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Have you ever been curious to see what the inside of a Scalloped Hammerhead Shark's (Sphyrna lewini) mouth looks like? Ever had a desire to swim alongside Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and have Spotted Eagle Rays (Aetobatus narinari) pass you, going
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
Sphyrna lewini
in the opposite direction? Ever thought it would be cool to be encircled by a school of hundreds of 50+ lb. Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares), only to have a 6 ft. Silky Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), who had been following the school, swim right up to you? If you anwered yes to any of these questions, then Cocos Island is the place for you!

Cocos is one of the few spots in the world that absolutely promises to raise your pulse to the point it surpasses your tank's p.s.i.! Located approximately 300 miles southwest of Costa Rica, Cocos is probably the best place in the world for guaranteed encounters with big pelagics.

Hammerheads are why you go, but you can also count on seeing Pacific Manta Rays (Manta birostris), Mobula Rays (Mobula Hypostoma), Marbled Stingrays (Taeniura Meyeri),
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
Sphyrna lewini
Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), and all the aforementioned creatures. You'll also encounter so many Whitetip Reef Sharks (Triaenodon obesus), literally hundreds on every dive, that you'll reach the point of almost totally ignoring them. Don't get me wrong. Cocos isn't just about big creatures. There are plenty of small ones to keep your interest. Pacific Razorfish (Xyrichthys pavo), and Pacific Seahorses (Hippocampus ingens), to name but a few.

With this much guaranteed high-voltage, adrenaline-pumping action, there's got to be a down-side, right?!? Well, remember that comment about Cocos being 300 miles from the rest of Costa Rica... The only way to get there is via a 30-36 hour boat ride. And once you get out into the open ocean, you are just that -- in the open ocean. For the next 28 hours, there is no protection whatsover from any type of weather the Pacific Ocean decides to throw your way!

I'm told that the vast majority of crossings are rather calm, and indeed, our trip to
Whitetip Reef Shark
Triaenodon obesus
Cocos was quite fair, while our trip home was totally flat. However, if you are unlucky enough to be on a trip that is the exception to the "calm seas" rule, you will truly understand the meaning of the phrase "hating life". A couple hours of seasickness is one thing, but a day and a half straight, with no possibility of reprieve, that is another thing entirely!

The impression I got before having actually gone to Cocos was "You've gotta go really deep to see anything." While on occasion, you will encouter hammerheads virtually at the surface, and you're more likely to encounter the rest of the creatures in less than 60ft., the general rule of thumb for seeing large numbers of hammerheads is "The deeper you go, the more you see". If there were 15 or 20 hammerheads hanging out at 60ft., chances are there were 40 or 50 at 100ft., and at 130 ft... well, you get the picture. You certainly don't have to go beyond 100ft. to have a great time at Cocos, but the largest schools of hammerhead tended to be found
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
Sphyrna lewini
at 120 ft. and beyond.

The greatest thing about diving at Cocos Island, in my opinion, is that unlike many places where if you are "lucky", you might see a few big creatures, you are absolutely guaranteed to see tons of the "big boys" here. This is a place where "might" connotates Short-Finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), which we saw a school of on the way back to the mainland, Sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus), or the biggest fish of them all, the Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus). As for seeing hammerheads, silkys, mantas, turtles, eagle rays, and all the rest, there's no "might" about it, you will, and not just one or two...

As P.J., our Captain and Divemaster, loved to say just before we were to embark on yet another underwater Cocos adventure, "This is gonna be GREAT!!!" P.J., you couldn't have been more right!