For more than three decades Nautilus Adventures has connected divers with an exciting collection of marine life encounters in the Sea of Cortez and the Socorros Islands. In 2023, the company undertook a new adventure when they sent their flagship vessel, the Nautilus Explorer, south to Costa Rica. In addition to taking in the famed hammerhead aggregations of Cocos Island, the crew explored sites along the mainland's western coastline, where they dove with sharks, rays and all manner of reef and pelagic fish species.
Inspired by this trip, the crew returned to their home port in Baja, California, where the Explorer was given some minor updates based on lessons learned from the voyage. The team also acquired a pair of 25-foot RIB tenders suitable for the open-ocean operations needed in Costa Rican waters. This work was done in anticipation of adding a suite of new Costa Rica itineraries to their schedule beginning in the summer of 2024.
During August and September, the Nautilus Explorer will be based out of the port of Golfito. This region is the gateway to the pristine rainforests of the Osa Peninsula and provides a convenient starting point for trips to Cocos Island and explorations of dive sites along Costa Rica's Pacific coast.
The Island of the Sharks
Cocos Island is a solitary volcanic peak rising from the deep waters of the Pacific. Clad in dense rainforest, this UNESCO World Heritage site inspired the fictional Isla Nublar in the Jurassic Park films. The real-life island is a nature preserve that's off limits to overnight visitation, and though outsized toothy creatures don't roam the frosts, there are plenty of apex predators awaiting in the surrounding waters.
Cocos Island is famous in diving circles for the large schools of scalloped hammerhead sharks that gather near its shores. These shark shoals, which can number into the hundreds, are at peak during August and September. And while hammerheads are often the star of the show, there's also an exciting cast of supporting characters that show up at its oceanic crossroads.
In recent years, tiger sharks have become an increasingly common sight, along with predictable populations of silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, silvertip, blacktip and whitetip reef sharks. Cleaning stations attract numerous species of rays — including the occasional manta ray, — and the water column is alive with massive shoals of jacks and snapper. Whale sharks sometimes join the mix from June through November, and there are chance sightings of humpback whales and orcas.
While in Costa Rica, the Nautilus Explore team will host several expedition-style cruises up and down the country's Pacific shore. Flexible itineraries could include diving in the Catalina Islands, meeting the bull sharks of the Bat Islands, exploring the waters of Isla Cabo Blanco and Caño island and visits to intriguing underwater landscapes in the Quepos region.
Adding to the adventure are shore leaves to visit some of Costa Rica's top nature preserves and wilderness areas such as the untamed rainforests of the Osa Peninsula and the pristine settings of Manuel Antonio National Park and the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve. These excursions are hosted by experienced naturalists who share their knowledge of local flora and fauna. For the ultimate Costa Rica land and sea adventure, Nautilus is also offering combination trips that begin with land tours on the Osa Peninsula and diving at Caño Island, followed by a full week of diving at Cocos Island.
Spaces for 2024 trips aboard the Nautilus Explorer are expected to fill quickly. To reserve a space onboard or reserve a 2025 sailing, contact your Caradonna agent for details.