Welcome to Aurora Expeditions’ Costa Rica and the Panama Canal voyage.
Immerse yourself in the remarkable coastlines of Costa Rica and Panama. Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse regions on earth. Discover tropical rainforests teeming with outstanding variety of wildlife, dazzling birdlife and flamboyant flora. In Panama, discover pristine coral reefs and learn the remarkable history of the Panama Canal on a guaranteed daylight crossing from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea.
• Enjoy hikes among some of the most biodiverse rainforests on earth, a chance to encounter wildlife including sloths, howler, spider, capuchin and squirrel monkeys
• Enjoy a guaranteed daylight crossing of the Panama Canal
• Coiba National Park in Panama offers superb marine and terrestrial wildlife viewing opportunities, and is UNESCO World Heritage site
• Keep your eyes and ears tuned for the regal Scarlet Macaws at Curú National Wildlife Refuge
In true expedition style we encourage exploration and adventure, offering flexibility in challenging environments in a way that puts you among the action to see and do as much as possible. This itinerary is only a guide and subject to change due to ice and weather conditions.
Day 1 Arrive San Jose
Having made your way to San Jose, you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to our group hotel. Please visit the Aurora Expeditions hospitality desk to collect your luggage cabin tags and to speak with our ground operations team, who may have information to share with you about pre-embarkation or to provide you with information about where to dine, withdraw cash or purchase last minute items from a local pharmacy or supermarket.
Enjoy free time, and in the evening, dine at your leisure (dinner not included).
Accommodation: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cariari (or similar)
Day 2 Embarkation Day
This morning, your luggage will be collected from the hotel and transferred directly to the port for sanitisation, clearance and delivered to your cabin ahead of your arrival on board. There is time to settle into your cabin before attending important safety briefings. Enjoy the thrill of departure as we ‘throw the lines’ and set sail for an exciting tropical adventure.
Day 3 Curú National Wildlife Refuge
Curú National Wildlife Refuge is a privately-owned nature reserve offering visitors outstanding eco-tourism experiences. The refuge is the first privately-owned refuge in Costa Rica, encompassing more than 3,700 acres of tropical forests, mangroves, and well-marked paths. 17 hiking trails wind through the varied terrain within the reserve, where you may see white-tail deer, armadillos and iguanas. Various monkey species are prolific within refuge including native capuchin, spider, and howler monkeys. Located on the southern Nicoya Peninsula of north-western Costa Rica, the refuge is brimming with wildlife and hosts one of the most beautiful beaches and protected bays on the Nicoya Peninsula, a great place to enjoy water activities.
Day 4 Manuel Antonio National Park
Boasting over 100 species of mammals, 184 species of birds and an impressive variety flora, Manuel Antonio National Park understandably attracts wildlife enthusiasts from all over the world. Costa Rica’s star attractions - two and three toed sloths, as well as white-faced monkeys, toucans, agoutis, armadillos and coatis are a few of the exciting animals that you may encounter within the park. We explore the park in the cool, early hours of the morning before returning to the vessel for lunch. In the afternoon, you have the option to explore Quepos town or enjoy some water activities.
Day 5 Rio Claro Wildlife Refuge
The untamed Osa Peninsula is considered by National Geographic to be ‘one of the most biologically intense places on earth’. We plan to hike the trails at Rio Claro Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary that encompasses 500 hectares of tropical rainforests, making it one of the most important natural preserves in Central America. Rio Claro is one of the last refuges for pumas, ocelot, jaguarundis, tapirs, white-lipped peccaries and a host of other rainforest animals. The high plateau forests, with trees towering over 43 m (140 ft), supports hundreds of species of ferns, bromeliads and orchids, and creates a biological corridor between palm swamps and mangroves. It is an extension of Corcovado National Park, the country's largest and one of the most remote parks in Costa Rica.
Day 6 Gulfo Dulce
Golfo Dulce, or Sweet Gulf, is a large bay that hugs pristine beaches, rivers and tall evergreen forests - a protected area known as the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve. As one of the wettest places on Earth with over 5,000 millimetres (200 inches) of rainfall per year, the Golfo Dulce Forest Reserve features some of the world’s tallest trees.
The warm tropical waters in the gulf are a great place to enjoy aquatic activities, where spinner dolphins are often seen frolicking in the bay. There are ancient coral reefs to explore, where you can see enormous coral gardens and the creatures that inhabit them. On land, there are more pristine rainforest trails for you to explore, where you can marvel at the extraordinary flora and fauna that contributes to Costa Rica’s biodiversity.
