Bill Beard’s dive trips are with a PADI 5-Star IDC Center operating out of the Playa del Coco, Playa Hermosa, Playa Ocotal, Playa Panama, and Playa Bonita.
The Papagayo area has over 20 local dive sites all within about 10 to 20 minutes from shore. Schooling fish can be found on every dive site, as well as small critters like sea horses, frogfish, and harlequin clown shrimp, and the big stuff like whale sharks, white tip sharks, bull sharks, manta rays, spotted eagle rays, cow nose rays, stingrays, humpback whales, orcas, pilot whales, false killer whales, sailfish, marlin and much more. Local dive sites include Virador/Turning Point, Monkey Head, Tortuga/Key Largo, Argentina Point, Sorpresa, Tiburones / Shark Shallows, Punta Gorda and Tranquilo
Papagayo Dive Sites
Argentine Point – You never know what you will see at this dive site. Amazing numbers of southern stingrays in the US winter months, Eagle Rays throughout the year, a great array of schooling fish, and occasionally white-tip sharks. The top of the rock is only 10-12 feet and there can be quite a bit of surge, but incredible life and colorful juveniles hanging out there as well as Pacific tarpon, spadefish, grunts, and horse-eye jacks. As you descend to the point at 80 feet there is no surge.
Surprise – Located west of the big island and Aregentine Point this submerged dive site begins at 60 feet and is a large volcanic rock that is full of marine life. Famous for schools of spotted eagle rays and large amberjacks, it is a favorite for night dives & cup coral. There is a current here so you must go down and return by the mooring line. There is a smaller rock nearby in 105 feet that always has white tip sharks. Good spot for goliath groupers and an occasional whale shark.
Monkey Head – This huge exposed rock pinnacle looks just like King Kong when you are beside it. Huge growths of cacti on the top of the rock make it look like Kong is sporting rasta hair. We have seen everything from large schools of eagle rays and jacks, small critters like seahorses or harlequin clown shrimp, and even whale sharks and manta rays. A big school of Pacific tarpon (sabalo or milkfish) always hangs out on the south end of the rock.
Punta Gorda – A great spot for macro photography. Everything from white-tips to frogfish. Several varieties of eels in rocks. One of the few sites with hard coral. Usually grunts, sergeant majors, and stonefish everywhere. We have seen many golden cow-nosed rays on the site as well as sea-horses and occasional eagle rays. This is 15 – 20 feet deep on one side of the pinnacle and drops to 75-80 feet on the outside with most of the life at the top of the rocks.
Bajo Tiburone – This is a great site for white-tip sharks. You can also see mobula and southern stingrays here. There are some crevices that house white-tips as well as squirrelfish. The top of the rock is at 20 – 30 feet, making the safety stop interesting. We have sighted 200 mobulas on many occasions on this site. There are 3 basic rock formations with sand channels in between. There are five rocks here leading out to the north at 70 feet. The last (5th) rock is called Big Surprise and is 100 feet in depth. Perfect for deep diving advance or specialty certification.
Aquarium – This could not be a more aptly named site. Every fish that is available in our area has been seen here as well as turtles, tiger sharks, and goliath groupers. The spiraling schools of grunts and yellow-tails are gigantic numbering easily in the thousands. The top of the submerged rock is 50 feet although we generally limit ourselves to around 80 feet, there are spots as deep as 130.
Virador – This is a singular rock pinnacle measuring 20 feet on the front side and 70 feet or so on the backside. This is a large rock and most divers don’t make it completely around and will surface between Virador & Monkey Head. There are horse-eye jacks, butterflyfish, grunts, sergeant majors, and many other varieties of schooling fish. We have also seen the harlequin/clown shrimp here and several varieties of starfish. You may see white-tip sharks at 70 feet in the sand at the north tip of the rock, goliath groupers, and turtles too. When you are back on the boat, keep your eyes open as there are usually mobula rays jumping for joy or to rid parasites, we can’t be sure which!
Los Meros – This is a perfect place for a check-out or refresher dive as well as a great local dive. You will not see any larger schools of grunts on any other site we have. There also eel, octopi, sea horses, harlequin clown shrimp, and nudibranchs. If you want to go deeper than 40 feet, you will have to bring a shovel. There are far too many sites to name them all, but this will give you an idea of some of our local sites. The sites are all volcanic rock formations and rock pinnacles.
Tortuga – Tortuga is a local dive site that is frequented often by our shop as it is one of our favorites in the area. The dive site is named Tortuga, not because you will see an abundance of Tortugas (turtles) but because at the bottom of the mooring line you will find a large cement block in the shape of a turtle. The dive site is a quick 5-10 minute boat trip from our location at Playa Ocotal
Punta Gorda – Punta Gorda never fails to please. With a maximum depth of 70 feet, this is a great dive site for beginners and advanced divers alike. Rolling off the boat you find the journey to the bottom on the mooring line is a short 25-foot descent. As you make the descent to the bottom you can expect the excitement to begin as hundreds of small colorful fishes school around the divers. We have seen schools of cow nose rays and Pacific tar.
- 2 Tank AM Boat Dive – Papagayo Price – $85