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A Hidden Paradise: Snorkeling Caño Island off Drake’s Bay

The “red tide” on Wednesday turned nearly crystal blue the following day. Like the weather, water clarity quickly changes at Caño Island off Drakes Bay. Billed as the second-best snorkeling location in Costa Rica, it is not in the ranks of top spots worldwide. But it is worth a look in the most biologically diverse place in the world.

A beach with a boat at the shore when snorkeling cano island.
Caño Island. The biological reserve only allows visitors on the beach.

While the Caribbean coast lives up to its claim to have more coral, the Pacific indeed has more fish. There are curious Hawksbill turtles, Stingrays, White-tipped reef sharks, and large schools of Jackfish.

A beach with logs and rocks.
Scenic beach. Everything is tropical above and below water.

The forty-five-minute boat ride from Drakes Bay is a shorter option than the ninety-minute ride from Uvita. If the swell is not flat be prepared for a pounding. There are frequent sightings of both Bottlenose and Spotted dolphins and, from July to October, Humpback whales.

A school of jackfish.
Dismissed. Jackfish are found throughout the Pacific Ocean in tropical areas.

The island and surrounding reef are a protected reserve that recently allows visitors on a single beach of this Jurassic Park inspiring island. The beachfront tide pools are a haven for tiny young fish, and the surrounding rocks are home to giant three-inch limpets.

Big limpets on rocks by the ocean.
Big limpets. In or out of the water they would make a meal that is tasty and good for you.

As with other national parks in this “rich coast” country, they emphasize reusable water bottles and prohibit disposable plastic bags, but there is no word about reef-safe sunscreens. Maybe because they don’t sell it here, so bring your own.

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Hi. We are Paul and Cindy, two biologists, fit and over 50, who enjoy exploring, photographing, and blogging about our outdoor travel. Our journey is to find outdoor activities that are away from crowds, kind to nature, and authentic. We carry backpacks, stay in clean accommodations, and feel that good food is as important as good friends.

The African savanna with three acacia trees.
Amazon Jungle
Costa Rica

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