By Zodiac, we shuttle ashore to Saladero Ecolodge and explore the gardens and walking trails filled with flowering plants. Keep a watch for birds including toucans, scarlet macaw, caracara and woodpeckers.
In Golfo Dulce we exit Costa Rica and continue our journey as we sail to Panama.
Days 7-8 Coiba National Park, Panama
We continue to Coiba Island, a National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage site, located off the southwest coast of Panama. The national park includes the main island of Coiba and 38 smaller islands in the surrounding marine areas within the Gulf of Chiriquí. Protected from the cold winds and the effects of El Niño, the Pacific tropical forest if Coiba Island features exceptionally high levels of endemic mammals, birds and plants. It is the last refuge for a number of threatened animals including the crested eagle.
On Coiba Island, we spend the morning in the area of Granito de Oro islet, a unique place that allows snorkellers to encounter a diversity and volume of marine life that is usually reserved for scuba divers. This is one of the world’s most sought-after diving destinations. The local ranger will provide guidance on the optimal places where we can enjoy water activities.
The following morning, we plan to land at Punta Clara, which served as a penal colony from 1919 to 1996, where Panama’s most notorious criminals and political prisoners were incarcerated. At the peak of its operations, the prison housed up to approximately 3,000 inmates in about 30 camps spread around the islands. You can visit the dilapidated penitentiary buildings or walk along the beach looking for scarlet macaws, yellow caracara and various seabirds. Back on board, enjoy lunch as we set towards the Pearl Islands.
Day 9 Pearl Islands
After a morning at sea, we reach The Pearl Islands of Panama, an archipelago located in the North Pacific Ocean in the Gulf of Panama, covering around 250 small islands. The Spanish Conquistadors discovered the islands in 1503 and gave the Islands its name due to the great amounts of pearls found on them. The Pearl Islands were originally named by the Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa due to the bountiful pearls that were harvested off the islands’ shores. The Pearl Islands are most famous for their spectacular and tranquil white sand beaches, untouched forests, and colourful coral reefs offshore – ideal for diving, snorkelling and paddling.
We plan to visit Bartolome Island to enjoy some paddle boarding, paddling in kayaks and snorkelling in the warm, turquoise waters. We might also visit nearby Pacheca and Pachequilla islands to enjoy some birdwatching.
Day 10 Panama City
Three million years ago, the Isthmus of Panama emerged from the sea and changed the world forever. It divided an ocean and joined two continents together, triggering one of the most important natural evolution events in the history of the world. Today, this narrow land bridge in Central America is home to more species of birds and trees than the whole of North America. Panama is of course world-famous for its 77 km (48 mi) canal that connects the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean.
Panama’s history has been formed by a rich pre-Columbian era for more than 12,000 years. Early cultures in Panama were the Monagrillo, the Cueva and the Conte, particularly famous for their pottery, which was the first in the Americas. The first European claiming the territory of today’s Panama was Rodrigo de Bastidas, coming from Colombia’s Atlantic coast in 1501. In 1513 Vasco Nuñez de Balboa became the first Spaniard to see the Pacific Ocean from the top of a hill. Four days later he and his men stood at the shores of the Pacific Ocean. In 1519, Panama City was founded and became an important hub for seized goods making its way from Peru to Spain.
We visit Gatun Lake, a large artificial lake with a unique ecosystem that forms a major part of the Panama Canal, carrying ships for 33 km (20 miles) on their transit across the Isthmus of Panama. At the time it was created, Gatun Lake was the largest artificial lake in the world. The vegetation at Gatun Lake offers ideal habitats for a large number of bird species.
The excursion starts with boat trip that heads north on the canal for 25 minutes where we may get close to some of the larger ships that transit the canal daily. Enjoy a leisurely cruise along the forested banks of Gatun Lake looking for wildlife such as capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, three-toed sloth, various kinds of toucans and other bird life. This is a place to observe the raw regenerative power of the forest as it struggles to claim what was once wild.
In the afternoon, we visit an Emberá village, an indigenous tribe who have inhabited this region for centuries. There are about 33,000 Emberá living in the Darién, Panama, and 50,000 in Colombia. On our visit to one of the Emberá villages near Panama City, you will be warmly welcomed by the local villagers and enjoy a presentation to learn about their history, culture and way of life. On a guided walk through their village, you will meet more villagers who may show you inside their home, sample local snacks and learn about their medicinal plants. The Emberá are renowned for their exquisite handmade jewellery and woven handicrafts, and you will have the chance to appreciate and to purchase their work.
