Cocos Island, 'a verdant bouquet in the middle of the ocean' as it has been called, is located 496 km from Cabo Blanco on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica between 5º 30' 26" and 5º 30' 06" latitude north and between 87º 05' 46" and 87º 01' 47" longitud west.
It is a volcanic edifice that lies 3,000 m from the underwater ridge known as the asismic crest of El Coco, a chain of underwater volcanoes that extends from the Galapagos Islands to the Central American Trench off Burica-Quepos Point. It was discovered by the Spanish navigator Joan Cabezas around 1526, and in 1556 it already appeared on Desliens's map under the name Ile de Coquess.
It first became famous thanks to the three treasures hidden there by Willan Davies, Benito 'Bloody Sword' Bonito and Willam Thompson beween 1684 and 1821. The so called treasure of Lima, which Thomson hid, is the most valuable of all because it includes a life size image of the Virging and Child in pure gold.
The island's topography is abrupt due to its recent formation and the strong waves created by the deep waters surrounding it. This factor and the approximately 7,000 mm of annual precipitation give rise to propitious conditions for many waterfalls, some of which drop spectacularly into the sea. There is almost permanent cloud, especially at the very top on Iglesias Hill 636m.
It is covered in evergreen forest in which 175 species of vascular plants have been recorded. These include 68 ferns and related plants, 85 higher fungi, 25 mosses and 27 liverworts. the most abundant tree species are copey (Clusia reosea), the palm Euterpe precatoria, the guarumo (Cecropia pittieri) and the iron wood tree (Sacoglottis holdridgei), the last two being endemics.
97 species of birds have been recorded, including three endemic residents: the Cocos Island cuckoo (Coccyzus ferrugineus), Cocs IIsland flycatcher (Nesotriccus ridgwayi) and Cocos Island finch (Pinaroloxias inornata). Two endemic reptiles , the lizard (Norops townsendi) and the gecko (Sphaerodactylus pacificus), three species of spiders, 57 crustaceans, 518 marine molluscs and 450 insects and arthropods have been recorded.
The coral reefs surrounding the island include 18 species of coral with (Porites lobata) the most numerous. Over 300 species of fish live in the calm blue waters: enormous hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) and white-tipped sharks (Triaenodon obesus) are very numerous and whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), the biggest fish in the world, have also been seen.
Access to the island is by sea; from Puntarenas the journey takes approximately 36 hours to Wafer Bay and Chatham Bay where are good anchoring conditions. There is no accommodation in the park, only facilities for the staff. It is possible to take long walks, go mountaineering, diving and boating. A boat trip around the island enables visitors to admire the countless waterfalls. Boats can be hired in Puntarenas to make the trip. In order to visit this national park, visitors need to obtain a special permission from the Cocos Island Conservation Area authorities. This can be done by calling (506) 283-8004.