I feel it is my obligation to post Costa Rica's hotspots for future visitors. For those of you who have come and have left satisfied, I hope it brings back memories. I don´t have much time and type slowly so here´s what I´ll do: comment on each one on different posts. As I am practically an amateur I shall describe even places I haven't visited, which doesn't mean you should miss out on them. Contributions and questions welcome!
I´ll start with one of the rarest, least visited ones. Of course I've never been there, it´s out of my budget, and will be for years to come. Cocos Island, in the Pacific Ocean, is located 1000km south of Costa Rica's mainland, about 6°N, 87°. Our property since the mid-19th century, it is a national park that includes the waters around it, and is also a World Heritage and Ramsar Site. Thanks to this tiny island, Costa Rica is the largest country in Central America (649.782 km2) when the oceanic territory is considered (598.682 km2)! The island is supposed to be heavenly, has more rainfall than the mainland, covered by tropical forest. Has two bays where boats can dock, the rest of the coast is cliffs from which waterfalls pour into the ocean. Some more info at:
The trip there lasts aprox. 36 hours by boat and costs around $1500-$2000, parts from Puntarenas. A good chance to watch pelagic species of the Pacific that don´t even nest in Costa Rica. Includes various storm-petrels, shearwaters, jaegers. If you scuba dive, the trip is definitely worth it, since a great deal of ocean diversity is present.
The terrestrial bird diversity there is not as great as on the mainland, but what is very interesting is the small list of endemics. Includes the Cocos Finch, part of the family Darwin famously studied, although he didn't visit this far away cousin. Also the furtive Cocos Cuckoo (Coccyzus ferrugineus) and Cocos Flycatcher (Nesotriccus ridgwayi), all three considered endagered by the UICN. Also important a Yellow Warbler subspecies, the Cocos Warbler, Dendroica petechia aureola, same bird but larger with a rufous cap, also present in the Galapagos.
The Great Frigatebird (Fregata minor) also nests here, a beautiful rarity, since its cousin the Magnificent is the only one present on our mainland.
Finally, for those interested in stamp collecting, Costa Rica's Post Office issued last June a beautiful edition of stamps and first-day envelopes dedicated to Cocos Island. The stamps feature a panoramic view of part of Cocos, the envelopes a Great Frigatebird, with an endemic lizard postmark. Not the first issue on the island and birds, in the 80's there was one featuring the endemics (don´t have it, also an amateur at stamps).
Personally, I believe owning the island is a privilege and a great responsibility. Hope you like the info, if anybody has been out there, please tell us how it went!
PS: I'm interested in another mystery island, France´s Clipperton Island, off the Pacific coast of Mexico, about 10°N, 110°W. Anybody has any info?