Snorkeling or Diving at the Catalina Islands, Guanacaste Pacific Coast

Spot giant manta and devil rays, sea turtles, parrotfish, and moray eels on a snorkeling trip to Catalina Islands

Overview

Discover an underwater world on this half-day snorkeling tour off the Catalina Islands! From a local dive shop in Playa Flamingo, you'll take off on a diving boat for a 40-minute ride to a group of volcanic islands and rock formations that rise above the ocean's surface in front of Flamingo Bay. Plunge below the surface of the indigo waters to find an undersea menagerie of exotic wildlife congregating around colorful coral reefs. You'll see quickly why this is a world-famous diving location! You might spot giant manta and devil rays, sea turtles, parrotfish, moray eels, and much more. In the right season, you can even sometimes hear humpback whales singing.

Highlights

  • Enjoy a boat ride to a group of volcanic islands
  • Snorkel off the boat around colorful coral reefs
  • Spot giant manta rays, sea turtles, parrotfish, and more

Know before you go

Duration
5 hours
Recommended for
5 years old & up
Group
Small group
Food & Drink
Fresh fruit, cookies and juice

What you'll do

Wake up early this morning. After a pick-up at your accommodations, you'll transfer to a dive shop in Playa Flamingo, where you'll get outfitted with gear and hear an overview of the day's activities.

Board a boat for a 40-minute ride to the Catalina Islands. You'll stop at two different sites, with about 40 minutes to spend at each. All year around you will be able to see pufferfish, parrotfish, and schools of jacks.  During the dry season (December to April) this is also the feeding ground for giant manta rays, where you can encounter ray as big as 20 feet wide. 

After several hours of boating and snorkeling, you'll head back to the dive shop, then transfer back to your accommodations.

Start times

  • Daily
    7:00 am

What's included

  • Bilingual guide
  • Transportation
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Fruit juice
  • Snorkel gear

Traveler reviews

9 total ratings, 7 with reviews
3.7 out of 5
Feature ratings
Quality of Experience
3.4
Guides, Drivers and Staff
3.9
Transport
3.7
Mandy
Mandy F.
Centreville, MD | Reviewed on Jan 22, 2024
This was a very cool experience. The staff was very friendly. They pointed out wildlife on the way. We saw turtles mating on the way out to Catalina Island. we didn’t have much luck at our first two spots because of low visibility. On our third spot, we saw tons of fish: huge snapper, starfish, puffer fish, angel fish, parrot fish, a white tipped reef shark and other schools of fish. Andreas was so knowledgeable. He pointed out all types of fish and told us a little about them. They served... Read more

This was a very cool experience. The staff was very friendly. They pointed out wildlife on the way. We saw turtles mating on the way out to Catalina Island. we didn’t have much luck at our first two spots because of low visibility. On our third spot, we saw tons of fish: huge snapper, starfish, puffer fish, angel fish, parrot fish, a white tipped reef shark and other schools of fish. Andreas was so knowledgeable. He pointed out all types of fish and told us a little about them.

They served cantaloupe and pineapple and they had packaged crackers and cookies. They also had water and iced tea. We were pretty hungry when we got back at 12.

Tips for future travelers

Take Dramamine or wear wristbands if you’re prone to sea sickness. There was a gentleman on the boat that got sick.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Andreas was so great! Very friendly and knowledgeable. Easy to talk to.
Transport
Our Italian drivers was fun! He was relaxed and good spirited. Living pura vida:)
J
Jason C.
San Carlos, CA | Reviewed on Sep 10, 2023
They are not joking when they say you might see giant Manta Rays!! The Manta Rays were 15 ft across. I wasn't expecting it, since we didn't come in the peak season for seeing them, but was spectacular. Read more

They are not joking when they say you might see giant Manta Rays!! The Manta Rays were 15 ft across. I wasn't expecting it, since we didn't come in the peak season for seeing them, but was spectacular.

Tips for future travelers

They run this trip with both snorkelers and divers together. So the boat has to driver between the two groupss. Sso I would not recommend this for a new snorkeler. There were always two guides who stayed with our snorkeling group, but at one point my younger son wanted out of the water, and we had to wait 10 minutes or so till the boat came back. Not a huge deal, but definitely not for a newbie.

Quality of Experience
The guides were friendly. I understand it's more cost effective to run both the diving and snorkeling together, but I think sseprateing the two groupss will make for a better experience.
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Great guides!
Transport
Wanda
Wanda H.
Lake Elsinore, CA | Reviewed on May 28, 2023
This was billed as snorkling but really was a scuba trip that catered mostly to the scuba divers. The snorklers felt unimportant. There was no instruction on using the equipment. Read more

This was billed as snorkling but really was a scuba trip that catered mostly to the scuba divers. The snorklers felt unimportant. There was no instruction on using the equipment.

