Cocos Island is admired by scuba divers for its populations of sharks, rays, dolphins and other large marine species

Since this is an island you will see a lot of ocean, but if you ever get the chance to step foot on the island and are somewhat physically fit, hike to the top of the island with a guide. It is a magnificent view.

Thanks to the breathtaking marine life in its waters, Cocos Island was named one of the best 10 scuba diving spots in the world by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and a “must do” according to diving experts. For many, the main attractions are the large pelagic species, which are very abundant in this unique meeting point between deep and shallow waters. The largest schools of hammerhead sharks in the World are consistently reported there. Encounters with dozens if not hundreds of these and other large animals are nearly certain in every dive. Smaller and colorful species are also abundant in one of the most extensive and rich reefs of the south eastern Pacific. The famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau visited the island several times and in 1994 called it “the most beautiful island in the world”. These numerous accolades highlight the urgent need to protect Cocos Island and surrounding waters from illegal large-scale fishing, poaching and other problems.

The only persons allowed to live on Cocos Island are Costa Rican Park Rangers, who have established two encampments, including one at English Bay. Tourists and ship crew members are allowed ashore only with permission of island rangers, and are not permitted to camp, stay overnight or collect any flora, fauna or minerals from the island. Occasional amateur radio Expeditions are allowed to visit.

The inland forests extend from 50 to 500 meters elevation. Cloud forests are found at the highest elevations, over 500 meters.

Marine fauna – The rich coral reef, volcanic tunnels, caves, massifs and deeper waters surrounding Cocos Island are home to more than 30 species of coral, 60 species of crustaceans, 600 species of molluscs and over 300 species of fish. These include large populations of yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), giant mantas (Manta birostris), sailfish(Istiophorus platypterus) and sharks, such as Whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obesus) and Scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini). The largest of all species of fish is also present, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus).

Other large marine animals include humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), and sea lions(Zalophus californianus).

There are also reptiles; hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea).

How to Get There

As tourists are allowed ashore only with permission of island rangers, there are very limited ways to be able to step foot on the island but one of the best ways to experience this natural beauty is through a dive trip. There are two fully equipped dive boats that do week and a half trips out to the Island and back, they are the Okeanos Aggressor and Undersea Hunter.

Fees/Permits – In order to set foot on the island with the intent of treasure hunting requires a permit from the Costa Rican Government. This is because of the large numbers of treasure expeditions that have been seen come through the island over the last 50 years. Over 400 large scale expeditions have been assembled along with tens of thousands of smaller and independent searches.

Getting Around

Getting around the island is a little tricky. The main types of transportation are by foot or bike usually used for hikes and sight-seeing tours. The few locals who live here mainly use foot, or bike, or small motor bikes and dirt bikes.

Climate – Is hot and very humid. It rains just about everyday between March and December for a couple of hours.

Accomodations – Tourists and are not permitted to stay on the island.

Stay safe – Cocos island is a completely safe place with the only threats really being the attractions in the water. That is, the sharks, eels, and other creatures that might be seen while diving, snorkeling, boating, or fishing.


Mystery of Cocos Island   •   Locations & Activities


• To See & Do

• History