Cocos Island

Also Known As: Isla del Coco 24.9 °C

© CC By Stephane Enten

Cocos Island Island

Isla del Coco is a truly extraordinary island. The unique shape and character, the isolated location and the many legends and fables about the hidden treasures, have made the island a source of inspiration for many. Jacques Cousteau called it "the most beautiful island in the world" (yes, he said that about a lot of islands). Cocos inspired Michael Crichton to write 'Jurassic Park'. Some even claim Robert Louis Stevenson came up with 'Treasure Island' because of Cocos Island.
Cocos Island really is not only a treasure island, it is a treasure in itself. Even if the weather is not all that great: it rains pretty much twelve months a year, the only difference being the amount of rainfall. For divers the wet(test) season is the best: June to December. Others might want to plan a trip early in the year. Just make sure to pack a raincoat and goretex shoes.
On the sunnier side: all that fresh water makes the island incredibly green and fertile. With dozens of waterfalls, mountain peaks and a unique flora and fauna, Cocos is also the only island with rainforest in the Eastern Pacific.
The island is uninhabited except for the park rangers that are stationed here. And you need permission from them to visit the island. Access is restricted in the sense that overnight stays are a no-no and visitors can look around but are not allowed to take anything from the island.
For any nature lover it should be near the top of your wish list. But it should be the number 1 spot on the list of any and every serious diver. Want to see sharks? Well, Roy Scheider eat your heart out: here you get to see hundreds, maybe even thousands of sharks. White tips, hammerheads, silver tips, and many more. Add whale sharks, marlin, tuna, sail fish and other pelagic fish, throw in turtles, manta's and dolphins and you might as well call it Disney World for Divers.
Not only that, Isla del Coco should also be the number one destination for treasurehunters. The famous Treasure of Lima is supposed to be buried here. Looted by the Spanish conquistadors in Peru, who in turn got robbed by pirate William Thompson. The former trader burried the treasure on Cocos Island. Worth millions of dollars the gold and jewels, with a solid gold and life-sized statue of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus as its showpiece, have never been found. Thompson was caught and led the Spanish to this island to retrieve the hoard but once on land escaped into the jungle never to be seen again.
Another treasure that according to some was buried here, was the main loot of Benito 'Bloody Sword' Bonito. This legendary pirate worked his way around the west coast of North and South America. Bonito and his men robbed the Spanish of an enormous amount of silver dollars near Acapulco. Although most legends tell of the treasure being hidden in Canada or even Australia, some believe it should be on Cocos Island. It certainly would make more sense, distance-wise, than Canada or Australia.
Numerous people have tried to find one of the buried treasures, among them famous personalities as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Errol Flynn and Sir Malcolm Campbell. Only in 2012 another British expedition left for the island to try and find the Treasure of Lima.
The one most worth mentioning is August Gissler. The German adventurer was even named first Governor of Cocos Island by the Costa Rican government, impressed as the officials were with his thorough plans. He even got some families to settle on the island and start coffee plantations - at the same time introducing more pests to the island. As thorough as his plans were, the fun lasted only until 1908 for Gissler and his settlers. For nine years the treasurehunter lived on and off the island and dug a spiderweb of tunnels on Cocos, some of which can still be found. All he got for his efforts was a handful of golden coins...



As described above, this is a divers paradise. Name a shark or a pelagic fish, and chances are you'll see them here. There are some twenty dive sites around... Login for more


There are three endemic land birds on the island: Cocos cuckoo, Cocos finch and Cocos flycatcher. All three are threatened by the introduced feral... Login for more

Whales and wildlife

Since Cocos Island is a long way from continental America, all of its flora and fauna arrived with the wind or over sea, carried by birds or driftwood. Most... Login for more


First mapped in 1541 by Nicholas Desliens, who incidentally put it at the wrong spot, its first real description comes from Lionel Wafer. He was the 'doctor'... Login for more


Portugese or Spanish explorers in the first half of the 16th century.


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Country:Costa Rica
Area:24 km2
Protected:Unesco World Heritage Site.

Enlarge map


Getting there:Hard.
By sea: chartered or liveaboards from Puntarenas.
When to go:


Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (1990)
Early Man and the Ocean by Thor Heyerdahl (1978)
Treasure Islands: The Fascinating World of Pirates, Buried Treasure, and Fortune Hunters by Cameron Platt and John Wright (1995)
The Lost Treasure of Cocos Island by Ralph Weston and Julian A. Hancock (1960)
The face of the deep by Thomas Farber (1998)
Die Geheimnisse der Kokosinsel by Georg Bremer (2009)
A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America by Lionel Wafer (1908, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2011)


Jurassic Park (1993)
Deep Blue (2003, documentary)

Star Board

Sir Malcolm Campbell
Errol Flynn
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Benito 'Bloody Sword' Bonito
John Cook
Edward Davis
William Dampier
Lionel Wafer


Cocos 2010