20 Things to Know Before Going Scuba Diving in Tamarindo

Scuba diving is one of the main activities that attracts most people to Tamarindo. Anyone can scuba dive as long as they’re over eight years old. Scuba diving requires that you have basic swimming skills. It’s one of the best ways to see marine life in their natural habitat. 

I am a certified scuba diver, and I love visiting areas where I can do some diving. Tamarindo is a Costa Rican town with a reputation for being the best scuba diving spot. Because of this, I traveled to Tamarindo to experience scuba diving. I discuss 20 things you should know before scuba diving in Tamarindo. 

Key Takeaways From This Article

While scuba diving is a favorite watersport, only a few people know where to go scuba diving in Costa Rica. Tamarindo is one of the towns where scuba diving is popular. I’ve highlighted a few important points to keep in mind. 

  • Tamarindo’s tropical climate makes it possible to go scuba diving any time of the year. 
  • You can get a charter flight from San Jose to Tamarindo. 
  • To go scuba diving in the Bat Islands, you must have an advanced or higher open-water certification. 
  • Catalina Island has 13 diving spots you can explore. 

Where is Tamarindo, Costa Rica?

Tamarindo is a seaside town in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. Liberia Airport is an hour away from Tamarindo. However, you can also get a charter flight from San Jose to Tamarindo, which will take only 50 minutes. 

Tamarindo is popular with experienced and non-experienced divers. Its tropical weather, climate, and stunning beaches make it ideal for scuba diving. The best time for diving is during the dry season between November and April. 

However, a more experienced diver might have no problem diving during Tamarindo’s wet season. The wet season begins in May and ends in October. During the rainy months, there can be rainfall for the whole day or two hours in the afternoon. 

Between August and November, the waters are calmer, and there is less wind. Some rare marine animal species are abundant during the rainy season. There is also a 100-foot increase in visibility. 

What Is Scuba Diving?

The full meaning of the acronym scuba is “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.” While some people scuba dive for work, others are recreational divers. Scuba diving is a great way to see and learn more about marine life. 

Scuba divers require an oxygen tank and a regulator to remain longer underwater. To stay underwater for a long time, you need more air. However, ensure you don’t descend too fast or go much deeper than you should. 

It’s always advisable to scuba dive in a group or at least with another person for safety reasons. You can request a dive shop in Tamarindo to recommend another dive, but booking with a tour company would be ideal, especially if you’re inexperienced. 

Snorkeling and scuba diving are different, and I highlight their significant differences. 

Diving Snorkeling
Divers use a mouthpiece to draw in air from a tank that they carry on their back. Through a tube, snorkelers breathe air from the water’s surface.
Divers carry a lot of equipment. You’ll only need a tube.
Divers can go as deep as 14 feet. The deepest a snorkeler can go before running out of air is 3–4 feet.
A diver can see a lot of marine life, explore shipwrecks, and dive at night. You only see the animals near the surface, and they can dive during the day.
Diving requires a lot of planning and preparation. People with certain medical conditions cannot scuba dive. It requires little preparation, and anyone who can swim can snorkel.

Scuba Diving Places in Tamarindo

There are several scuba diving tour companies in Tamarindo. These companies have scuba diving instructors who will accompany you on your expedition. Most instructors have PADI-certified open water certification. 

Catalina Islands

One of the best places for scuba diving in Tamarindo is Catalina Island. Tamarindo is only 15 miles away. Catalina is a group of islands formed by volcanic activity, with 13 diving spots that you can dive and explore, whether you are experienced or not. 

The average visibility in the diving spots is between 30 and 70 feet, depending on the currents and the weather for the day. 

Catalina Island’s most popular marine animals include turtles, eels, octopuses, manta rays, humpback whales, sea stars, and white-tip reef sharks. Schools of grunts, cow nose rays, and jacks are also common in Catalina. 

While diving at one of the spots, my ultimate experience was seeing and swimming along the Pacific Giant Manta. 

Cocos Islands

Also known as Isla del Coco, the island is a few kilometers from Tamarindo. Cocos Island is part of the protected Costa Rican national park system. The only way to reach the island is via an on-board scuba diving tour. 