Later in the day, we may have the chance to stop at the Miraflores Visitor Centre overlooking the Miraflores lock of the Panama Canal. Four exhibition halls portray the canal's history and biodiversity, while three terraces and observation decks are ideal places for observing the canal's operation and the passage of ships through the locks.
Day 11 Daylight Crossing of the Panama Canal
Crossing the Panama Canal will surely be a highlight for many travellers. Each year, over a million people visit the canal to witness this engineering marvel at work. Starting in the Pacific Ocean, you will be able to admire the Bay of Panama and Panama City’s splendid skyline before passing under the ‘Bridge of the Americas’. The vessel will then transit through the first set of locks, the Miraflores Locks, where it will be lifted 16 metres (52 foot) in two distinct steps. Next, your ship will enter Miraflores Lake, which is a small artificial body of fresh water that separates Pedro Miguel Locks from Miraflores Locks.
The vessel will transit through Pedro Miguel Locks, which is one of the two sets of locks on the Pacific side, and here the vessel is lifted 9 metres (29 foot) in one step. After exiting Pedro Miguel locks, your boat will travel through the Gaillard Cut, where the Chagres River flows into the canal. The Gaillard Cut (also known as Culebra Cut because its curves resemble a snake) is one of the main points of interest for visitors because it was carved through the Continental Divide and this section of the canal is full of history and geological value.
As you transit the cut you will see dredging occurring to control the sediments entering the canal because of the terrain’s susceptibility to landslides. Sail through Gatun Lake, which was formed by erecting the Gatun Dam across the Chagres River, and during your transit through the lake, you will pass the Smithsonian Research Station at Barro Colorado. The last of the three locks is the Gatun Locks, the only set of locks in the Atlantic sector of the canal. At Gatun Locks, the vessel will be lowered a total of 26 (85 foot) metres in three distinct chambers.
The complete crossing from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean takes approximately 10 hours, a journey that once took almost two weeks to complete, when vessels were forced to sail around the notoriously rough seas around Cape Horn at the bottom of South America to reach the Pacific coast.
This evening, celebrate a memorable journey at Captain’s Farewell reception.
Day 12 Disembark Colon, transfer to Panama City
Disembark in Colon, on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal, where you'll farewell your expedition team before transferring to the airport in Panama City for your onward journey.
Note: At the conclusion of the voyage, we do not recommend booking flights departing Panama City prior to 2.00 pm.
- All transfers as mentioned in the itinerary.
- One night’s hotel accommodation in San Jose, including breakfast, on Day 1.
- On-board accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service.
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage.
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner.
- Captain’s Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages.
- All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises.
- Educational lectures and guiding services from Expedition Team.
- Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consultation).
- Comprehensive pre-departure information.
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees.
- International or domestic flights – unless specified in the itinerary.
- Transfers – unless specified in the itinerary.
- Airport arrival or departure taxes.
- Passport, visa, reciprocity and vaccination fees and charges.
- Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges.
- Hotel accommodation and meals unless specified in the itinerary.
- Optional excursions and optional activity surcharges.
- Optional activity surcharges.
- All items of a personal nature, including but not limited to alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), gratuities, laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, wi-fi, email or phone charges.
Note: A $15 USD per person per day gratuity for the crew is automatically added to your onboard account. It is at your discretion if you would like to remove the tip (or adjust the amount) when you settle your bill. It is not necessary to tip the expedition team members. This gratuity amount is included for suites as part of their ‘Suite Benefits’.
Lectures on wildlife, our environment, history and destinations
Near shore cruises
Whale and mammal spotting
From AUD $900.00/pp
Scuba Diving Explore mysterious underwater worlds in Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond. Aurora Expeditions has been operating scuba diving holidays …
Explore mysterious underwater worlds in Antarctica, the Arctic and beyond.
Aurora Expeditions has been operating scuba diving holidays in the polar regions for more than 20 years. In fact, we were the first expedition cruise operators in the world to offer this ultimate polar adventure!
Regardless of the destination, our focus is to encounter remarkable wildlife and witness spectacular marine ecosystems. The select group of daring adventurers who choose this unique activity program will have unbeatable experiences and stories to share and cherish.
Whether you choose to dive in the freezing waters of Antarctica or the Arctic, in underwater worlds full of grounded icebergs and rare creatures, the experience is guaranteed to stir your soul. In temperate and tropical destinations we visit, you can explore remarkable kelp forests and swim among dugong, sea turtles and whale sharks. Marvel at brightly coloured coral, uncover historic shipwrecks or perhaps even swim between two continents – the opportunities for adventure are endless.
