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© copyright by Werner Thiele

© copyright by Juan Manuel
© copyright by Werner Thiele
The view at from the top of Cerro Yglesias is not one often seen by human eyes.

To get there requires a 4-5 hour uphill hike beginning at 7am and ending between 3-5pm. Attempting this trail requires perfect weather conditions – if the path is too wet, it becomes treacherous. This hike also demands plenty of advanced planning, as park rules require special permission and a designated guide that is not always available. Lastly, it requires hikers to opt out of a full day of diving, which not is not something divers are often willing to do.

As measured by ICE circa 1990, the top of the mountain is 575m/1900ft above sea level (although the sign says 634m/2090ft). Despite the disparity in elevation, many have compared it in terms of difficulty to Chirripo – Costa Rica’s highest peak at 3,820m/12,500ft. Those who reach the top of Cerro Yglesias are rewarded with an utterly magical landscape. The forest looks like it was plucked directly from the movie Avatar.

Eleven people in our group made it to the top, and the rest of the week we spent exploring Cocos’ legendary seamounts underwater. Our trip was led by Austrian diver and underwater photographer Werner Thiele. Day 1 the cleaning stations at Manuelita were a bit calm at first, but we had lots of life out in the blue – schools of bigeye jacks and mullet snappers, yellowfin tunas, hammerheads and blacktrips. Most of the hammerheads congregated at the Coral Garden, as the current was coming in from that direction, and a sea turtle swam languidly through the channel.

© copyright by Werner Thiele

© copyright by Werner Thiele
© copyright by Werner Thiele
Day 2 we had planned to dive Submerged Rock, but due to strong currents switched the plan to Dirty Rock at the last minute. This was the best possible decision, and at Dirty Rock we swam with a school of 50+ hammerheads along with jacks, black tunas and incredible amounts of fish. Later in the week, the marble rays were in full-on mating mode! They were everywhere and coming extremely close to us.

Punta Maria keeps throwing curve balls – when we enter the water there, we know that absolutely anything is possible. On one dive we saw Galapagos sharks, hammerheads and a blacktip coming in – then at the end a curious dolphin hunting a ball of black tuna appeared. The dolphin abandoned the tuna in favor of checking us out, making clear eye contact with each diver in our group before vanishing into the blue. It was one of those truly special moments in nature that we’ll never forget.

Small Dos Amigos was another highlight this week, and we saw a wide variety of marine life there like eagle rays ,Galapagos, hammerheads, blacktips, whitetips and wahoos. The cleaning stations at Alcyone were active, and once the way up we found ourselves surrounded by a magical school of mullet snappers. On Day 7, the cleaning stations at Manuelita were quiet so we drifted out into the blue. There we were surprised by a big school of hammerheads followed by 4 dolphins, a silky shark and yellowfin tuna! Dirty Rock maintained similar conditions, with the best activity out in the blue. On our last day at Cocos a 12-ft tiger shark appeared out of nowhere – which was unexpected because for whatever reason Dirty Rock is mostly reserved for hammerheads while the tigers usually prefer Manuelita. We all had plenty of adventures to talk about on our way back to mainland – another successful journey to Cocos Island!

© copyright by Juan Manuel Camargo

Dive Conditions
Visibility   55 ft / 17 m
Water Temp.   78°F / 26°C
to Cocos Island  
to Puntarenas  

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