Only accessible by liveaboard, Cocos Island Marine Park, located 340 miles offshore of Costa Rica, is worth the 36-hour voyage for the world’s largest aggregation of scalloped hammerheads.
The marine park has only one landmark, Cocos
Island, which acts as a meeting point for converging
nutrient-rich deep ocean currents. The result? Some of the best
predator viewing in the world, from regular sightings of scalloped
hammerhead sharks, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, bottlenose dolphins,
whitetip reef sharks, Galapagos, silky and tiger sharks (we could
go on) to the occasional whale shark and manta ray.
Strong ocean currents and surge mean trips are only reserved for
advanced divers, which last between eight and ten days. There are
20 dive sites in a relatively compact area surrounding the island,
which range from boulders, seamounts and pinnacles to deep blue
ocean dives. Bajo Alcyone is the jewel in the crown for the
hundreds of scalloped hammerheads which gather between June and
September. For a truly original experience, become an aquanaut
exploring 300 metres deep in a Deep Sea Submersible, looking out
for weird and wonderful (and often unidentified) creatures.
Above water, Cocos Island is the only island in the Eastern
Tropical Pacific with tropical rainforest which, coupled with its
remoteness, has resulted in somewhat of a biological enigma.
Venture onto the island to hike slopes cloaked in wild, untamed
jungle, looking out for a wealth of endemic species, including the
Cocos Island cuckoo and, according to folklore, hidden treasure -
the island itself was a refuelling point for pirates.