Quality of Experience
This is the fault of the tour but the water was extremely choppy and not clear at all. I sat out the 2nd snorkle due to the water choppiness.
Guides, Drivers and Staff
More attention to the snorklers. My tube was faulty and the guy in the water with us didnt understand and kept trying to adjust the mask.
Transport
P
PAULA M.
Derry Village, NH | Reviewed on Apr 08, 2023
I felt like an outsider on this trip. We were not really greeted at the dive shop, we were not offered wetsuits like other guests (not that I wanted one, but still, it's the principal). It seems like the guides on the boat were more concerned with those going scuba diving than those going snorkeling. Once in the water, the snorkeling guides did not do much as far as guiding. It would have been nice to have some idea of what kind of fish we were seeing as we swam. Plus, a lot of the other... Read more

I felt like an outsider on this trip. We were not really greeted at the dive shop, we were not offered wetsuits like other guests (not that I wanted one, but still, it's the principal). It seems like the guides on the boat were more concerned with those going scuba diving than those going snorkeling. Once in the water, the snorkeling guides did not do much as far as guiding. It would have been nice to have some idea of what kind of fish we were seeing as we swam. Plus, a lot of the other swimmers were oblivious to what was going on around them. I had adults swim into me multiple times. It would have been more understandable if it were a child, but it was adults! The second time we were in the water, a girl was stung by a jellyfish and wanted to return to the boat. The guides pushed the group out into deeper water, away from the jellyfish, but we were just waiting in the water for the boat to come back around to pick us up. They had no way to signal the boat for the girl who had been stung.

Quality of Experience
I loved snorkeling, but the guides could have offered more
Guides, Drivers and Staff
We had no insight as to what fish we were seeing
Spencer
Spencer G.
East Palo Alto, CA | Reviewed on Apr 08, 2023
José and the whole crew were great - extremely helpful and gregarious. But, there just wasn't that much to see; the water wasn't that clear, and apart from some reef fish nothing much showed itself. They definitely know what they're doing, so I'm confident they picked the best spot, and the equipment and everything else was great - so my guess is that the conditions around Tamarindo just aren't that great in general. If you're dying to go snorkeling, by all means go with this group; but if... Read more

José and the whole crew were great - extremely helpful and gregarious. But, there just wasn't that much to see; the water wasn't that clear, and apart from some reef fish nothing much showed itself. They definitely know what they're doing, so I'm confident they picked the best spot, and the equipment and everything else was great - so my guess is that the conditions around Tamarindo just aren't that great in general. If you're dying to go snorkeling, by all means go with this group; but if you've snorkeled elsewhere then maybe consider other activities around Tamarindo (of which there are many).

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
A
Alyssa F.
Mundelein, IL | Reviewed on Apr 04, 2023
As I mentioned in our full review, we probably could have skipped this experience. The winds were very high, making the water conditions difficult. Life jackets were not required, and a family got into the water, realized they were not strong enough swimmers, and the boat had already drifted away. We had to help call for attention to them and get lifejackets and assistance. The water temperature was cold, they offered us wetsuits. I did not mind the temperature as much as the jellyfish.... Read more

As I mentioned in our full review, we probably could have skipped this experience. The winds were very high, making the water conditions difficult. Life jackets were not required, and a family got into the water, realized they were not strong enough swimmers, and the boat had already drifted away. We had to help call for attention to them and get lifejackets and assistance. The water temperature was cold, they offered us wetsuits. I did not mind the temperature as much as the jellyfish. Thousands, unavoidable. I would have taken a wetsuit for extra protection had I known. The sting was not unbearable, but not pleasant. I was not the only one to get stung. Also there was not much to be seen, a few pufferfish.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Did not offer much about them - if they were from costa rica, how much experience they had. More interested in interacting amongst themselves.
Transport
K
Kristy P.
Canada | Reviewed on Mar 27, 2023
Fantastic guides. Made us feel comfortable even though we are not great swimmers. We saw tropical schools of fish, manta rays, sharks, puffer fish and more! Read more

Fantastic guides. Made us feel comfortable even though we are not great swimmers. We saw tropical schools of fish, manta rays, sharks, puffer fish and more!

Tips for future travelers

Bring a go pro if you like!

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport

Itineraries with Snorkeling or Diving at the Catalina Islands

Volcanoes, Cloud Forests & the Pacific Coast - 13 Days

This 13-day itinerary is perfect for travelers who like to combine their mountain adventures with a bit of a beach holiday. After arriving at the airport in Liberia, you'll head to Rincón de la Vieja to explore the nature surrounding one of the country's most active volcanoes. Then travel deeper inland to spend a few days crossing suspension bridges, ziplining over trees, and hiking through the jungles of La Fortuna and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. You'll end your trip by returning to Guanacaste for some relaxation on the beaches of Papagayo.

Coast to Coast: Beach and Cloud Forest Adventure - 9 Days

Experience both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Costa Rica — and all that's in between — on this 9-day adventure. Starting in the bustling capital of San Jose, you'll make your way to Tortuguero National Park, where you'll watch sea turtles hatch on the beach. Then head inland to the Monteverde Cloud Forest for incredible wildlife and rainforest trails. After two nights in the heart of the jungle, you'll travel to the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Papagayo. Here you'll go snorkeling and surfing, and end your journey with a spectacular sunset cruise around the bay.