Thursday, October 30, 2014

Swimming with Sharks

Since I learned that I could live my dream of being the Little Mermaid and breath underwater, I have always been looking forward to getting my PADI certificate for diving. I finally had the chance in Costa Rica. 

After three buses from Moteverde to Playas del Coco I walked into the Summersalt dive shop located only feet from the beach. I had no hostel reservation and had no idea what Playa del Coco was like. I had emailed back and fourth with Summersalt and they were nice enough to give me a discount. For $395 I completed the 4 day course, they helped me find a cheap hostel and even gave me free filtered water and Internet. 

I made a reservation for Villa Flores which use to be Pure Vibes Hostel. They are about two long blocks from the Main Street. I highly recommend them. Although you can still make reservation on Hostelworld for Pure Vibes or $15 it is much cheaper to make reservations when you arrive. I got a deal for 3 days for $35. I met many people who had reserved it online under Pure Vibes, although its still valid when you arrive it much cheaper to negotiate a price when you arrive.

The hostel is very nice, it has a huge pool, with a non-functioning bar (although if you are a woman and friendly with the workers they will give you free drinks anyway). They do not have a restaurant they do have a kitchen at your disposal to make cheap food. 

Playas del Coco is a very touristic small beach town. With many restaurants to choose from it not hard to find some good Costa Rican food, but be sure that prices are not backpacker friendly. I would recommend trying the small shack claiming to be the "Best Playas del Coco Ceviche" on the main road where you can get a cup of fresh ceviche for a 2000 colones ($4). Along the beach you can buy pork and chicken skewers for 1000 colones ($2). Near the beach are two Soda's, which is the name for fast local food. Breakfast before 8am is limited but Resturante Casa del Coco offered a varied menu with meals for under 3500 ($7) including coffee and orange juice. 

On my arrival day I completed the 4 hours of videos. My second day I studied on the beach and took my exam. The third day we spent in the pool training until 1pm. This was the most exhausting day, but the first time you breath underwater you will never forget. The following two days we did four ocean dives. 

On the first day of ocean diving we dove to 12 meters (40ft) we again did some training that we had practiced in the pool, including using your buddies secondary oxygen source and clearing a filled mask. After practicing we swam around with our instructor looking for interesting underwater creatures. Here we had our first encounter with the White Tip Reef Shark. On the second day we again did practice drills including emergency out of air surfacing and taking off our mask underwater. 

After our drills we then explored. It was only ten minutes into our exploration when two huge leopard manta Rey swam past us. It was such an amazing experience, they looked like birds flying by us.

Overall scuba diving is an amazing experience. I am planning to dive again in the Red Sea this December. 

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