Cocos Island National Park
Cocos Island National Park rises from the Pacific 300 miles from Costa Rica’s mainland. This isolation has aided the island’s preservation.
In recognition of its unique forest and marine ecosystems, Cocos was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.
The island’s heavy rains—more than 275 inches annually—support tropical humid forest, cloud forest, dozens of waterfalls and nearly 90 bird species.
60 Endemic Species
At least 60 animal species here are endemic. Others originated in the Galapagos, eastern Pacific, and mainland Central America.
Cocos Island was known to mariners as early as 1542. Its abundant fresh water, wood, and fauna drew pirates and whalers.
The rocks of Chatham Bay are etched with inscriptions by visiting sailors from the 18th century onward.
Tales of treasure buried by the crews of the Mary Dear, Bachelor Delight, and Relampago have prompted over 300 expeditions, with limited success.
Today, outside of park rangers, the island is completely uninhabited.
Top Ten Scuba Destination
The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) named Cocos Island one of world’s ten best dive destinations.
The rich coral reef and volcanic caves support more than 300 species of fish, including giant manta rays, sailfish, and whale sharks.
The world’s largest schools of hammerheads are reported here. Humpback whales, dolphins, and sea lions are also present, as are Hawksbill, Green and Olive Ridley sea turtles.
The only way to reach Cocos is by sea. Most dive boats begin the 35-hour voyage from Puntarenas, staying at sea for ten to twelve days.
Because the surrounding marine environment is so fragile, access to the island is strictly limited; fewer than 1500 people are permitted to visit each year.
The dry season extends from January to April and the wet season from June to December. Torrential rain can be expected throughout the year.
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