Cocos Islands Costa Rica or Isla del Coco is an island located in the Pacific Ocean on the southwestern part of the mainland having around 24 square kilometers.
The island has been declared a national park (Cocos Island National Park) in 1978 and it does not have permanent inhabitants only day visitors except 14 park rangers.
Coco Islands Costa Rica has a rectangular shape and is located about 500 kilometers from Costa Rica’s mainland.
The closest islands are those located in the archipelago Malpelo and belong to Colombia located 630 kilometers away and Galapagos that belongs to Ecuador and is located 675 kilometers away.
The island has a unique climate and one of the richest biodiversity in the world and these things made from Cocos Island a hot point among travelers from all over the world.
Besides being a protected area since 1978, Isla del Coco Costa Rica is also a UNESCO world heritage site since 1997, a Ramsar site since 1998, and a Costa Rican Cultural Historic Site since 2002 and all because of its unique ecology.
Isla del Coco was proposed to be ranked among the 7 new wonders of the world and is considered to be among the 10 best recreational diving sites in the whole world.
How to get to Cocos Islands Costa Rica
For those of you interested in getting to Coco Islands Costa Rica I want to tell you that the route is quite long and you have to take a plane, a car, and a boat to get to the island.
The first thing you have to do in order to get to this island is to fly to San Jose International Airport from your home country.
From the airport, you need to take a car to get to Puntarenas which is 2 hours’ drive from the capital city of San Jose.
Once you reach Puntarenas take the boat that goes to the island and in about 36 hours you get from Costa Rica mainland to this island.
I told you that it is not very easy to get there but once you are there you will be amazed by the beauty and wilderness of this place.
Best time to visit Coco Islands in Costa Rica
As the main reason why people visit this island is diving, let’s discover together the best time of the year to visit Coco Islands for maximum visibility in the water and perfect weather.
The island has 2 seasons: the dry season from December to May and the rainy season from June to November.
The dry season that lasts from December to May is the best as the waters are calmer, the visibility is perfect and the sun is shining all day long.
The water visibility might reach up to 30 meters so you can easily observe everything that moves in the waters around you.
The rainy season on the other hand comes with rain, less visibility, and more turbulent waters which might cause seasickness to some of you.
The good news about visiting Cocos Islands in Costa Rica is that during the rainy season you have the highest chances to see whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, white tip sharks, and manta rays and eagle rays in the waters around the island.
Many marine creatures use the waters around this island as cleaning stations so you will always see scalloped hammerheads sharks and other big marine creatures around.
Actually, July is considered to be peak season for these creatures and even if the weather might not be perfect, you have high chances to spot these incredible animals close to the shore.
Diving around Cocos Islands Costa Rica
As I said earlier, Cocos Islands offers the best scuba diving conditions from all over the world being at the same time the most remote diving paradise.
Some of the diving sites are located in sheltered waters, protected from strong currents while others are located in the open ocean.
What makes this place a hotspot for divers is the fact that around the island there are submerged mountains that hide a wide variety of marine life.
The water temperature is great all year round with temperatures between 25 to 30 degrees Celsius (76 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit).
On a clear and sunny day, the visibility might go up to 30 meters, while on a cloudy day the visibility might decrease to 10 meters.
For those of you interested in experiencing unique sensations, we definitely recommend night dives and liveaboard diving around the island.
Dive trips are very popular because of the great conditions and the abundance of marine creatures from these waters.
The conditions are perfect for scuba diving but unfortunately, this place is not that famous for snorkeling as the conditions are not at their best.
In the waters around the islands, you will be able to spot many species of reef fish, as well as turtles, marlins, dolphins, sharks, marbled, and mantas rays.
If you plan for Cocos Island Costa Rica diving in the waters around the island you have to know that you need to have travel insurance for scuba diving because even if we don’t want it, accidents might happen.
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Bear in mind that Isla del Coco is a scuba diving site for experienced divers and its remote location and ocean currents make this place suitable only for the experienced ones.
Fauna and flora on Cocos Islands Costa Rica
The island has one of the richest fauna and flora in the world, being home to a tropical rain forest and cloud forest at high elevations.
Because the island has never been linked with the continent, it has its own flora and fauna and most of the species from these islands are unique and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Based on the experts’ studies, the island has almost 250 species of flowering plants out of which 75 are endemic.
There are also 75 species of allies and ferns, 130 species of liverworts and mosses as well as 40 species of slime molds, and almost 100 species of fungi.
There had been dramatic changes in the island’s flora if we compare what we find today on the island with the first written evidence made by the first Europeans that come to this place.
Today the island has three main plant communities:
- the coastal forest from 0 to 50 meters dominated by purple coral trees, pond-apple, and coconut palm
- the inland forest from 50 to 500 meters where you can find avocado, huriki, and the endemic Cecropia pittieri
- the cloud forest up to 500 meters dominated by Melastoma tree
Today on the island live more than 400 species of insects out of which 17% are endemic, two species of lizards, no amphibians, and also 95 species of birds.
The most common birds found on Coco Islands Costa Rica are: migratory seabirds like great frigatebird, brown noddy, cocos flycatcher, red-footed booby, and the list might go on.
The island has no native species of mammals and all the 5 species of mammals from the island had been brought here by people.
You can find on the island pigs, goats, deer, rats, and cats, all brought by humans on this island.
Not being endemic species, these mammals destroy the natural habitat so special measurements for controlling these populations had been taken.
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Cocos Islands Costa Rica does not have any accommodation facilities but you can sleep on a liveaboard that transports people to this island.
The closest hotel is located 36 hours boat ride from the island so sleeping on a boat is the only option you have.
Book a night on the mainland in Puntarenas and from there take the boat for the 36 rides to one of the best scuba diving places in the world.
Isla Chiquita Glamping Hotel Costa Rica is a unique hotel in Puntarenas, a glamping hotel with private bathrooms and amazing sun terraces with a view.
The staff, the services, and the glamping itself is amazing, so you definitely have to stay here when in Puntarenas.
Cocos Islands Costa Rica had been chosen among the 10 best scuba places in the world because of its beauty and unique habitat.
The most popular places for diving around the island are Bajo Alcyone ( hammerhead sharks), Dos Amigos Grande (natural underwater arch formation), and Manuelina Garden, one of the most beautiful coral gardens in the world.
Called “the most beautiful island in the world” by the famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, Cocos Islands en Costa Rica should be on your bucket list especially if you are fascinated by nature, wildlife, and marine creatures.
Make sure to take with you sun cream, a hat, a large quantity of fresh water to keep you hydrated for the long and interesting diving tours in the waters around Cocos Island.
Logistical tips and tricks for your trip
Book your accommodation
We always use Booking.com 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
Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, 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.