Cocos Island National Park – UNESCO Heritage in Costa Rica



Cocos Island National Park is the only island in the tropical eastern Pacific with a tropical rainforest. Its position as the first point of contact with the northern equatorial counter-current, and the myriad interactions between the island and the surrounding marine ecosystem, make the area an ideal laboratory for the study of biological processes. The underwater world of the national park has become famous due to the attraction it holds for divers, who rate it as one of the best places in the world to view large pelagic species such as sharks, rays, tuna and dolphins. In 1997, listed in UNESCO Heritage list.


Located 550 km off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. Covering an area of 202,100 hectares some 530 kilometers off the Costa Rica mainland.

About Cocos Island National Park

1. Cocos Island National Park harbours a rare and complex mosaic of land and sea environments, including forested mountains, rivers, waterfalls, estuaries, cliffs, sandy and rocky beaches, bays, and extensive and highly diverse coral reefs and pelagic environments. Cocos Island is a scuba diving paradise that has been ranked among the top dive spots in the world, and has more than 20 dive sites located around the island.

2. The property serves as a dispersion centre of larvae of numerous marine species coming from the entire Pacific. The islets and rocks around the main island are reported to also serve as important cleaning stations, i.e. pelagic species aggregate to have parasites removed by specialised fish and other species.

3. The small island supports the only tropical forest ecosystem located on an oceanic island within the Tropical Eastern Pacific. It is home to some 70 endemic species of vascular plants and several endemic animals, including three birds, two reptiles and even two freshwater fish. Smaller satellite rocks around the island support nesting and resting habitats for numerous migratory and resident bird species.

4. Due to its geographical position, the oceanic island of volcanic origin is the first landmark met by the North Equatorial Counter-current and a point of confluence of other marine currents. This makes it a dispersing centre of larvae of marine species from various parts of the Pacific Ocean. In its land portion, the property hosts a remarkable degree of endemism across most diverse taxonomic groups. There are, for instance, three endemic bird species, two endemic freshwater fish and two endemic reptile species. Cocos Island National Park is of irreplaceable global conservation value, reminding us what parts of tropical oceans historically looked like.

5. 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

Best Time to Visit

If you are planning a Travel to Costa Rica then best time to visit Costa Rica is from mid-December to April (the dry season). This peak tourist season boasts plenty of sunshine making it an ideal time for exploring rainforests and lounging on beaches. For Cocos Island National Park, depending on your diving preference, calmer seas and better visibility are found between January and May.


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