UW Photo Specialty Dive Tours

Cocos Island : WILD!!!

Sept. 10 – 20, 2013 with Andy Sallmon and Allison Vitsky. Organized by Reef & Rainforest

A bigeye jack school hovers over a Cocos seamount

Cocos island, the “pelagic crossroads” of the Pacific, is home to one of the densest populations of marine life anywhere on the planet. It’s a wild place and surely one of the last frontiers that divers can visit. Thousands of sharks, rays, sea turtles, dolphins, huge schools of fish and seabirds are attracted to this lonely outpost in the Eastern Pacific. It’s a stopover point for some and home to others. Breeding, feeding and congregating animals all end up at Cocos at sometime during their respective journeys. Cocos is thick in legend too. It’s said to be home to several caches of hidden (lost) pirate booty. Over the years, many a notorious buccaneer used the island to take safe anchorage, hide from authorities and re-provision their ships with food and water. Some hid their treasure here to avoid being caught. Over the years their stories have ignited the imaginations of treasure hunters from around the world, but no treasure has ever been found. Treasure that is, in the monetary sense! This tiny island offers up its real treasures in the form of exciting and rare marine life encounters.

Wild above and below!

Cocos is wild both above and below. Seasonal downpours support incredible, huge rainforests that cover the island’s interior. Numerous waterfalls plummet hundreds, even thousands, of feet from its

The Cocos Batfish is an endemic species to Cocos island.

rocky cliff edges onto rocky beaches greeting the Pacific tides. The waters surrounding Cocos Island are wild and teaming with huge schools of fish. Jacks, tuna and snapper, thousands strong, hover over many of the island’s dive sites. Most of these sites are offshore pinnacles and seamounts that lie in deeper water. There, in the deep, cool water below the thermoclines, cleaning stations attract schooling sharks and rays. Large, brightly colored King angelfish and a small silvery-yellow butterflyfish, known as the barberfish, attract the attention of pelagic animals. One by one, like a busy car wash on a weekend, hundreds of scalloped hammerhead sharks pass through the cleaners. By staying perfectly still on the bottom, divers are treated to a spectacle few will ever experience as hundreds of hammerheads pass right in front of them. Silky, Galapagos and even whale sharks are also attracted to the seamounts and cleaning stations and it is possible to view them at arms length. This is a paradise for the underwater photographer!




The near-shore islets offer more protected waters. These are great places to see sleepy sea turtles and white-tipped reef sharks, as well as large schools of blue-lined snapper and crimson squirrelfish. There have even been occasional sightings of tiger sharks near some of the islets in the small protected bays. For the photographer, there’s good reason to bring a macro lens as well! Frogfish and Cocos batfish (an endemic species) inhabit the bottom at some of the inshore sites rounding out the cast of characters found in Cocos’ diverse waters.


Getting close and closer again!

Cocos cleaning stations are the best place for big animal encounters

Stealth is the name of the game if you want up close and personal visits by hammerhead sharks. The closest (best) encounters come from lots of patience and good technique. Holding perfectly still, on the bottom, behind a rock is the best way to get that hammerhead to come close. Divers exhaust bubbles can frighten hammerheads away during their approach to a cleaning station. So, it is really important to relax, hold still and breath shallow. I prefer a rebreather when trying to get hammerheads to come close to me. One of the features of this trip will be that 1/2 of the divers will be on rebreathers! Our plan is to dedicate one of the two dive skiffs for rebreathers only and the other for the open circuit folks. We are doing this for the rebreather divers to give them the best chance of close encounters for their efforts, as traveling with a rebreather is a real pain and quite costly. For the open circuit folks, we will give special instructions so that they will also have real close encounters with hammerhead sharks. Everybody wins, but rebreather or not, holding still and staying glued to the bottom are a must!

For Photographers

Whether you are a seasoned pro, or a rank novice photographer you will want images of your trip to Cocos Island. Because we are photographers, we invite everyone to bring a camera. One of the benefits of having group leaders that are also

Your group leaders – Allison and Andy

award winning professional photographers and published photojournalists is that you will have a wealth of photographic knowledge at your disposal. We will give presentations at the beginning, critiques during and a final presentation at the end of the trip. We do this to help you get your best images, because a picture says a thousand words! We also invite everyone to add images for critique nights to help you hone your skills, so that your best images get even better. We promise to be nice on critique night too, so don’t worry! The important thing to us is that you should get the best service that we can offer you, so that you can go home and proudly show all your friends and family your images and what you experienced at Cocos Island. They will be amazed!


Experience, Safety and Success

We’d love to have you join us on this great adventure and share the secrets of Cocos Island with you. if you do, you will undoubtedly experience one-of-a kind marine life action like nowhere else in the

The 115′ Liveaboard Sea Hunter at anchor in Chatham Bay, Cocos Island

world. For this kind of diving we have carefully chosen the best of the best to get us there and back and watch over us while there. The Undersea Hunter Group  has more experience diving Cocos safely then anyone in the business. Sure, close marine life encounters are what we all want, but when it comes to doing it comfortably and safely only the USH Group will do. Our home for this ten-day adventure is the spacious Sea Hunter. The Sea Hunter is a purpose made live aboard with every amenity to make our time at sea as comfortable as possible. Check her out at: http://www.underseahunter.com/b170/general-ship-info.html. The USH divemasters are the best in the business and over the years many have become friends.


Please sign up today!

We invite you to join us and experience this once in a lifetime adventure. Spaces are limited.

Cocos Island

To sign up please contact Reef & Rainforest Dive Travel at: Toll free  800 794 9767 or email Reef & Rainforest at: info@reefrainforest.com

or contact group leader Andy Sallmon at: andy@seait.com

For more information please visit this URL. http://www.reefrainforest.com/pho302/photo-trip-cocos-islands-with-andy-sallmon.html


Trip Price: $5084

Includes: Package includes twin/double cabin accommodation, meals, all diving with Nitrox and services of the crew and photo pro.

Does not include:$245 park fee or $60 transfers or airfare.