Cocos Island, One of Costa Rica’s Seven Natural Wonders Being Considered One of the World’s Wonders
Cocos Island is a Costa Rica national park that Jacques Cousteau, the famous explorer, once called the most beautiful island he had ever encountered.
Though very few Costa Ricans have ever seen it themselves, they have named it one of Costa Rica’s Seven Wonders, and it is under consideration as one of the Seven Natural Wonders on Earth.
The island is about 340 miles off the Pacific shore of Costa Rica. Though it is very small, only about nine square miles, its fame today comes from its underwater treasure.
It is one of the truly great places in the world for scuba diving, considered by some to be the best place on the planet for large marine animal viewing.
The island sometimes has so many sharks around it that it has been called Shark Island. There are an incredible number of species of tuna, rays, sharks, and other fish, as well as sea turtles, porpoises, and whales. Hammerhead sharks are common and some of the largest Hammerheads ever reported were seen off this island.
The island has long been famous for pirates, real and imagined. It is believed by some that it served as inspiration for Robert Lewis Stevenson’s famous adventure Treasure Island but real pirates often sailed to it to get away from the English fleet and to bury treasure.
Indeed to this day two great treasures, called the Devonshire Treasure and the Lima Treasure, may still be buried there. How big are they? Think hundreds of millions of dollars.
It also fired the imagination of Michael Crichton whose famed Jurassic Park is set off the coast of Costa Rica.
The island is very isolated, hundreds of miles from any other land. Except for a few Costa Rica park rangers who are there to prevent its waters from poaching, it is uninhabited. That isolation has protected its rainforest from destruction and until recently its underwater splendor was also safe from depredation.
If you are one of the lucky few who get to visit Cocos, you will need previous permission from the rangers to go ashore and you will not be allowed to camp overnight. But, as you walk the shores, thinking of pirates and imagining where the buried treasure is, you will see many rocks along the shore bearing inscriptions from sailors over the centuries.
Way before “Kilroy was here”, sailors wrote their names and dates of visits. There is even one bearing the name of Jacque Cousteau’s son, who signed a rock a couple of decades ago. Like the others, it offers a remembrance of people, most long forgotten except for their memorials on the Pacific rocks of one of the Seven Wonders.