While a surprising number of people think that Costa Rica is itself an island, it is actually home to quite a few islands. Many of the islands of Costa Rica are uninhabited nature reserves, national parks, and sea bird sanctuaries. There are also a few that are home to indigenous tribes and local fishing communities. There are multiple tours and boat trips available for those interested in checking out some of these beautiful tropical islands. Here’s what you need to know about Costa Rica’s most famous islands.
The Bat Islands are part of the Santa Rosa National Park in northern Guanacaste. These islands are especially famous for their bull shark populations, among other predatory marine life. While this is not a novice diving spot, for more experienced and adventurous divers, the Bat Islands should definitely make your scuba diving destination bucket list. The marine part of the Santa Rosa National Park is also home to humpback whales, pilot whales, dolphins, rays, and sea turtles.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
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The Catalina Islands are only 30 minutes from Playa Ocotal in northern Guanacaste. This uninhabited rocky archipelago offers some of the best scuba diving in this part of Costa Rica. They are especially famous for their frequent population of giant manta rays. It is also likely that you will encounter sharks, eels, turtles, and enormous schools of tropical fish. If you are not a scuba diver, you can snorkel or Snuba-dive these islands, too.
The islands in the Gulf of Nicoya
The Gulf of Nicoya is home to upwards of a dozen named islands. The most popular islands to visit are Isla Tolinga, the main island of the Tortuga Islands, and Isla San Lucas, home to an infamous old prison and beautiful nature reserve. Isla Chira is the second largest island in Costa Rica and is inhabited by about 3,500 fishermen and farmers. The Negritos Islands, Guayaboo, and Pajaros are off limits to visitors because they are protected as seabird sanctuaries. Snorkeling, kayaking, catamaran cruises, and island tours are readily available to those who want to check out some of these beautiful spots.
Caño Island Biological Reserve
Caño Island Biological Reserve is located just off the coast near Drake Bay in the southern Pacific region of Costa Rica. A 45-minute boat ride from the coast will take you to an exquisite scuba diving and snorkeling destination. Whale sharks, dolphins, rays, whales, sharks, turtles, and more tropical fish than you can imagine frequent the waters around this island and reserve. You can also set foot on Caño Island and explore its pristine beaches and forests.
On the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, just three kilometers off the coast of Limón, is Isla Uvita. Christopher Columbus actually first reached this island in 1502 and named it La Huerta. This small island is an important nesting site for the rare and beautiful hawksbill sea turtle, as well as home to the brown bobby and many other sea birds. A beautiful coral reef surrounds this island, which makes it an incredible diving spot, too.
Bird Island is a small mangrove island in the Tempisque River in the Palo Verde National Park. This unique island is a safe haven for an astonishing diversity of tropical wetland birds. Many of the Tempisque River resident birds nest on this island. A guided boat tour through Palo Verde National Park is a bird lover’s dream excursion, and this island is definitely a bird lover’s dream scene. You can also expect to see a large concentration of crocodiles, iguanas, and small mammals on your tour.
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