Diving at the Isla Cano National Marine Park was excellent. Known as 'Mini Cocos Island' only 17 miles off the coast it was to substitute for us going to the legendary Cocos Island some 300 miles further off the coast. Although we did not see any hammerhead sharks or find pirate treasure the sea life was spectacular. Permits to visit these National Parks by your own vessel are prohibitively difficult to obtain and you will be asked to leave if you arrive without one.
The panga ride out to Cano was about an hour and we had five divers, three snorkelers, driver, dive master, snork guide and a park ranger along for the ride out. There were several other pangas with divers/snorklers and we can see why they are limiting the number of visitors to 60 per day. Dives are limited to 45 minutes by regulation and you are not allowed to touch anything.
On each of our two dives we saw numerous white tip reef sharks, rays, turtles, moray eels, schools of barracudas, jacks, tuna, the usual tropical fish and even a yellow frog fish and a giant black manta ray with white stripes. There were some thermoclines with the cooler ocean water mixing with the mainland and even a little red tide causing visibility to be less than 60 ft in some places. The sharks were mostly inactive and sitting on the sandy bottom. The coral was unremarkable.
We have not seen this many fish diving since we were last in the Pacific six years ago. Its great to be back although all we seem to be catching over here is skipjack tuna - four more today (all thrown back).
Bahia Drake (named after the Sir Francis Drake who seems to have gotten everywhere) was just too rolley an anchorage for us to spend any more time in so we are now in an only slightly less rolley anchorage at Manuel Antonio National Park some 50 nm further along the coast. Named after a Spanish soldier killed by the fierce Quepos Indians on the beach here in 1519, 1700 acres were declared a Park in 1972. We are anchored tucked behind a headland off the beach where there are no tourists (9d22.97N, 84d08.90'W, 25 ft). The tourist beach is packed, has vendors and even a parasail boat. We see what look like small hotels on the hill further around the bay. Cheeky white faced capuchin monkeys are said to harass the tourists and since we have seen just about all the wildlife we wanted to see in Costa Rica we probably won't go ashore. There is supposed to be an anchoring fee and an entrance fee pp but some boats that came thru here last week could not find anyone ashore to take their
It is still very hot in the afternoons especially at anchor (95F air, 86F sea). Since we've seen quite a lot of what nature has to offer here in Costa Rica our goal now is to meet some cruisers heading north and cool off.