The approximately 24 km² coconut island is the only East Pacific island that is covered with tropical rainforest. Steep rock faces, waterfalls and jungle alternate on the island, which made history as the legendary “Treasure Island” of Robert Louis Stevenson ‘s novel of the same name. The island, located 532 km from the mainland, belongs to the Central American Costa Rica and preserves a unique biological diversity on land and under water. Check sunglasseswill to see Costa Rica Tour Plan.
Cocos Islands National Park: Facts
|Official title:||Cocos Islands National Park|
|Natural monument:||with a marine reserve of 997 km², an island of 24 km², the only one in the East Pacific with a humid tropical rainforest, located in the center of the volcanic Cocos Ridge, which extends from the Galápagos Islands to Central America; between 1684 and 1821 legendary treasure and pirate island, which is connected with the names of William Davis, William Thompson and Benito Bonito, probably since 1821 hiding place for the church treasures of Lima, 1872–74 used as a prison island|
|Location:||555 km west of Puntarenas|
|Appointment:||1997, 2002 expansion by a marine reserve|
|Meaning:||an ideal laboratory for studying biological developments in the Eastern Pacific|
|Flora and fauna:||87 bird species, including the “Cocos Island cuckoo” (Coccyzus ferrugineus), but also red-footed and brown boobies, banded frigatebirds and Noddise tern, 2 reptiles only native to this island such as the puffer-finger gecko species Sphaerodactylus pacificus, 57 crustaceans and over 500 molluscs, 305 Species of fish including hammerhead shark, whale shark and manta ray; Coral reef with 32 coral species; due to the occurrence of El Niño 1982/83 destruction of 90% of the corals, 362 insect species, including the spider species Wendilgarda galapagensis; with 7,000 mm of precipitation per year tropical rainforest vegetation with 70 plant species native to this island only, among others. Huriki (Sacoglottis holdridgei) and Cecropia pittieri|
Of gamblers and gold doubloons
Cliff walls overgrown with green rises abruptly from the sea, waterfalls tumble down them, behind them peaks that rise up to Cerro Iglesias, in between deeply plunging valleys with impenetrable jungle and raging rivers: just crossing this island, which is only 24 square kilometers in size, can take days, where you are constantly threatened by heavy rains, landslides, fire ants and snakes. It is no wonder that the island became known primarily for its secrets and tragedies: It is Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”, the most famous pirate island in the world. At least three great treasures are said to be hidden there: the collected loot of the pirate William Davis, weighing several tonswho hid on Coconut Island for two years at the end of the 17th century, the treasure of the corsair Benito Bonito, known as “the bloody sword”, buried here in 1819, and the last to bring him the immeasurable church treasure of Lima, which was brought here in 1821 the insurgents under the command of José de San Martín to rescue. He, too, has disappeared forever on the island in the Eastern Pacific. Since then there have been stories of mysterious maps, of gamblers and technically complex expeditions, of corpses and gold doubloons that were found in caves and on the beach, of a German-American adventurer who, equipped with a dubious copy of the map, spent years on the island and spent all his savings looking for the lost treasures. There have been hundreds of attempts to dig up the treasure; There were probably even more, because many treasure hunters tried their luck by circumventing the strict requirements of the Costa Rican government, which requires an official permit and their share of what was found.
But was anything ever found? Individual pieces of gold and jewels certainly, but at least there is no evidence that the treasures valued at more than one hundred million dollars have ever come to light again.
Compared to these stories, today’s role of the island as a national park of Costa Rica seems almost banal. It’s about other riches: The island is an almost untouched niche in which, similar to the Galápagos Islands, which are located on the same volcanic chain, but climatically very different, an unbelievable variety of animals and plants has been preserved: hundreds of reptiles and insects, birds of all kinds that have not yet had any experience with humans and are curiously buzzing over the heads of the visitors; a finch, a cuckoo and a flycatcher can only be found here, as well as the Cupey palm. Hundreds of fish species, mollusks and crustaceans cavort in the balmy ocean, but above all a multitude of feared sharks. Bathing and diving becomes an adventure, if not to risk; if you fish, you have to fight for your prey with the “predators of the sea”.
Abundantly fertile and stocked with game and fish, the island is no place for people. Accessible terrain can only be found in two small bays in the northwest, where every stone has now been turned over by treasure hunters. The rangers of the National Park Service, who also live here, make sure that birds and reptiles are not disturbed, that the introduced pigs do not get out of hand and that each of the few privileged visitors – up to 3,000 dollars can be raised for an excursion – no more than the one permitted lobster per person Day fishes.