Cocos Island National Park Attractions Parque Nacional Isla del Coco
Cocos Island lies over 500km/310mi southwest of Costa Rica in the Pacific Ocean. The island measures 7.5km/4.6mi in length and 4km/2.5mi in length, and the highest point on Cocos is Yglesias Mountain at 634m/2,080ft. The entire island is designated as a national park and protects a unique ecosystem found on Cocos.Although isolated, Cocos Island has been noted on maps since 1541. The wetness of the island (6,000 to 7,000mm annual rainfall) has long attracted sailors, pirates and whalers who would stop on Cocos for fresh water. A unique ecosystem evolved on Cocos Island because of its isolation, and at least 70 species of plants and 70 species of animals and insects are found nowhere else in the world. 80 bird species have been recorded in the park, and many colonies of seabirds nest on the island.Both the Cocos Island cuckoo and Cocos Island flycatcher are endemic species. The Cocos Island finch is also endemic, but belongs to the endemic species of finches discovered by Darwin on the Galápagos Islands. However, the Cocos Island finch was discovered 60 years after Darwin visited the Galápagos. Two species of endemic lizards are also found on Cocos, as well as varied marine life such as several species of tropical fish, sea turtles and coral reefs.Diving and snorkelling are excellent in the waters surrounding Cocos and are the main activities for visitors. The island is covered by thick rainforest and features 200 waterfalls, most of them dropping off into the sea. The island is uninhabited, and since the animals have evolved without predators they are not afraid of humans. Fairy terns have been known to hover around people curiously.There are several legends about buried treasure on Cocos Island but nothing has ever been found. The late 19th and early 20th C saw unsuccessful attempts for colonization on the island, and when the people departed they left behind a large population of feral animals. These rats, cats, goats and especially pigs are threatening the unique ecosystem on Cocos Island. Cocos is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site.