You can rest assured that you and your small group of divers will be in safe hands with an experienced Divemaster, who will keep a close eye on the group from a Zodiac and help you maximise your experience scuba diving in some of the wildest places on Earth.
‘Getting out amongst it’ is our philosophy, and that is exactly what we do. Weather permitting, you will dive while other expeditioners are doing their activities – kayaking, snorkelling, or exploring ashore. Our experienced dive guides are skilled at finding the best opportunities to dive, while taking into account the ever-changing weather and sea ice conditions. We aim to offer you the best quality dive experience while maintaining the highest safety standards.
Antarctic and Arctic diving reveals a world of ice, where you will see glaciers, gigantic icebergs and a unique blend of marine, making for a very special experience. With numerous diving opportunities along your voyage, no two days will be alike – a truly inspiring and unforgettable experience awaits.
We try to get you off the ship to dive up to two times per day (except for sea days). However, we are always at the mercy of the weather and changes to the voyage itinerary to take advantage of unique opportunities like wildlife sightings. Embracing the unexpected is part of the excitement of expedition-style travel!
Scuba diving in Antarctica and the Arctic reveals worlds of hidden ice, where you will observe glaciers, gigantic icebergs and fascinating marine life underwater, making for a very special experience.
In polar regions, the dive sites vary from shallow ice diving, diving along a wall or around a grounded iceberg. The maximum depth is 20 metres / 65 feet. The combination of sunlight and the extraordinary formations of ice cause an overwhelming, ever-changing spectre of colours, with a fantastic variety of shades and brilliance. Diving in polar areas offers opportunities to witness spectacular ice formations in addition to interesting marine life.
In a wetsuit or perhaps even a drysuit, you can explore remarkable kelp forests, swim among sonorous whales, uncover historic ship-wrecks and even swim between two continents!
While Iceland is renowned for its dramatic terrestrial landscape, many people don’t know that it offers excellent scuba diving opportunities for those with drysuit diving experience. Here you can dive between tectonic plates, experience hydrogen sulfide bubbles within a geothermal spring, and see a huge variety of marine life in the fjords and ocean.
The United Kingdom is full of diving hotspots and hundreds of shipwrecks that divers come from all over the world to explore.
Embark on a wreck dive, encounter majestic marine wildlife including dugong, sea turtles and whale shark, or marvel at brightly-coloured coral. Discover some of Earth’s most biodiverse marine ecosystems, many of which have been designated as ‘Hope Spots’ by Mission Blue.
When diving in tropical destinations such as Costa Rica and Panama, you will see an incredible array of marine life. Caño Island Biological Reserve boasts some of the best diving spots in the country. Because of the clear see, divers will have visibility of between 10-30 metres / 30-100 feet. In addition to colourful coral gardens, you may find bull and nurse sharks, manta rays, dolphins, sea turtles, and the occasional humpback whale. As for fish, get ready to see damselfish, parrotfish, butterflyfish, porcupine fish, goatfish, goby, and perhaps an octopus.
Our diving activity is not for beginners. Requirements vary slightly depending on the region you are diving in. For polar destinations, you must be at least an Advanced Open Water Diver and Drysuit Specialty certified diver with at least 30 drysuit dives. You are also required to complete a minimum of 10 dives in the 12 months before your trip, with a minimum of 5 of those dives in a drysuit. For temperate and tropical regions, you must be at least an Advanced Open Water Diver with a minimum of 30 logged dives. You are also required to complete a minimum of 6 of those dives within 12 months of your trip.
Before departure you must show an internationally accepted diving certificate, diver’s logbook and a current diving medical (no more than 6 months old) from your doctor confirming that you are in suitable physical health to participate in our diving activity. A divemaster will review your form for suitability and experience before approving your diving spot.
The initial dive will be a ‘check-out’ dive so each diver can check and adjust their weights and equipment. If our divemaster feels that you do not meet the necessary experience, they have the right to exclude you from participating in the dive program. This decision will be made for your own safety and for the safety of the other divers.
Why is so much experience required?
A higher level of diving experience is required for the polar regions because of the remoteness of the location. Diving is no fun if you are cold and uncomfortable. When you are diving in cold water, you consume more air, expend more energy, and can become more fatigued. You may also find it more difficult to perform complex tasks that require manual dexterity in cold water.
We pride ourselves on taking adventurous souls to some of the most wild and remote destinations on earth, which offer endless opportunities for adventure activities like scuba diving. However, at all times safety is our highest priority.
