Isla del Coco National Park
Cocos Island National Park, is located 373 miles off of Puntarenas on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. As you approach it, you are greeted by sea birds and dolphins, and are attracted by the inviting turquoise hue of the ocean surrounding it. You’ll be able to observe coral reefs, manta rays, colorful fish, lobsters, and sharks. Cocos island has appeared in maps since as far back as 1541, and the ship names carved into the rocks in Chatham Bay, on the north eastern part of the sanctuary, suggest stories of pirates, adventure, and mystery that occurred there long ago. It has been rumored that the “Treasure of Lima” and the booty of Benito “Bloody Sword” Bonito were hidden there in the 1800’s. The legend of William Davies’ hoard goes back as far as the 1600’s. The lore of gold and silver has attracted many, though all have been unsuccessful. It is stories like this that give this tiny speck of land (29 square miles in area—only 7.5 miles long and 3 miles wide) an almost mystic air. It will probably never be known if the legends are true, but what is certain is that Isla del Coco is a national treasure trove of flora and fauna; an invaluable resource of rare species.
Isla del Coco National Park is a rainy region made up chiefly of steep cliffs formed by volcanic activity. This has proven to be an asset to the Costa Rica island, because it deterred the majority of settlers that might’ve thought about making this island their home before it was turned into a park. Efforts are being done to maintain the habitat of about 60 species of animals that are found nowhere else in the world, as well as of other creatures and vegetation. It is filled with different types of mollusks, crustaceans, fish, lizards, birds; the list goes on. 15% of the plant species are native to the Costa Rican island. However, it is sad to say that, although no permanent settlements have been successful here, their attempts have introduced animals and plants that threaten the delicate balance of this ecosystem. The unwelcome presence of pigs, goats, rats, deer, has put the delicate ecology in jeopardy. The pigs are an especially big problem, because they spread seeds, uproot plants, and cause erosion. This in turn damages the coral reefs by depositing sediments on them. Non-native coffee plants have also brought problems to the soil. The Costa Rican government has made some efforts to minimize the impact and assist in the conservation, but lack of funding and the island’s isolation make it difficult.
Although there is no place to stay on the actual island, some people plan weekly trips to go snorkeling and scuba diving off the coast of Isla del Coco, and its smaller surrounding islands. These reef areas have been described as one of the richest concentrations of schooling fish in the world. Indeed, there are about 270 different varieties of fish to be found there, many of them native species. The irregular terrain has created spectacular waterfalls that plummet into the ocean. There are also underwater caves to be explored. All in all, this area is an almost untouched piece of land and sea; a hidden jewel waiting to be discovered by anyone lucky enough to come upon it. Due to the strict laws protecting the island, it is difficult to visit it. However, if you are interested in scuba diving and snorkeling ask us about other tours, such as the one that goes to Catalina Island, off the coast of Tamarindo. There are many beautiful and exciting places in Costa Rica to practice these sports, so contact us for all your booking questions and needs.