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Review

It’s been two years since our last trip to Isla de Coco, so we were excited to begin our adventure. We flew Delta from Pittsburgh to San Jose, Costa Rica via Atlanta. We had great connections and arrived at our hotel, Residencias de Golf, and were drinking Cuba libres (rum & cokes) by 3:00 pm.

Our tour day was jam-packed full of activities. We started with a 7:00 am pickup and were soon eating a “tipical” Costa Rican breakfast of scrambled eggs, buttered bread, salsa flavored rice and beans, and watermelon/strawberry juice. Delish! We had to try the Costa Rican coffee—even I liked it, and I don’t ever drink coffee. Then it was on to the Poas Volcano, with cobalt blue water and several steam vents releasing the inside pressure that is constantly building. Next we journeyed to the Waterfall Park, which is new within the last couple years. We visited the hummingbird center, with dozens of feeders and even more hummingbirds. Unfortunately for us, it began raining, but it didn’t seem to deter the hummingbirds at all, or us for that matter, as the guides had heavy-duty ponchos for us. We sloshed along the well-groomed trails that wind between the five waterfalls, which looked even more impressive than normal as huge amounts of water and mud poured over the edges. Taking pictures was an interesting challenge, with the picture-taker trying to hide the camera under the edge of someone else’s poncho, umbrella-style. In spite of the rain, we had a great time, although most of us were soaked up to mid-thigh; the smart ones had on shorts and sandals.

 It was now time to take a lunch break and dry off a little before the next part of the tour. The buffet had beans and rice, of course, plus many other meats, fish, and vegetables, and more great Costa Rican coffee. Yum! While we were eating, the rain stopped, so we were able to enjoy the butterfly enclosure to the fullest, as the butterflies began coming out of hiding and flitting about. When the caretakers spot a cocoon attached to one of the native plants, they take it to another room where all the cocoons are hung from a rack. We even got to see a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon!

 Finally it was on to a coffee farm, where we were given a quick run-through of the life of a coffee bean, as well as given free samples. We arrived back at the hotel around 5 PM. Jeff was a great guide, a biologist chock full of information and flexible enough to schedule things around the rain.

 The next morning, staff from the Sea Hunter picked us up and we were on our way to the Puntarenas dock. En route we stopped at a restaurant/souvenir shop for an excellent and inexpensive buffet meal--more rice and beans, of course, and excellent coffee. The minute everyone was aboard the Sea Hunter, the boat lifted anchor and we were on our way to Cocos Island. After unpacking we enjoyed a beautiful sunset, one of the few of the trip. It was, after all, the rainy season, the best time to see large creatures at Cocos.

 A day and a half later we arrived at Cocos around 10 pm. The dark outline of the island loomed over us as the boat tied up to a mooring buoy. Off we went to bed, wondering what the next seven days of diving would bring.

 The daily routine is still the same--tasty meals, snacks after dives, three dives/day plus optional night dive before dinner, and nine divers/panga--what changes is the variety of life one sees. Although we did not see the large numbers of hammerheads that we saw the last two trips, we still saw dozens and we had time to look at the huge variety of smaller critters. At Silverado, we saw only one silvertip shark, but there were so many other neat things to hunt for that I really didn’t care. We had a wonderful encounter with a manta ray and following mobula; they circled us more than once! And the eagle rays—we got up close and personal with many, including a troop of 16-20—what an experience—and of course the schooling jacks and marbled rays were still there. We also saw several turtles, and one of the highlights of the trip was the sailfish that came over while we were hanging on the anchor line. He didn’t just take a quick glance, either, but came in for a close look! Galapagos, silky, and oceanic black tip sharks were more abundant this trip, and the night dives were wild, with dozens of white-tip sharks continually on the prowl, looking for dinner. No dangling fingers allowed!

 This was an outstanding, five-star trip by Caribbean standards; by Cocos standards, it was really good—not as many hammers, but other things we don’t normally see. This was the last week before the Sea Hunter was scheduled for maintenance, but you would never know it looking around. Accommodations, food, and crew were great. Yes, we’ll be going back!