Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica

Cocos Island, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica

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Cocos Island (Isla del Coco) is a fairy-tale island in the Pacific Ocean administered by Costa Rica. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre site, with legends of treasures buried there. (None have ever been found!) It’s the only island in the eastern Pacific with a rainforest. Cocos Island is approximately 550 km (342 mi; 297 mi) southwest of the Costa Rican mainland. With an area of approximately 23.85 km2 (9.21 sq mi), the island is the southernmost point of the North American continent when its islands are included. Cocos Island is the only spot above sea level in Cocos Ridge, a row of sunken volcanoes that run along Costa Rica to the north of the Galapagos Islands. The island is has emerged from volcanic eruption and its mineral-rich soil supports the tropical lowland ecosystem and a cloud forest. The entirety of Cocos Island has been designated a Costa Rican National Park and has no permanent inhabitants. Only Costa Rican park rangers are based there. CN Traveler rated it as a world-class diving destination where you can spot hammerhead sharks, giant manta rays, sea turtles, and dolphins. Surrounded by deep waters with counter-currents, the wet climate and oceanic qualities give Cocos an ecological character that is truly unique as compared to the Galápagos Archipelago or any of the other islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean. It is Costa Rica’s most isolated and uninhabited national park and can only be accessed via a 36-hour boat ride. © iStock/Divepic Cocos

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