Diving in remote polar areas is not more dangerous than normal scuba diving, but it is more equipment and labour intensive. We don’t have a decompression chamber and offer only basic medical services on board, so cannot accept risky ventures from any of the divers in this activity program.
All dives are conducted using a buddy system of two or three divers. If you are not travelling with a buddy who is diving, we will pair you up with other divers on your expedition. All divers are expected to have enough experience to read their compass, depth gauges and look out for each other in order to have a safe dive.
Before each dive, your Divemaster will brief you about the location, the weather, sea or ice conditions and the procedure of the dive. All divers are required to follow the instructions of the Divemaster and guides at all times. All participants are expected to fully understand and accept the risks involved in polar diving and participate at their own choice.
The Scuba Diving activity is available for an additional surcharge and includes guided excursions and kayaking equipment. Fares for this activity start from US$940, AU$1,300, £770 or €860.
Prices are indicative only and are variable. They are calculated based on the days of voyage, ability to carry out the activity and exchange rates.
Top reasons to choose a Scuba Diving holiday
Earn the ultimate bragging rights for diving where only a select group of daring adventurers have ventured before.
Unforgettable wildlife encounters
Swim with penguins, whales, seals and dolphins and marvel at otherworldly creatures few get to see.
Reach new depths
Gain experience diving in destinations unlike anywhere else on the planet.
Find the best opportunities and get the most out of every dive with the help of our experienced Divemasters.
Forge lifelong friendships with your small group of like-minded adventurers.
Being active every day on your holiday means you don't have to feel guilty about being spoilt by our expert chefs!
Enhance your experience
Add another layer to your once-in-a-lifetime holiday and make the most out of your time in some of the most remote places on earth.
You love it!
Let’s face it – if you have the required experience to participate in our diving activity, it's one of your all-time favourite hobbies!
Aurora Expeditions is delighted to have been named one of the Best Dive Travel Agencies in the world in Scuba Diving Magazine’s 2023 Readers Choice Awards.
We limit our diving groups to a maximum of 6 divers in cold water destinations and 8 divers in warm water destinations. While you are in the water, your guide will be on board the Zodiac keeping a close eye on the group, ready to provide assistance and to give you advice and tips on how to maximise your experience on each of your dives.
You should be 14 or older to participate in our scuba diving program. Please note the minimum age required to complete most Junior Advanced Open Water Diver courses is 12. Drysuit Diver specialty courses require a minimum age of 10.
Aside from days at sea, we plan to dive up to twice per day. However, there are certain factors that are out of our control, including weather conditions and availability of anchorages. Voyage itineraries are only a guideline and safety is always the priority.
Weather can be hard to predict and can vary from day to day. Because of this, we often need to adjust our ‘itineraries’ to take advantage of favourable weather and ice conditions. Our flexible approach means we can alter the itinerary to incorporate wildlife sightings and other one-of-a-kind opportunities. Embracing the unexpected is part of the excitement of expedition-style travel. A flexible approach and a sense of humour will make the voyage more enjoyable for you and your fellow expeditioners.
Exclusive Zodiac cruising will be offered if the conditions for diving are not suitable.
English is the main language used for our dive operation. For safety reasons, you must be proficient in English in order to participate in our scuba diving activity.
In the polar regions, you will encounter marine life seemingly from another planet, such as the giant isopods and salps. Take your time to explore and enjoy an environment few divers have ever experienced. Observe kelp walls, sea snails, spider crabs, sea butterflies, jellyfish, squid, sea squirts, squat lobsters, starfish, krill anemones, peacock worms and countless fish species. In Antarctica you may have the opportunity to dive with penguins, whales and seals, which race fearlessly by, graceful in a way that’s not possible above the surface.
Get lost in kelp forests in temperate regions, or swim with sonorous whales. In tropical regions, marvel at colourful coral gardens frequented by damselfish, parrotfish, butterflyfish, porcupine fish, goatfish, goby and octopus. Delight in swimming with playful dolphins and curious seals as you make your way through the spectacular underwater ecosystems. Keep a lookout for bull and nurse sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, and the occasional humpback whale.
No. Each diving place is for one person only.
While diving is generally an equipment intensive activity, diving in polar regions requires an extensive amount of additional equipment because of the cold weather and water. On board we have two compressors, steel cylinders and lead weights. The cylinders we provide are steel 12.2 litres by Faber, with dual outlet valve, yoke and DIN compatible filled to 220 bar. Lead weights are available in 0.5, 1, 3 and 4 kilograms (1, 2, 6.6 and 9 pounds).