Coco Island has various marine life species, as highlighted in the table below. 

Marine Life
Sailfish Yellowfin tuna
Giant manta rays Various sharks, including tiger sharks, whale sharks, and hammerhead sharks,.
Different sea turtles include olive ridley, hawksbill, and green turtles. Bottlenose dolphins
Various coral 300+ species of fish
Different crustacean species. Mollusks species


There are different diving spots on Cocos Island. The best place to see hammerhead sharks is Bayo Alcyone. It’s about 82 feet down, and you will be lucky to see the sharks emerge in swarms. Whale, silky, and manta rays. 

The Dirty Rock Site is the most popular diving site on Cocos Island. Many fish gather at this spot, especially the hammerheads, snapper, whale sharks, tuna, and bigeye jacks. 

At 82 feet is the Dos Amigos Grande, which has eagle rays, reef sharks, snappers, and occasionally you might see some tiger sharks. 

Bat Islands

The islands are one and a half hours away from Tamarindo. Bat Islands, also known as Isla Murcielago, is a chain of islands at the tip of Santa Rosa National Park. The islands are under the protection of the Costa Rican government. 

You must have an advanced open-water certification to scuba dive in the Bat Islands. Most of the diving spots at Bat Islands have strong currents, hence the requirement. 

Bat Island is most famous for bull sharks. While you can get lucky and see the bull sharks any time of the year, most sightings are from May to November. The Big Scare site is where you will most likely encounter bull sharks. 

Another popular diving site on Bat Island is Black Rock. The site comprises different fish species. Other marine life includes orcas, wild octopuses, gigantic schools of chere-chere grunt, dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and rays. 

Which equipment do you need for scuba diving? 

Most scuba divers own their equipment and rent a scuba tank from a dive shop. However, you can choose to rent all the diving equipment. You’ll need the following equipment when you want to go scuba diving:. 

  • If you want to make several dive trips, carry one or several scuba tanks. 
  • Put on a dry suit to stay warm if the waters are cold or a wet suit if the waters are warm. 
  • You’ll need a dive float to enter the water from the land. 
  • Have a buoyancy control device, which is usually a vest that inflates. However, if you wear a dry suit that can inflate or deflate, you don’t need the vest. 
  • You’ll also need a gauge or a small, immersible computer to wear as a wristwatch. The gauge measures the amount of air in the tank, while the computer shows you the depth and time. 
  • Wear a mask, a snorkel, and fins. 

Choosing the Right Dive Trainer in Tamarindo

Tamarindo does not require certification for scuba diving. However, if you don’t have a certification, most diving companies will require that you go through a “diving discovery.” It’s a diving test, usually done in a pool, for the company to rate your scuba diving skills.

If you don’t have scuba diving certification, you can choose to undertake a short course. While several companies offer scuba diving classes, you must vet them first. Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for a scuba diving shop: 

  • Ensure that the dive shop has a license and insurance. 
  • Examine the dive shop’s equipment and boats. 
  • Ask around about the trainers’ level of experience and the shop. 
  • Request that friends or the staff at your accommodation give you recommendations. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should not scuba dive?

People with underlying conditions, such as asthma, should not scuba dive. These are health conditions that can interfere with a person’s breathing capacity. 

It is also not advisable to scuba dive if you have undergone recent health changes such as pregnancy, surgery, or severe injuries. 

If a person has mental health disorders, it can be risky for them to scuba dive. These disorders affect the central nervous system, affecting a person’s consciousness and function. 

While scuba diving in Tamarindo, can you see whales?

Yes, the humpback whale is the most common whale. However, the best time is August and September, during their migratory season. It’s essential to keep a safe distance from the whales. 

Tamarindo might not have a lot of whale sightings like Uvita, but there are chance encounters while diving or snorkeling. 


Scuba diving in Tamarindo was a wonderful experience. Whenever I visit any town near Tamarindo, I schedule at least one day for scuba diving. 

Which scuba diving company did you use to dive in Tamarindo? Please share your favorite scuba diving sites and experiences with us.

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Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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