By the time you read this we will be hundreds of miles off the coast of Costa Rica on board a live aboard dive boat called the M/V Argo (operated by Undersea Hunter) in the Pacific Ocean near Cocos Island National Park where, with any luck, we will find ourselves in the water surrounded by hammerhead sharks.
Cocos Island is the largest uninhabited island in the world and one of the most remote national parks in the world. The island is mostly rainforest covered (the only rainforest in the Pacific) and boasts more than 300 waterfalls, some plunging directly into the ocean.
Cocos Island is also said to be the site of buried treasure, perhaps as much as a billion dollars worth. Pirates used Cocos as a sort of bank before the Costa Rican government took it over in the late 1800s. A few people have actually managed to get permission to search the island for the treasure—one man spent 19 years and millions of dollars but couldn’t find a penny.
Jurassic Park is said to have been based on a landscape inspired by Cocos Island. Treasure Island may have also been based on Cocos Island. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited Cocos Island three times and Jacques Cousteau called Cocos “the most beautiful island in the world” then he carved some graffiti into a rock on the shore and left.
That’s all well and good but what we’re interested in are what dive geeks call pelagics–large rays and sharks. The waters around Cocos Island have the densest concentration of large marine predators including silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, reef sharks and more hammerheads than anywhere else in the world. Enormous manta rays and whale sharks are also seen here.
As if that’s not enough adrenaline, we may also get a submarine ride in the Undersea Hunter DeepSee submersible which takes two people at a time down to depths of 300, 700, or even 1,000 feet. It’s darker down there and the marine life gets weirder and weirder the deeper you go.
Here’s a video about Cocos Island from the UNESCO YouTube channel.
Here’s more about travel in Costa Rica