the shop. We did three days local diving, and one day at Catalina (Bats is out of season right now - currents too strong). All were wonderful. I'm getting my photos together and will be posting a full review within the next couple of days.
I truly believe Rancho Armadillo is the best option in Playas del Coco. The town itself is a little trashy - fun, but just a typical beach town. Rancho Armadillo is close enough to walk into town if you want, but far enough removed that you aren't in the middle of the crowd. And it's spectacularly gorgeous! And Rick, the owner, makes you feel like you are a guest in his home. It's a bit more expensive than some of the hotels in town, but it's totally worth it.
Check out the reviews in Trip Advisor - it's been the #1 spot in Playas del Coco for years. I haven't had a chance to post my review yet, but I'll be giving it 5 stars!