Cocos Island National Park is a 5,706 acres island seamount that rises up from the depths of the Pacific, southwest of Costa Rica. It was established in 1978.
It consists of two bays (Bahía Wafer and Bahía Chatham) with sandy beaches, including numerous rivers and streams, many of which plunge over the peripheral cliffs in spectacular waterfalls.
Deep ocean currents bring cooler, nutrient rich waters up Cocos’ steep underwater topography, where it mixes with warmer surface waters to support an amazing ecosystem.
Terrestrial fauna includes species such as over 400 known species of insects, of which 65 (16%) are endemic. Over 50 species of other arthropods have been described (spiders, centipedes, millipedes, and isopods), including the endemic spider.
Two species of lizard are found on the island, an anole (Norops townsendii) and a gecko (Sphaerodactylus pacificus); both are endemic. No amphibians have been reported.
Nearly 90 bird species have been reported. The island hosts large nesting colonies of migratory seabirds, including the Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster), Red-footed Booby (Sula sula), Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor), White Tern (Gygis alba) and Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus). Seven species of land birds inhabit the island, including three endemics: the Cocos Cuckoo (Coccyzus ferrugineus), Cocos Flycatcher (Nesotriccus ridgwayi) and Cocos Finch (Pinaroloxias inornata).
In this huge Costa Rica marine ecosystem there is a rich coral reef, volcanic tunnels, caves, massifs and deeper waters surrounding Cocos Island are home to more than 30 species of coral, 60 species of crustaceans, 600 species of molluscs and over 300 species of fish. These include large populations of yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), giant mantas (Manta birostris), sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) and sharks, such as white-tips (Triaenodon obesus) and hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini). The largest of all species of fish is also present, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus).
Other large marine animals include humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), sea lions (Zalophus californianus), hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea).
Above ground it is a mountainous tropical rainforest, uninhabited except for a small ranger station. Cocos, also known as Isla del Coco, has only two seasons: wet & dry. Diving in the area is best during wet season, which starts in middle August.