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Cocos Island...

Costa Rica's Green Paradise for Scuba Diving

by: Aventuras Elegantes

Cocos Island National Park

Sank in the middle of the infinite Pacific Ocean, we find the Cocos Island. It is one of the protected areas with the greatest diversity in terms of wildlife and one of the best places for Costa Rica Scuba Diving Vacation.

It is a huge natural laboratory for scientists and nature lovers. It has 2.400 Ha, with 510 species of sea mollusks, 362 species of insects, 235 species of plants, 200 species of fish, 97 species of birds, 57 species of crustaceans, 3 species of spiders and 2 species of reptiles.

In this huge diversity, there are over 130 species of endemic flora and fauna. It is an ideal place for scuba diving, snorkeling, bird watching and wildlife watching.

The trip to Cocos Island is in itself a great adventure. After traveling for over 36 hours on the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, a "green bouquet is seen far into the sea".

Legends say that pirates and corsairs, like William Davies, Benito Bonito and William Thompson, found a safe place to hide their treasures in this Island. For many, Robert Stevenson was inspired on those tales of sailors to write his famous novel the Treasure Island.

Although you will not find golden medals or precious gems, you will find the most valuable treasure of all: The natural richness of flora and fauna.

As soon as you arrive, it is as if time is suddenly going back, as taking a leap to an old world, a place that remains intact through time. Cocos Island is probably one of the places with most endemic flora and fauna in the world.

In just 2.400 hectares, there have always been 139 endemic species in the national park. More than 230 species of plants, out of which 70 are endemic, including the Palo de Hierro (Sacogiottis holdridgei).

More than 85 species of birds inhabit the park, but 3 of them can only be seen in Cocos Island National Park: Cuclillo from Cocos Island (Coccyzus ferrugineus); Mosquerito (Nesotriccus ridgwayi) and Pinzon from Cocos Island (Pinaroloxias inomata). Two reptiles joined the selective and exclusive list of species that are unique in the world: Lizard (Norops townsendi) and the Salamander (Sphaerodactuylus pacificus).

If you are already amazed with the natural panorama in land, come on and explore the depths...many more treasures are waiting for you.

Scuba Diving at Cocos Island implies a unique experience for any diver as soon as you go down, a world full of life appears before your eyes, thousands of fish swimming around you forming a synchrony of colors, a rainbow in the plenitude of the will be hypnotized when your eyes are set of great schools of hammer shark (Sphyna lewini)or when you see the amazing white finned sharks (Triaenodon obesus) swimming very close to you.

Today, as it was for the buccaneers, the only way to get to Cocos is by boat. Divers, who make up the vast majority of visitors, usually arrive on live-aboard dive boats (a 9- or 10-day trip from the port of Puntarenas).

If they go ashore, it's usually only to dry out for a spell. But exploring the 14-square-mile, virtually uninhabited island that Jacques Cousteau once called the most beautiful in the world isn't really a hardship.

There are other Cocos Islands in the world (near Guam, Australia, and Mauritius to name a few), but there is only one "Shark Island. " That's a good thing, right?

Field Notes

Scuba Diving: As dive site names go, Dirty Rock isn't the most inviting, but this rocky outcropping about a half mile off the north shore of the island has one of the largest hammerhead shark populations in the world, along with giant manta rays.

Expect 120-foot-plus visibility. For even more mantas, head to Dampier Head at the southwest corner of the island, where rays with wingspans up to 10 feet seem to like to swim with divers.

Nature, Nature and Nature. A natural laboratory similar in some ways to the Galapagos (which lacks the tropical rainforest here), Cocos is home to an estimated 60 endemic animal species.

Bird watchers will note that the rocky islets off the island are prime nesting areas for seabirds, including the red-footed booby, and that three of the island's 70 or so species include three found nowhere else: the Cocos Cuckoo, the Cocos Finch (shades of Darwin!), and the Cocos Flycatcher.

Hiking: For a little legwork between dives, head up 2,092-foot Mount Yglesias, the highest peak on the island. The trail to the summit, one of several on the island, leads through rainforest (and passes the wreck of a B-24 in the jungle), and the view of the Pacific at the top might even make you forget about your swim fins for a while.

For more information, visit

About The Author

Aventuras Elegantes is a Costa Rica Travel Expert. Visit,
[email protected]

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