All divers must bring their own personal equipment. This will depend on where you are diving and a detailed list will be shared with you when you express interest in adding this activity to your voyage. We also have a limited number of hire equipment available onboard.
In polar regions, where the ocean water can be as cold as -1˚C/30˚F, a drysuit is the only thing that will keep you dry during a dive. The type of dry suit you use is not important so long as it fits you correctly and you are proficient in using it.
Insulating undergarments will trap air against your body to keep you warm. The colder the water, the more (or thicker) layers of undergarments you will need. We recommend wearing two or three layers, depending on your drysuit. The first layer should be a type of material that helps wick any moisture away from the body, while the second and third layers should be should thicker insulating material, such as fleece, synthetic pile or thinsulate. The one-piece jumpsuit style is the most common and comfortable configuration of dive wear and is available in a variety of thickness depending on your drysuit and the water temperature.
The right accessories will also help you have a more comfortable experience. We recommend a 5-10mm neoprene hood with face and neck seal, regular 5-7mm neoprene semi-dry gloves or mitts, and three-finger mitts over five-finger gloves.
Finally, it is important to bring a warm hat and gloves to wear before and after each dive, and a wind and waterproof spray jacket to keep the cold wind off your drysuit.
Aurora Expeditions is proud to have some of the world’s best dive masters on our staff, so you can rest assured that you are in safe hands. Our guides have dived all over the world and in some of the most remote and challenging locations. Our team of experienced Divemasters has over 20 years’ polar diving experience. YourDivemaster will ensure that you adhere to Standard Safety Diving Practices at all times, provide you with detailed briefings and share best practice procedures to ensure a safe diving experience.
Witness wildlife and scenery unlike any other place on earth. Through crystal clear waters you’ll discover the amazing mobility and
Polar SnorkellingThrough crystal clear waters, you’ll discover the amazing mobility and speed of penguins entering and exiting from the ice, marvel at beautiful sculpted icebergs below the water and witness marine life such as crustaceans, isopods, starfish and nudibranchs!
Temperate SnorkellingDiscover a mysterious kelp forest where timid creatures seek refuge, encounter curious sea otters or if you’re very lucky, hold your breath in the presence of a majestic whale.
Tropical SnorkellingSnorkel among a kaleidoscope of coral reefs brimming with brightly-coloured tropical fish or perhaps swim with curious sea lions.
Our GuidesOur team of experienced guides have over 20 years’ experience and provide snorkellers with detailed briefings and best practice procedures to ensure a safe snorkelling experience.
Group SizePolar snorkelling requires at least 6 snorkellers for the activity to proceed. Please ask our team for numbers at time of booking.
How to BookPlease return the polar snorkelling activity form at the time of booking. Simply inform our Expedition Experts at time of booking that you would like to include the optional snorkelling activity to your expedition. Places are limited.
Embrace the Adventure: Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Costa Rica If you want to try stand-up paddleboarding for the first time, you
Embrace the Adventure: Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Costa Rica
If you want to try stand-up paddleboarding for the first time, you can paddle in protected bays, over coral reefs in warmer waters on our Costa Rica and The Panama Canal expedition. More experienced paddlers can enjoy the larger waves on beaches.
The experience of stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP) in one of the most biologically intense regions of the world both above and under the water is guaranteed to stir your soul. Paddle above vibrant coral reefs, or drift quietly under the backdrop of lush rainforests.
Rather than travelling large distances, our aim is to see as much as possible. We paddle anywhere between 2.5-5 km / 1-2 mi. (2 to 4 hours) per outing, sometimes taking a snack and a cool drink to enjoy on our excursion.
Our group of up to 8 paddlers generally visit the same wildlife sites as our fellow expeditioners. However, the shallow draft of our boards means that we also have the opportunity to access areas that are often not accessible by Zodiacs.
The warm aqua-blue waters are perfect for spotting manta rays, dolphins, turtles and whales. The elements play an important role in any paddle outing so it is important to understand that our paddleboarding time may be affected by the weather that we experience
We offer small, guided, intimate groups a chance to take SUP paddling to the next level. Weather permitting, we will offer daily outings with a support Zodiac. We provide waterproof day packs to carry our cameras and spare clothing to make the most of our excursions above the water and on shore.
Each group of three to eight paddlers generally visit the same wildlife or historic sites as our fellow expeditioners. However, our smaller craft (SUP) and manoeuvrability often means that we also have the opportunity to access areas that are often not accessible by Zodiacs. We will also make time to do some shore landings with the rest of the group.
