COCOS IS­LAND, Costa Rica

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Remote Island Escapes -

GOOD FOR: Un­der­wa­ter ad­ven­tures

As a for­mer pi­rate strong­hold, sur­rounded by shark-in­fested wa­ters and ru­moured to hide a fortune in buried gold, Cocos seems like the kind of is­land a giddy eight-year-old might con­jure. To­day, Costa Rica’s ec­cen­tric out­post, lo­cated 550km off its Pa­cific coast, is favoured mostly by divers; overnight stays on land are pro­hib­ited so live­aboard boat trips are the only way to visit.

The tiny Unesco-listed speck is home to just a few park rangers. Ac­cess is lim­ited and a guide is manda­tory if you want to ex­plore – a legacy of over-ea­ger trea­sure seek­ers. A hand­ful of trails lead over the hills, through won­der­fully vi­brant rain­forests a-whis­tle with en­demic finches, cuck­oos and other species, and via some of the is­land’s 200 wa­ter­falls.

How­ever, the real trea­sure is found be­neath the waves. The seas here are teem­ing: you might spot huge schools of ham­mer­head sharks, white-tip reef sharks, grace­ful manta rays, dol­phin pods, whale sharks, orca and hump­backs. If you’re not con­fi­dent in scuba gear, opt for a trip that in­cludes dives in a sub­mersible for widescreen views of this un­for­get­table un­der­wa­ter world.

GET­TING THERE: A hand­ful of tour com­pa­nies run live­aboard boat trips to Cocos Is­land from Puntare­nas (two hours’ drive from San José). The boat jour­ney takes around 36 hours.

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