Costa Rica's Islands

Soft, bleached sand and casually leaning palms fringe Isla Tortuga, an island of tropical dry forest that makes a perfect day trip from San Jose, Puntarenas, Montezuma, and other beach towns. A 40-minute hiking trail wanders past monkey ladders, strangler figs, bromeliads, and the fruit-bearing guanábana (sour sop) and marañón (cashew) trees, and goes up to a lookout point with tantalizing vistas.

Cocos Island is one of the most beautiful jewels in the Costa Rican National Park system, unique for its biogeography and its high number of endemic species. Of the most important islands of the Eastern Tropical Pacific, it is the only one that receives sufficient rainfall to support a tropical rain forest. Since Coco is an oceanic island, it has relatively few species; some having their origin as far away as the Indian Ocean. The isolated environmental conditions make the island a unique destination for nature lovers.

Caño Island Biological Reserve is located less than 30 miles off the Pacific coast of southwest Costa Rica and is one of the most valuable archeological sites in the country. Caño Island is also one of the world's newest hot spots for adventure diving; this virgin area offers a variety of unique diving attractions. "The Devil's Drop" for example, is a rock pile that begins at 40' and drops to as deep as 250'. It is not uncommon for divers upon descent to be met by schools of thousands of fish swimming freely among them.

In the North Pacific Coast, Isla Murciélagos (Bat Island) and the Catalina Island are located. The exposed location of these islands guarantees an abundant variety of sea wildlife that is hardly to be found somewhere else. For some reason - unexplored up to now - the Catalina and Bat Islands are a melting pot of very different undersea wildlife and fish that usually do not occur together. With good luck, even whale sharks are to be seen at Bat Island.