Our Tropical trips are the perfect time to try stand-up paddleboarding for the first time. We just require you to be active in the outdoors and have an adventurous spirit.
You do not need to be an expert, however, you are required to be able to swim. For beginners, we will paddle in protected bays, over coral reefs in warmer waters on our Costa Rica and Panama Canal expedition. More experienced paddlers can enjoy the larger waves on beaches.
You should be fit enough to paddle for up to two hours at a time to take full advantage of this activity, and climb between moving Zodiacs on the water. Regular exercise is recommended, as the fitter you are the more you will enjoy the experience. The more paddles you can do before the trip, the better (we recommend at least 3 to 4 outings prior to your voyage) if you plan on taking full advantage of this complimentary activity.
In Costa Rica and Panama, April is the end of the dry season. The shoulder season begins in May, bringing increased humidity. Afternoon rain showers are possible in May with temperatures ranging from 26-36 °C (80- 96 °F). Winds are generally light at this time of year.
The water temperature ranges from 27 -29 °C. Surf landings are not likely, but be prepared to paddle in a small swell or wind chop, with winds up to 15 knots. We will not paddle if wind conditions are too strong and there is no sheltered area for paddling.
For our Costa Rica and Panama Canal voyages Stand-up Paddleboarding is a complimentary activity, pre-booking is not required!
Top reasons to choose a Stand-Up Paddleboarding holiday
See wildlife unobtrusively
SUPs are one of the best ways to spot rare wildlife, from curious marine life to diverse birds.
Access intimate bays and coves that bigger crafts can't reach.
Become lifelong friends with your small group of like-minded adventurers.
Have the time of your life exploring some of the wildest places on earth from the water.
- SUP board, leash & paddle
- Neoprene boots
- Safety gear
- A dry bag
- PFD (Life jacket)
The thrill of visiting wild and remote regions on an expedition to Antarctica, Costa Rica and the scattered isles of western
The thrill of visiting wild and remote regions on an expedition to Antarctica, Costa Rica and the scattered isles of western Scotland is elevated when you’re actively immersed in the environment. In our inflatable kayaks, you can paddle safely among brash ice and along rocky shorelines where penguins and fur seals might be sunning themselves.
It’s a unique opportunity to remain fully immersed in your surroundings, at water level in your sturdy kayaks. You might see Adélie penguins darting around you or, perhaps, an Antarctic fur seal slipping off its rock as you glide past. Your experienced guides will look for wonderful opportunities for you to enjoy a paddle, and hopefully push you beyond your comfort zone, safely.
‘Getting out amongst it’ is our philosophy, and that is exactly what we do. When you sign up as a paddler, you have the bonus of enjoying normal landings along with other expeditioners, plus an added paddling excursion.
In a small group of up to six paddlers, you will have a Zodiac dedicated to your group and two guides to look after you and to scout out ideal locations to enjoy a fun paddle.
When we visit the polar regions, the elements play an important role. Our Paddling program is suitable for complete beginners, and we will only offer a paddling excursion in calm conditions. Bring along your adventurous and positive attitude and you will have an unforgettable experience.
Our Paddling Activity is suitable for novices and no prior experience is required to participate. However, you must be able to swim independently for up to 25 metres and be confident in the water.
You must be able to walk on loose, uneven surfaces such as gravel or pebble beaches. You must also be able to get into your inflatable kayak at knee level. Although our Paddling activity requires no prior experience to participate, you are more likely to enjoy the experience more if you are mildly fit and undertake some regular gentle exercise at home, such as walking.
During summer the air temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula, Greenland and Spitsbergen are generally above freezing but can range from -4°C to +5°C / 24.8°F to 41°F. The water temperature in the polar regions is close to freezing and winds sweep off the glaciers, making paddling a chilling experience. In South Georgia, there are stronger winds and swells than in Antarctica. Scotland, Iceland, Norwegian coasts are warmer with water temperatures of around 12 °C/ 53.6°F.
The northern waters are warmer than the polar regions but water temperatures of around 12 °C/ 53.6°F mean you may opt to wear your paddle jacket on a warm, sunny day or our dry suits on a cool day. Surf landings are not likely, but you must be capable of paddling in a small swell or wind chop, with winds up to 20 knots. With that being said, we will not paddle if wind conditions are too strong and there is no sheltered area for paddling.
In Costa Rica and Panama, April is the end of the dry season. The shoulder season begins in May, bringing increased humidity. Afternoon rain showers are possible in May with temperatures ranging from 26-36 °C (80- 96 °F). Winds are generally light at this time of year. The water temperature ranges from 27 -29 °C. Surf landings are not likely, but be prepared to paddle in a small swell or wind chop, with winds up to 15 knots. Again, we will not paddle if wind conditions are too strong and there is no sheltered area for paddling.
