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Isla del Coco

The Isla del Coco is an island in the Pacific Ocean that belongs to the republic of Costa Rica. It was discovered in 1526 by the Spanish sailor Juan Cabezas. The island is a national park and located about 532 km away from the Costa Rican coast. Its coordinates are 05°31′N 87°04′O5.517, - 87.067. Its surface area is of 23,85 km² and measures 7,5 km of length and 4,4 km of wideness, its form is more or less rectangular. The island is one of the 13 districts of the canton of Puntarenas (central canton) of the province of Puntarenas. The station of ¨Guardaparques Wafer¨ is situated in the bay o f ¨Wafer¨ in the north of the island. The journey by boat from Puntarenas will take about 36 hours.

For its size, isolation and state of conservation, the Isla del Coco represents one of the privileged natural places worldwide. With an important endemism and a singular biological diversity, the island can be cataloged as an ideal natural laboratory to realize investigations about the evolution of the species and for the monitoring of the ambience on a long-term basis.

Of the 235 species of already identified plants, 70 are endemic and of 362 insects, 64 are endemic. There are a species of an endemic lizard and another one of an endemic salamander. Furthermore 3 species of spiders are registered; 85 species of birds, 4 of them endemic; 57 species of crustacean; 118 species of mollusks; more than 200 species of fish and 18 species of corals.

The results of the investigations may provide important information about the dynamic of the ecosystems of the planet and its relation to the global changes of the maritime and terrestrial climate. From this we conclude its huge importance for humanity.
Considering these exceptional natural characteristics of this insular territory, the government of Costa Rica created in 1978 the national park of the Isla del Coco, which previously was declared core of the maritime conservation area of the same name. For the same reasons of singularity, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the site a World Natural Heritage in 1997. Likewise, in 1998, it was declared wetland of international importance under the International Convention of Ramsar (Iran) of 1991.

In 1995, within the scope of the studies of a ¨system of representative protected areas of the world¨, realized by the authority of the maritime park of the Great Barrier Reef (Australia), the World Bank and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in the maritime region of the South Pacific, it was agreed on giving highest priority to the Isla del Coco, in order to receive support for its administration and conservation.

Likewise the island is the core area of the bioregion Isla del Coco, defined and delimited in 1999 and declared by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Biodiversity Support Program (BSP), which is a consortium formed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), as priority for the maritime conservation.
On October the 11.th, 2002, the Costa Rican government declared the Isla del Coco a historical architectonic heritage of Costa Rica.
This declaration is due to the high historical and cultural value which the Isla del Coco holds for the Costa Ricans and the whole world, elaborated since the 18.th century through the visit and continuance of groups of people coming from different places and with different purposes.

The inscriptions in the rocks of the bays of Chatham and Wafer, as well as the other cultural remains which can be found on the island, are heritage of the history of this place, giving it an exceptional value which deserves to be protected and conserved in order to remain for the joy of the present and future generations.

The condition of the Isla del Coco as a site of world heritage and a national park, obligates the government to protect all the existent values, the natural ones as well as the historic and cultural ones.

This declaration prohibits the demolition of the edifices and the alteration of the elements with historic and cultural value, and likewise their partially or complete reconfiguration, without previous authorization of the Center for Investigation and Conservation of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

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