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By: Andrés Benavente
Picture by: Tarn Yost, Patrick Odermatt, Paula Riveros, Andrés Benavente y Diego Mejias.

When we say Bat Islands, we are not talking about Batman’s vacation spot. We are talking about a beautiful group of protected islands at the edge of the Santa Rosa National Park.

Here a singular wind and thermal phenomena that only exists in 2 other places in the American Pacific cause the colder waters to rise from the bottom enriched with many nutrients. As one would expect, an abundance of food and nutrients generates an abundance of life.



Although the islands are home to hundreds of different marine species and offer a fascinating


diving experience, the worldwide fame of these islands is not a product of its great diversity of species but rather to one single inhabitant: 

The portly bull shark.


These impressive creatures are the reason why hundreds of divers from all over the world travel to Costa Rica each year between March and November.



Because of the complexity of the currents around the islands, The Bats are off–limits to inexperienced divers.


However they are a highly desirable destination for the more skilled divers that are seeking something unique and extraordinary.


 The Bull Shark: (Carcharhinus leucas)  

Though they generally don’t measure more than 8 feet in length, the bulls have a very wide body and weigh in the vicinity of 650 pounds. They are easily recognized by their white abdomen, dark gray back and small eyes, but one recognizes a bull in most part due to their great body mass.

They are formidable predators and their diet includes everything:  fish, turtles, distracted birds and even other shark species.  This is the only shark that can live in both fresh and salt water, so it is not unusual to also find them in rivers close to the ocean.

What you will see:  During a 3-tank trip, you will likely see bull sharks and several species of rays including giant mantas and large groups of spotted eagle rays.  It’s also common to see white–tip reef sharks, dolphins, turtles, octopi, colorful crustaceans, large schools of tropical fish and highly unusual groupings of corals. With some luck you can also see the humongous whale shark, the largest of all fish.


Temperature: Between 75 and 86 ºF.

Visibility: Varies from 17 to 65 feet depending on the location.

Depth:  From 59 to 100 feet.

Where is it? : Directly offshore from Santa Rosa National Park. From Playas del Coco it takes approximately 1 ½ to 2 hours by boat.

Requirements:Due to the complexity of the currents, the dive shops require PADI Advanced or higher certification. Those with Open Water certification must demonstrate their skills and experience by diving locally first. Dive shops need a minimum of 4 people to go so it is recommended to book your dive in advance.

Risks: The bull shark does not attack divers unless threatened.  They are also very timid around large groups; therefore, in this type of dive it is important to be very alert about the location of your fellow divers. 

Additionally the currents can pose risks so always stay close to your group.


Summer Salt: 2670 0308 Playas del Coco

Deep Blue diving: 2670 1004 P. del Coco

Diving Safaris: 2672 1260 Playa Hermosa 

Rich Coast Diving: 2670 0176 Playas del Coco y P. Hermosa



Visit our latest issue on virtual paper
…or see previous issues in our virtual kiosk
utopia magazine and travel guide

What else would you like to see in Utopia Magazine? 

Things to do in Costa Rica

Golf in Guanacaste 

Tico Glossary Catalinas island 

Barra Honda Caves

Rincón de la Vieja

Diving in Guanacaste


Marina Papagayo Medical tourism

What does Pura Vida means? 

MAPS Ecology   Culture   

Hotels in Costa Rica Birds

watching guide MarineTurtles 

Playas del Coco NationalParks 

Transportation guide 

Humpback Whales 


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