The Paddling activity is available for an additional surcharge and includes guided excursions and paddling equipment. Fares for this activity are US$640 for all applicable Antarctica voyages, or for Wild Scotland voyage: US$580, AU$800, £440 or €250.
Prices are indicative only and are variable. They are calculated based on the days of voyage, ability to carry out the activity and exchange rates.
Yes, you will be supplied with a drybag for extra clothing, binoculars and anything that needs to be kept dry. You should also carry a water bottle. You are also welcome to bring along your own 5-10 litre drybag for personal items.
Paddlers should be aged 14 or over.
Yes, but we highly recommend a waterproof camera or phone, or a good quality waterproof case. Pelican cases are highly recommended for good cameras. A 1300 or 1400 model Pelican case is well suited for this activity if your camera and lens combination fit. However, you may be able to strap a larger case onto the back deck of the kayak.
Our paddling activity is generally done in combination with a shore landing and we paddle close to shore. Your group will have a dedicated safety Zodiac, and your guide will be in constant radio contact with our ship captain and expedition leader if additional support is required.
The inflatable kayaks are made of a soft multi layer pvc plastic and are easily paddled through small patches of brash ice. We manoeuvre around the larger ice chunks and floes.
Travel insurance including emergency evacuation coverage, is mandatory on all Aurora Expeditions voyages. You will need to ensure that your insurance policy covers you for your activity and any related equipment. An additional policy or premium
may be required to ensure you have adequate coverage. Please contact us if you need assistance with your insurance policy.
No. Each paddling place is for one person only. Passengers are unable to ‘share’ a kayaking place as the kayaks and drysuits are individually issued and fitted for the duration of the voyage.
It is your choice how often you want to paddle. If you decide to spend more time during a landing to explore ashore, you just need to let your guide know in advance. However, we do encourage you to get out as much as you can! Please note that the activity surcharge is non-refundable and we are unable to assist you if you change your mind once on board. If you decide to fully cancel your participation in the activity during the voyage, please be aware that you will not be entitled to a refund – neither partially nor fully. Contact our team for further details on our paddling cancellation policy.
Cabins & Prices
Taste of Santiago
Day 1 – Santiago On arrival into Santiago Airport, you will be greeted and transferred to your home for the next
4 DAYS / 3 NIGHTS
Santiago & Valparaiso Explorer
Day 1 – Santiago On arrival into Santiago Airport, you will be greeted and transferred to your home for the next
6 DAYS / 5 NIGHTS
Taste of Buenos Aires
Day 1 – Buenos Aires Arrive at Buenos Aires Airport, where you will be met by a representative from Aurora Expeditions and
4 DAYS / 3 NIGHTS
Buenos Aires & Iguazu Falls Explorer
Day 1 – Buenos Aires > Iguazu Falls Transfer from your hotel to the airport for a morning flight to
6 DAYS / 5 NIGHTS
Patagonia Eco Camp
A stay at the Cascada EcoCamp, unique in Patagonia, is comfortable, environmentally friendly, and a truly amazing experience. Cascada EcoCamp
5 DAYS / 4 NIGHTS
Atacama Desert Adventure
Day 1 – Calama – San Pedro de Atacama Marte Valley, Moon Valley: Reception at Calama’s airport and transfer to the
4 DAYS / 3 NIGHTS
Departs Daily (subject to flight schedule)
from USD 1,662
Other expeditions you may like
*Terms & Conditions apply. Valid on select ship voyages only. Offer is valid on new bookings only aboard the Greg Mortimer or Sylvia Earle which must be booked and deposited by 30 Nov 2023. Promotion is subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is only available in conjunction with the back to back voyage discount or the loyalty program offer, and not available with any other offer. The promotion can be withdrawn at any time and is not redeemable for cash. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. To confirm your booking, a completed booking form and non-refundable deposit of $2,500 pp in the booking currency is required within 7 days of reserved berth/s. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Please see full terms and conditions.
^Terms & Conditions apply. Additional 5% discount valid on both voyages but two voyages must connect back to back in terms of dates to be eligible. Offer is valid on new bookings only aboard the Greg Mortimer or Sylvia Earle. Promotions are subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is only available in conjunction with early bird voyage discount or the loyalty program offer, and not available with any other offer. The offer can be withdrawn at any time and are not redeemable for cash. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. Please see full terms and conditions.