Cocos Island

The mecca for divers! A remote, stunning island destination on the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica.


Cocos Island at a Glance

  • Ideal for: Seasoned divers, adventure seekers and nature lovers.
  • Nearby activities: Scuba diving, wildlife watching, hiking and sportfishing.
  • Main dive spots: Bajo Alcyone, Dirty Rock, Dos Amigos Grande, Everest, Manuelita Coral Garden (night dives).

Special Features:

Diving adventure like no other; jungle paradise in the middle of the Pacific Ocean; a true remote destination.

Fast Facts

Region: Eastern Tropical Pacific, 340 miles (500km) off Coast
Closest Town: None
Altitude: Sea Level to 2080 ft (600 m)
Closest Airports: None
Average Temperature: 76º-85º F(24º-29º C)
Costa Rica, a country known for its popularity, holds a hidden treasure that remains undiscovered by many: Cocos Island (Isla del Coco). Tucked away in the vast Pacific Ocean, approximately 340 miles off the coast, this island is a true gem. Despite being a part of Costa Rica's national parks, it remains remote and largely unexplored. Only avid scuba divers truly understand its allure.
With a rich history dating back to the daring explorers and pirates of the 1500s and 1600s, Cocos Island has become a subject of legends, whispered tales of hidden treasures. Since 1832, it has been under Costa Rican jurisdiction, allowing only around thirty park rangers to inhabit its shores. Renowned French explorer Jacques Cousteau once proclaimed Isla del Coco as "the most beautiful island in the world," and it rightfully earned its UNESCO World Heritage status in 1997. Fun fact: It is even said to have inspired the iconic "Isla Nublar" from Michael Crichton's blockbuster novel-turned-movie, Jurassic Park.
Formed millions of years ago through volcanic eruptions, Cocos Island boasts an extraordinary biodiversity found nowhere else on Earth. Its landmass showcases four impressive peaks, with Cerro Iglesias standing tall at 2,080 feet. The island is enveloped in lush rainforests, nurtured by constant rainfall and average temperatures in the upper 80s year-round. 
What sets Cocos Island apart is the presence of cloud forests, a result of the combination of abundant rainfall and elevated peaks. Furthermore, during the peak rainy season, the island boasts numerous freshwater rivers and up to 70 waterfalls.
So, if you're seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure, set your sights on Cocos Island. Immerse yourself in its untamed beauty and uncover the secrets that lie beneath its waters. Costa Rica may be well-known, but Cocos Island remains a true hidden paradise for those who dare to explore its depths.

Wildlife & Nature

Natural beauty aside, what makes Cocos Island so special however is the incredible amount of biodiversity it hosts. It is home to 235 species of vascular plants, of which 70 (about 35%) are endemic. There are also 362 species of insects, 64 (nearly 18%) of which are found only on the island. Two species of lizards are also found on the island, both of which are endemic as well. There are also nearly 90 species of birds that call the island home, three of which are found only on Cocos Island – the Cocos Cuckoo, the Cocos Flycatcher, and the Cocos Finch. Last but not least, there are 5 species of mammals found on the island – all of which were introduced by humans throughout the years. They include pigs, deer, cats, and rats, which the government vowed to keep under control as they can be harmful to the natural ecosystem.
The amazing biodiversity continues beneath the surface of the ocean too, which is the real attraction today. Cocos Island provides a unique marine habitat by offering shallow waters, calm bays, coral reefs, volcanic tunnels, and caves amidst the deep Pacific Ocean currents. This provides a home to over 30 species of coral, 60 species of crustaceans, and over 300 species of fish.  It’s this combination of clear, shallow water and deep water pelagic fish that attracts divers from all over the world. Divers here can see huge schools of yellow-fin tuna, giant manta rays, billfish, eels, and up to seven different species of sharks including the biggest fish in the world – the whale shark. 
It is here where schools of hammerhead sharks in the hundreds can swim overhead and block out the sunlight. In addition to all that, divers can also see whales, dolphins, and three different species of turtles (hawksbill, green, and olive ridley). To give further proof of how breath taking all this marine life is, PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) recently named Cocos Island one of the top ten dive spots in the world.

Best Time to Visit

As diving is THE reason to visit this remote island, encounters with big animals while diving at calm seas are most frequent in June-July, with conditions getting rough after July through November. Still, Hammerheads are usually in greater numbers during this period. Dry season lasts from December to May and conditions are much better.

Services & Infrastructure on Cocos Island

As an isolated island, Cocos has limited services:
Transportation: Visitors must arrive by boat.
Public amenities: Yes; there are public bathrooms, showers, and water fountains.
ATMs: No.
WiFi or Internet: Villa Beatriz, the ranger station in Wafer Bay, has internet.
Cell Phone Reception: No. Villa Beatriz, the ranger station in Wafer Bay, has a public telephone.
Restaurants: No.
Nearest medical facilities: Wafer Bay and Chatham Bay have park stations, but there is no clinic.

Marine Conservation Milestones

Former Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado demonstrated his commitment to environmental preservation by expanding Cocos Island National Park in 2021, enlarging its fully protected area by nearly 53,000 square kilometers. This expansion, which includes strict regulations prohibiting fishing and extractive activities, serves as a vital sanctuary for marine life. 
Cocos Island and its surrounding seamounts are internationally recognized for their unparalleled richness and abundance of species, making their protection crucial for safeguarding both Costa Rica's and the world's biodiversity. These efforts exemplify the commitment of the nation to prioritize environmental conservation, sustainable management of marine resources, and the long-term well-being of their ecosystems. 
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