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Cano Island Diving and Snorkeling: The Best Place in Costa Rica

Cano island biological reserve Costa Rica covers 2.910 hectares equal to 7.160 acres of territory and was set up in 1978. The main purpose of this area was to protect the local burial areas and artifacts but also the coral reefs and the surrounding area.

Most people that go to Caño island Costa Rica are looking to discover the unique underwater world around the island as this is one of the best places for snorkeling and scuba diving in the world.

Isla del Cano or Dog island Costa Rica as it translates into English is found in the Pacific Ocean about 20 kilometers from Drake Bay and the Osa Peninsula, from Costa Rican mainland.

On Cano island you cannot find any hotels or guesthouses, there is only a ranger station with the precise role of protecting the marine park and the territorial area.

Cano island Costa Rica diving experience is among the best in the area, while for snorkeling in Costa Rica, Cano island is the second best area after the world-famous Coco Island.

How to get to Cano Island Costa Rica biological reserve

The only way to get to this beautiful island is by boat, once you reach Uvita, Sierpe, a small village located right on the Sierpe river or Drake Bay.

To get to the Osa Peninsula you can take the plane from San Jose or rent a car but be careful that the road is pretty bumpy on some parts and you might need a 4×4 vehicle, especially during the rainy season.

But once you reach the Osa Peninsula, head to Uvita or Sierpe, the two most popular starting points for your trip to Isla del Cano.

Costa Rica Cano Island Costa Rica
Costa Rica Cano Island Costa Rica

If you choose Uvita as a starting point, then you should know that you will take your boat from the national park Marino Ballena, one of the most beautiful natural reserves from Costa Rica.

Most of the boats depart quite early in the morning, around 7 a.m., and come back late in the afternoon so you have the whole day to explore Cano island, Costa Rica.

The boat ride lasts for about 1 and a half hours and on your way to the island you might meet dolphins and whales, so have your camera prepared for such unique encounters.

If you choose to depart from Sierpe, you will cross the largest mangrove forests from Costa Rica on your way to the island.

The boat trip from Sierpe to Isla del Cano lasts for about 2 hours and most of the trip is on the Sierpe river, a great opportunity to observe the mangrove forest from the area.

If in Uvita you will find a secure parking lot where to leave your car during the day trip, in Sierpe there are no such facilities, just an unguarded parking lot where you park your car the whole day.

And there is always the third option: Drake Bay, a beautiful bay located on the northern side of the Osa Peninsula.

From all the three departure places to Cano island Costa Rica biological reserve, Drake Bay is the most touristy with hotels and guesthouses in the nearby port location.

An advantage of Drake Bay is that it is the closest to the island, the trip to Cano island lasts only 1 hour but the bay access paths are quite difficult to find.

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Best time to visit Cano island Costa Rica

Like all the islands located on the Pacific Coast, Costa Rica Cano Island has two important seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.

The dry season lasts from December to April and it is the favorite period to visit Costa Rica by most travelers.

The sun is shining, the water is blue with increased visibility, perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling on Cano Island.

Tortuga Island Costa Rica Snorkeling
Tortuga Island Costa Rica Snorkeling

After so many sunny days, it is time to get wet during the rainy season that lasts from May to November. Rainy season does not mean non-stop rain; there are plenty of sunny and warm days during this time of year, too.

Actually the start of the rainy season is a great time to visit Costa Rica as the forests are lush and green, the crowds have gone and the prices drop considerably.

More than that, during the rainy season, more exactly in September, the beautiful humpback whales come to the waters around Costa Rica to mate and give birth to a new generation.

Cano island snorkeling experience

Snorkeling Cano Island is the main attraction of this beautiful Costa Rican island because of the underwater world.

Full of incredible marine life: white-tipped sharks, sting rays, manta rays, whale sharks, moray eels, more than 20 species of corals, marlin, tuna, barracudas, colorful coral reef fish as well as false orcas, giant snapper and sailfish.

Put your scuba masks and prepare for unique encounters with marine life mentioned above, a one-in-your lifetime experience.

It is not a problem if you are not a good swimmer; just ask for a life vest and jump into the water under the strict surveillance of your instructor.

You will be fascinated by the marine world you will discover around this amazing island and the beautiful coral reef that hosts many beautiful creatures.

Cano Island scuba diving

If you are thinking of diving for the first time, then Scuba Diving Cano Island is the best place to start your adventure.

The waters are warm and are home to a wide range of marine creatures as well as many species of the coral reefs so you will have plenty of things to observe and photograph.

Scuba Diving Cano Island Costa Rica scuba diving
Scuba Diving Cano Island Costa Rica Scuba Diving

Diving Cano Island

To fully enjoy what this amazing island has to offer, I strongly recommend you take a basic diving course before booking your trip to Cano island to get a diver license that allows you to dive everywhere in the world.

You can dive without the course, but it is better to have as you never know when you will need it and the prices are lower than in other famous scuba diving sites across the world.

The Flexible TRAVEL insurance COVERS 150 activities you love + more

Whether you prefer to do summer and water activities or winter and snow activities, you should have a travel insurance.

Just think about any activity you wish to do on your holiday and this travel insurance will cover it. Don't take my word for it, check and see for yourself!

What to pack for Cano Island Costa Rica

If you plan to visit Cano island biological reserve you definitely have to pack with you:

  • a towel
  • some dry clothes to change after you finish the diving or snorkeling experience
  • comfortable shoes
  • suncream
  • insect repellent
  • bathing suit
  • a raincoat
  • camera or Go Pro to catch the unique underwater encounters.


Where to sleep

You cannot sleep on the island, as there are no facilities for tourists, but you can pick a hotel on Drake Bay or Uvita.

Our favorite pick from this area are:

Drake Bay: Drake Bay Greenleaf Costarica nested in the middle of the rainforest, close to nature with breathtaking views of the Pacific coast, offering amazing services and beautiful bungalows.

Uvita: Oxygen Jungle Villas Costa Ballena Costa Rica featuring an infinity pool, spa treatments and an interesting indonesian architecture


Cano Island biological reserve is not the land of stray dogs as some of you might think, but it is a sacred place blessed with some of the most beautiful sceneries and an abundance of marine creatures.

The reservation is managed by the government and you cannot get to the island without a guide recognized by the authorities.

The opening hours of the park are each day from 8 in the morning till 4 in the afternoon and the entrance fee is about 15 USD per person.

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation
We always use as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance
We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money.

When we go for longer trips around the world we get Globelink Insurance as it offers a good cover for an affordable price.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected costs caused by medical events like illness, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.