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  • Writer's pictureKatrina Julia

Snorkeling in Cano Island, Costa Rica: Imagining Jurassic Park with Tropical Escapade

Updated: Sep 5, 2021

Cano Island is considered by many to be the most beautiful snorkeling and diving in Costa Rica and in the world. So, when I decided to travel to Costa Rica again, and Tropical Escapade invited me to experience snorkeling in Cano Island, I said YES please!

For years, I have seen pictures of Cano Island Biological Reserve. The reality of snorkeling among the bright blue waters, picturesque island, and coral reefs far outweighs any photography or video you will ever lay eyes on.

Although Coco Island is where the intro of Isla Nublar for Jurassic Park was filmed, Cano Island has you step back in time as well. Cano Island is an incredibly beautiful island in the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica that has you imagining Jurassic Park.

I want to thank Cindy and her team with Tropical Escapade, Osa Green Travel, and Rancho Tropical for every second of the adventure!

On Tuesday, August 17, 2021, during my travel to 7 Continents, I woke up in Drake Bay for sunrise and set out for my snorkeling adventure.

I felt gratitude to infinity marveling as I compared 2021 to 2020, and experiencing travel to Costa Rica for the third time. In 2016, I led our first transformation retreat in Playa del Coco in Guanacaste, earlier in 2021 I visited La Fortuna, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, and San Jose, and now I am exploring the Osa Peninsula.

I not only dreamed about visiting Cano Island in Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula, I co-created it.

Cano Island Costa Rica

Isla del Caño

Cano Island is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque island I have ever laid eyes on. The unimaginably lush Costa Rican island covers 1.9 square miles is a protected reserve of the Osa Conservation Area. The Costa Rican government decided to preserve its rich biodiversity and history.

As a result, we could snorkel all around it, but not step foot on the island itself adding to its mystique and mystery. Don't we all love to experience things that are exclusive and special in some way?

Speaking of special, Cano Island is 9 short miles from the coast of Corcovado National Park, named by National Geographic as the "most biologically intense place on earth".

Cano Island Highlights

Cano Island is called the Amazon of the ocean for great reason. It is a world famous playground for archaeologists, biologists, and conservationists. Some excavations by archaeologists on the island include pottery and stone artifacts placed from indigenous cultures.

During pre-Columbian time, the island used to be an Indian cemetery. According to studies, there is speculation that it may have provided an important international trading site.

This extremely remote rainforest thrives on very high trees, >150 species of plants and birds, and a wide variety of wildlife. On the island, you may find possums, transparent tree frogs, boa constrictors, rats, bats and lizards to name a few.

Isla del Caño treasures are not only above ground by far. The underwater treasures boasts majestic coral reef gardens. The island’s emerald waters evoke a sense of wonder by swimming alongside schooling fish just over the ocean floor.

Visitors may find that visibility is near-perfect during the months of January, February, March and April. The sunlit tropical waters shimmer with large living creatures including manta rays, sea turtles, moray eels, bottlenose dolphins and sharks.

Exploring a myriad of coral reefs teeming with a collection of tropical fish in shallow depths is an absolute dream come true. You may find lobster, turtles, and sharks as well!

My Experience at Cano Island

My adventure began in Drake Bay, Costa Rica where I met with my guides to start on my adventure to Cano Island. I arrived surprised both the snorkeling and scuba boats were full!

If you didn't know, I am an advanced certified scuba diver. Although I could have dived, after traveling for three days between buses, planes, and a boat, I decided to take it easy and snorkel.

With all the travel, I didn't want to add doing a refresher dive to my list right now since I haven't dived for 3 years as well as carrying the equipment. In addition, the Pacific Ocean is known to be a bit cooler in temperature and I am cold natured. I am so glad I did! I so enjoyed my snorkeling adventure, and the two stops we did!

Right from the start, I connected with our sailing captain and guides, and with several of the others on our snorkel boat. I met Magda and her daughter Nikki from Poland, and got to practice Polish! If you didn't know, I am half Polish!

I made fast friends with a couple from Germany, Melody and her husband. I connected with a couple from Madrid, Rucci and Raquel.

Whale Season in Costa Rica Osa Peninsula

Before I came to Costa Rica this time, I learned via My Tan Feet about humpback whales. While I had high hopes I would see them with the best times to spot them being January, February, July, August, and September, I knew there are no guarantees.

The more I learn, the more I learn I don't know. I found out during the Northern Hemisphere winter (December to March), humpback whales that feed on the Northwest coast of the United States migrate to Costa Rica's tropical waters to mate, give birth, and nurse their young.

These are the times they come to breed and raise their young so these months are the best time to go on a Costa Rica whale watching tour!

Imagine my awe and wonder when I didn't just see schools of fish, turtle, incredible landscapes, AND 5 Humpback whales after leaving Cano Island on our way back to Drake Bay!

Humpback Whales near Cano Island in Costa Rica

A Whale of a Time at Cano Island!!

What an AMAZING ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE AT Cano Island!!! We absolutely had a WHALE OF TIME + Spotted 5 Humpback Whales!!! - Right from the start, Cindy with Tropical Escapade and Osa Green Travel made booking super easy!!! The day of the tour, I arrived at Drake Bay early in the morning waiting with others, the guides arrived on time and started helping us all easily! Our experience was magical starting with about an hour ride across the ocean with our first stop for about an hour which I loved - I saw blue puffer fish, yellow fish and more!! Our visibility was great for about 10-20 feet even with the rain the day before!! It is well worth the experience!! Before our second stop, we had fresh watermelon, cookies and water! So awesome! The second stop by lots of rocks. I saw a turtle, puffer fish, and more! So incredible! Many of us on the boat connected - I met a family from Poland, family from Barcelona and more! We also swam for awhile. I got out a bit early because I got cold without a wetsuit. On our way back, we had pineapple, cookies and water as well!

Everything already so magical + yet it got more magical! We had such a surprise on the way back, we saw 5 humpback whales!!!

They put on a whole show for us coming up and down for over an hour!!! The lunch at La Chosa amazing!! Right when we walked in, they had the food ready.

We pre ordered what we wanted on the boat. It was awesome to walk in and have food.

I had the Ceviche with the Patocones - OMG to die for!

I LOVED the Sandia (Watermelon) Juice. - I highly recommend adding Cano Island to your travel to Costa Rica!

Cano Island Snorkeling Costs

For up to date, Cano Island Tour Costs visit Tropical Escapade.

Getting to Drake Bay

Since Cano island is a protected biological reserve, the closest place to go to is Drake Bay.

Getting there is quite the adventure, let me tell you!

Initially, I debated either flying from San Jose after landing from Mexico with a connecting flight. The layover time is less than 2 hours so I felt a bit concerned. In addition, I learned about the adventurous and less expensive way to get to Drake Bay by going by bus and boat. I decided to go this way!

After spending the night at an Airbnb in San Jose, I took a direct bus at 8:30 am with Tracopa from San Jose to Sierpe for about $12 USD. Once we got to Sierpe, I took the 4pm boat ($20 USD) from Sierpe to Drake Bay that literally takes you to the shore! What an adventure! Due to the rain, we got to pack our luggage in trash bags to prevent water from seeping into our bags!

Cano Island: Snorkeling in Costa Rica Osa Peninsula

Visiting Cano Island is a dream come true in every way!

I am so grateful to have visited Cano Island, snorkeled, and seeing whales in 2021!

It is magical and mystical, and well worth the visit in every way.

I definitely rate Cano Island as a must see and do in Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica!

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