|Cano Island Biological Reserve|
|Costa Rica - Places to See|
About 12 miles (19 km) off-shore (45 minutes) from Costa Rica's south Pacific coast lies Caño Island Biological Reserve, one of the Osa Peninsula’s true gems. Year-round warm, clear waters are home to an abundance of marine life and offer some of Costa Rica’s best snorkeling and diving. From humpback whales and dolphins to marine turtles, sharks, manta rays and huge schools of fish, a casual day at the island is sure to please those in search of wildlife. Whether you are snorkeling or diving there is plenty to see!
The island itself is also known for its archaeological importance. Several stone spheres ranging in size from four inches up to twelve inches plus an assortment of other artifacts lends insight into the pre-Colombian inhabitants of this island.
In a Nut Shell...
Size: 300 land hectares; 5,400 marine hectares
Date of Creation: September 13, 1976
Cano Island is usually visited on a day tour from Drake Bay, Sierpe or Dominical. Tours depart in the morning and on the way to the island it is very common to encounter playful spotted, spinner, or bottlenose dolphins swimming along side or in front of the boat. Also, since these waters are known as a breeding and birthing ground for humpback whales, it is very common to see them almost every month of the year. The ocean waters near the reserve celebrate the longest humpback whale season in the world as whales from both the northern and southern hemisphere migrate here.
Tourists are offered the opportunity to snorkel or dive, or just relax on the beach. There is a trail that goes up to an overlook and to an archaeological site. A picnic lunch is included. Contact us help you plan an adventure.
NEW for 2010: Catamaran day trips to Cano Island! Contact us to learn more.
The island itself is the exposed part of an underwater mountain brought up by the ancient collision of two tectonic plates. Some believe this island was a commercial trading post on the Pacific Coast long before Christopher Columbus arrived on the scene. We do know that it was used as a cemetery during pre-Colombian times and that the artifacts found on the island date back to the Aguas Buenas (200-800 AC) y Chiriqui (800-1500 AC) periods.
The island originally got its name, 'isla de los caños', from the Spaniards who named it after the abundance of fresh water creeks, or caños in Spanish, on the island. Hence its modern day name 'Isla de Caño.'
Hot and Humid!
Average annual rainfall: 140-240 inches, Rain most days or afternoons (sometimes torrential) from April to December (September to November being the most intense)
Fees, Facilities & Trails:
The ranger station on the island is open for visitor attention daily from 8 am - 2pm. There is a picnic area, a fresh water shower and two restrooms on the island. New bathrooms are under construction.
Admission: $10 per person, per day; Diving is an additional $4 per person, per day.
There is no camping permitted on the island. All visits are for the day only.
Wildlife & Plants:
The waters are usually clear and warm and there is a plethora of marine life to be seen on snorkeling or diving adventures including: sea turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, star fish and numerous tropical fish including the king angel, moorish idol, puffers, surgeonfish, snapper, barracuda, barberfish, parrotfish, damsels and a variety of eels can be found hiding around the coral lined rock formations.
On land, the island is not especially rich in wildlife. There are about five mammalian species including agoutis (pacas) and a few species of opossum (including the four-eyed opossum) and bats. No poisonous snakes live on the island and there are several species of frogs and lizards, including the Jesus Christ lizard.
About 45 species of bird can be found on or near the island. Avian species include the hawks, fly catchers, doves, pelicans, red-legged honey creepers, hummingbirds, brown boobies, frigate birds and several other species of pelagic, migratory and song birds.
There is a common black hawk that live on the island affectionately named Reno. He (or she) is known for stealing food on the fly-by from unsuspecting tourist’s lunch plates. The funniest thing he ever stole was a beer bottle…. He carried about 50’ before dropping it. He continues to steal sandwiches and pieces of fruit.
There are about 37 species of trees such as ficus, rubber trees and cow trees (among others) and more than 150 plant species including ferns, heliconias, palms and others.
The beach in front of the ranger station is the only beach open to the public. If you have to cross over any rocks to get to a stretch of beach, then you are tresspassing. This island is a biological reserve meant for research and to protect the natural resources, so please do not explore out of bounds. There are plenty of nooks and crannies in between almond and rope trees so you can have privacy if you want, though you will find that there are plenty of hermit crabs cleaning the beach to keep you company.
That said, the beach in front of the island is the safest for swimming. About 20 feet off-shore is a great place to snorkel. Many of the other beaches have rougher currents and hidden rocks beneath the surface.
Diving and Snorkeling:
Caño Island has recently moved into the spotlight as one of the world’s best diving locations. The island is surrounded by volcanic formations and coral reefs, varying in size from 2 to 10 acres. The reefs around Cano Island have been classified as one of the most important marine environments in Costa Rica.
There are five species of hard coral and at least three species of soft coral, plus an astounding variety and population of marine life. Sometimes, the schools of fish are so big, that they literally block out the light from over-head.
Non-divers can enjoy the beautiful wonders of Caño Island too. Many of the same species of marine life seen diving can also be seen while snorkeling, including sharks. There are two main snorkeling spots, the 'Garden' and the 'Cave.' Snorkeling can be enjoyed just off the beach in front of the island too. Snorkelers must always have a life vest with them, even if its just strapped to your wrist. This is so that boats can see you, since when you are snorkeling you are face down, flat on the waters surface and difficult to see.
The island itself is covered by an evergreen forest with trees reaching heights of more than 50 meters. The center of the island features a plateau 100 meters high.
There is one main trail on the island. It goes up-hill steeply for about 20 minutes and then levels off, where the trail splits. One trail goes to a spectacular lookout and the other dead-ends at an archaeological site. Pre-Colombian artifacts such as small (12" or so in diameter) perfectly spherical stones and other ancient stone tools can be seen. The artifacts are believed to be from the indigenous Diquis tribe who inhabited the Golfo Dulce area until the arrival of the Spanish.
It is prohibited to carry backpacks due to problems of theft of the small archaeological remains.
A note about Caño Island!
It is a biological reserve! Please respect the law and do not collect or take anything from the island, including shells. This is strictly forbidden and if you do decide to sneak a piece, bad karma will follow you until you return it to the island. Please take home with you what you bring including all trash and plastic bottles. Leave only footprints and take nothing but pictures.
Please do not touch any coral or marine life.
If you are not an expert diver, please keep your distance from underwater rock and coral formations. They are very delicate.
If you must apply sunscreen (who doesn't?)... PLEASE apply it ONE hour before swimming so that it is well absorbed into your skin or consider wearing a long sleeve shirt instead. The chemicals in sunscreen damage coral and other sensitive marine life.
You must have a life vest with you at all times when snorkeling even if its just attached to your wrist. This includes snorkeling in front of the island. This is so that boats can see you, since when you are snorkeling you are face down, flat on the waters surface and difficult to see.
How do I Get There? ... On a Tour!
Contact us to book a tour from Drake Bay, Sierpe, Dominical or Puerto Jimenez.
Contact us for specific questions and help making reservations.
Nearby Parks & Attractions:
|Last Updated on Monday, 30 August 2010 16:25|