Caño Island Biological Reserve


Drake bay offers many great ways to experience sea life including Caño Island Biological Reserve known for its schooling pelagic. It is located 12 miles off the west coast of Drake Bay. It is constitute by a block of basalt formed in the Eocene period. It is estimated to be 50 to 60 million years old and has risen due to the subduction, or sinking, of the Cocos tectonic plate beneath the Caribbean tectonic plate along the Middle American Trench. At its highest peak the island reaches 110 meters and most of its coastline corresponds to cliffs that are in the process of erosion and development which are up to 70 meters in height. The beaches are small; slightly more than 100 meters in length of white sand and in many cases they nearly disappear at high tide.

The plateau which stands about 90 metes high is covered by an evergreen forest of large and tall trees. The forest is mainly composed of Baco trees (Brosimum utile), which also known as the milk trees because of the white latex is looking substance that oozes from it. You may drink this substance!  It is believed that these giant trees were once an orchard planted by indigenous people. To date there are 158 recognized and recorded species of plants on the island. Although wildlife on the island is sparse various birds such as Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster), and Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), etc. may be seen there. Etymologists have identified 5 beetle, 4 butterfly, 2 moth, and 7 bee species. Among the mammals that have been observed on the island are the Four-Eyed Opossum (Philander opossum) along with several species of rats and mice. Among the species of amphibians and reptiles are the transparent frog (Centrolenella Fleishmann) and the Boa (Boa constrictor).

Caño Island was named for its waterfalls by Juan de Castañada, Spanish explorer who visited the island in 1519.  Indigenous people appear to have lived on the island until 500 year ago, and it was also possibly used a pre-Columbian cemetery. Artifacts found there include stone spheres, gold offerings, and polychrome pottery, as well as tombs guarded by the stone statues.   A real beauty of Caño Island is not above the surface of the water but under it. The pristine waters around this island are among the bluest in the country and are home to a spectacular variety of flora and fauna as well as the glorious coral reefs. There is some of the best scuba diving in the pacific cost of Costa Rica. While snorkeling or diving at Cano Island you will see a wide variety of fish, whales, and sharks as well. 

Around the island are 5 platforms or low coral reefs among which we can distinguish 15 species of scleractinian corals (Scleractinia, also called stony corals, are exclusively marine animals; they are very similar to sea anemones but generate a hard skeleton). The most typically stony corals are:  Lobe coral (Porites lobata), Massive coral (pavona clavus), Branching coral (Pocillopora elegans), and Orange cup coral (Tubastrea coccinea).

Marine life species found in the waters surrounding the island are the lobster (Panulirus sp) and the giant conch (Strombus galiatus). With fantastic underwater visibility, any day one may see turtles, dolphins, stingrays, manta rays, moray eels, barracuda, tuna, snappers, and grouper swimming alongside a variety of sharks, humpback whales, a lot different kind of reef fish, and etc.  

Pacific coral reefs are relatively small and less diverse than the healthier, hard-to –find reefs on the Caribbean side.  Yet because of its pristine waters and intact reef, the tropical island is one of the best dive sites in Costa Rica.  The reefs of Caño Island, Corcovado, Guanacaste, and Manuel Antonio National Park are now the only sources of coral larvae and juveniles for Pacific Costa Rica reefs, affected by deforestation, which caused damage by increasing runoff.  The silt clogs the coral and blocks light, which kills the coral.

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