When Enric Sala, a marine ecologist and diver who’s seen it all, puts someplace on his Adventure Bucket List, who are we to argue? Sala picks Cocos Island, off Costa Rica, for its amazing natural variety: “It’s hard to find another place in the ocean with the same tons of large animals per hectare … If it’s not a school of 200 hammerhead sharks, it is a bait ball attacked by Galapagos sharks, dolphins, and seabirds.” Jacques Cousteau agreed; he called Cocos Island “the most beautiful island in the world.”
Tempted? Grab your scuba gear and get ready to travel—Cocos Island is about 341 miles off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The entire island, as well as nine miles of surrounding water, is both a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The island itself is volcanic and features a jagged coastline, cliffs, waterfalls, and sandy beaches. It’s also the only island with a tropical rainforest in the eastern Pacific.
On shore, expect to see around 87 different species of birds, and in the water you’ll find sharks, rays, tuna, dolphins, and much more.
Where is it? 341 miles off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Fly to San Jose (check prices) and drive to the port of Puntarenas, where most boat voyages depart.
Where to Stay? Stay aboard a ship, as it will take around 36 hours to reach the island from Puntarenas. Rest up before your sea voyage at Barcelo Los Delfines Golf and Country Club in Puntarenas.
What Else Should I Know? Be prepared to shell out to sail—charter dive trips can cost more than $3,000.
Who’s it For? Divers, ecologists, sailors.
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(Photo: Shutterstock/Travis Hilliard)