Cocos Island


Cocos Island National Park covers primarily a marine ecosystem, globally significant for sharks.

The park consists of Cocos Island and its surrounding marine zone. It is located in the Pacific Ocean 550km off the coast of Costa Rica. It is the point of land nearest to the Galapagos Islands, which lie 630km to the south-west.

The marine area is considered a safe haven because commercial fishing is not allowed. 300 species of fish are found, including large species such as sharks, rays, tuna and dolphins. This also makes it one of the best scuba diving spots in the world.

Cocos Island is uninhabited except for park rangers. It differs from neighbouring islands because it is not dry and barren, but covered with a humid tropical forest. It is also mountainous and there are many waterfalls. Although its ecosystem has been severely damaged by introduced species like pigs and rats, it still contains many endemic species (for example three species of endemic land birds).


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Site Info

Full name: Cocos Island National Park

Site History

  • 2002 - Extended

    Extension of marine zone
  • 1997 - Inscribed

    Reasons for inscription
  • 1986 - Rejected

    Does not meet criteria


The site has 1 locations.

  • Cocos Island


The site has 24 connections.


  • Notable Bridges Pancho Bridge
  • Prison AB: "The human historical record includes ... use of the island (1872-1874) as a prison"
  • Tunnels Over the years Gissler dug a complex system of underground tunnels there in his treasure hunting, some of which can still be entered even today.



  • Formerly inhabited islands August Gissler a German adventurer and treasure hunter was made "Governor" of Cocos Island by the Costa Rican government in 1897. Backed by Financiers who set up the "Cocos Plantation Company" he established a colony there together with "several settler families who also grew tobacco" (Wiki). Unsuccessful he eventually left the island in 1908.
  • Marine sites 977 sq kms M, 24 sq kms T
  • Pacific Ocean 
  • Uninhabited islands Only park rangers


  • Buried treasures The Treasure of Lima, en route by ship to Mexico in 1820, was stolen by the captain and his crew and was supposedly buried there. Since then, many searches have failed to discover it!

Human Activity

  • Piracy AB: "The human historical record includes pirates..."
  • Tobacco Several settler families who grew tobacco also lived with Gissler on the island.

Individual People

  • Jacques-Yves Cousteau "oceanographer Jacques Cousteau visited the island several times and in 1994 called it "the most beautiful island in the world"" (wiki)


  • Pliocene An Argon-Potassium radiometric determination established the age of the oldest rocks between 1.91 and 2.44 million years (Late Pliocene). Wiki


WHS on Other Lists

World Heritage Process