Cocos Island, The Galapagos Of Central America
Cartographers and Mariners already knew about Cocos Island at the beginning of the sixteenth century; it holds the name Isle des Cocques on an ancient map by Nicholas Desliens made in 1541! The Cocos Island became a National Park in 1978 and were declared a World Heritage Site in 1997 thanks to the UNESCO. The Isla del Coco has located about 550 km away from the Pacific Coast, and it takes at least 36 hours to reach it. This is not a trip for amateurs; the crossing is tough, and once you get there, there are of course no hotels or accommodations of any kind; those traveling to the island stay on the boat. The island itself, square in shape, measures 23.85 square meters.
What To See In Cocos Island
The Isla del Coco is one of Costa Rica’s top destinations for lovers of nature, scientists, biologists and scuba divers. Its large population of Giant Manta Rays, Whale Sharks, Dolphins and other marine species is truly out of this world. Indeed this is one of the very few places in the world where hammerhead sharks assemble by the thousands; many scientists believe today that they are coming to the region to breed.
Typically diving takes place from boats like Zodiacs or other small aluminum boats. With up to 20 divers per boat and a maximum of 3 dives per day. Some divers are sometimes offered night dive; this is according to their experience and specialties. There are no less than fifty-nine species of fish. Also, ninety-seven mollusks and fifty-seven crustaceans in the waters of the island, and two species of lizards, and seven species of land bird, while up to seventy-four species of visiting marine birds including the endemic Isla del Coco Finch, Isla del Coco Cuckoo, and the Cocos Island Flycatcher. The most stunning of them all must be the Espiritu Santo, or White Tern. A beautiful small white bird that does not seem to mind flying right above people’s heads, apparently fearless.
On The Island
Because of its wet and oceanic climate, Isla del Coco has the biological variety that is to be found nowhere else. When going on a Tour of the Isla del Coco through the thick green tropical foliage, it is easy to let yourself be carried away by your wildest fantasies. True to its old pirate’s island past, it is full of old caves that seem such ideal hiding places for treasures of precious jewels and gold. There are carved messages on rocks left by explorers and seafarers, Cousteau being one of them.
Worth seeing are some incredible waterfalls 60 meters high that are incredibly refreshing if you are brave enough to dive in. The Isla del Coco has fresh water in abundance. It is rich in fish and is inhabited by pigs that were introduced in 1793. Thus it was a favorite spot for pirates and whaling vessels. Like all pirates’ islands, Isla del Coco has its tales and secrets. It is said that there was an old German of the name of Gissler who lived on the island in 1900 with his American wife. They searched the island during 20 years for gold. Only until they were forced to go back to the mainland. Gissler eventually died penniless in New York.
The Present Reality Of Isla del Coco
The future of the Isla del Coco as an unmarked and pristine natural habitat is however in danger. There is a lot of illegal fishing going on in the area, as seen in the “ Sharkwater” documentary. Another problem is a number of damages caused by the introduced species such as the pigs. Also the cats and rats. Because of its isolation, the island proves difficult to protect, added to the fact that of course resources are scarce.
The Isla del Coco are not part of the Tourist trails; it is, however, important to be aware of them and of what once can do to help protect this little wonder of the world. Indeed, the island was nominated for the Seven Wonders of the World in 2010! The Amigos de la Isla del Coco Foundation together with Wall Mart Corporation has launched a campaign to raise $100,000 for the protection of the Island! Let’s hope that all this care and protection all have a positive effect so that future generation can continue to enjoy the Isla del Coco!
So many cool islands in Costa Rica.