I’ve got the incredible opportunity to volunteer on Isla del Coco for 3 1/2 weeks. Isla del Coco a tiny remote Pacific island, located about 350 miles SW of Costa Rica and 600 miles north of the Galapagos. It’s a Costa Rican National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and It’s also one of the top diving destination in the world.
As you can imagine my excitement had been building ever since Georgia from Go Pro Costa Rica, asked me if I wanted to go to Isla del Coco. Really it’s something that I have been dreaming about for years…..the sharks, world class diving, the mystery of the remote island, pirates….
I’m now 1 week into the adventure, but it all began at the UnderSea Hunter Dock in Puntarenas, on the central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. I was to be travelling aboard the Sea Hunter one of their of 2 liveaboard vessels taking dive tourists on 7-10 day voyages to the Isla del Coco.
The journey takes 36 hours hours; I spent my time on board, chatting to the crew about their tales of Coco and life at sea, swapping dive stories with the 20 adventure seeking tourists, and chatting to my room mate, Roberto Cubero, a Park Guard on Isla del Coco, with whom I would be working closely on the Sustainable Marine Tourism Project.
We arrived at the Island before dawn, and at first light I was out on deck to get my first peak of the island. It’s steep and rocky coastline appearing impenetrable in the dark mist.
A small inflatable arrived to take Roberto and I to the Island, my home for the next 3 weeks. The National Park Head Quarters and Ranger Station is in Wafer Bay. The base is quite small with an office, dive and boat storage, accommodation buildings, kitchen and dining area. It’s located close to the beach with amazing art on lots of the buildings, much done by Carlos Hiller; a Costa Rican artist famous for his marine art and love of the Ocean.
There are 10 Park Rangers and Scientists currently working on the Island, this fluctuates with departures and arrivals of Rangers and Scientists that travel on the liveaboards.
I met with Roberto and he showed what areas of the Sustainable Marine Tourism project I would be working on, the project in short is to protect the pristine environment of Coco. They are carefully monitoring all tourism, and this week, I would be particularly looking at the interactions between divers and key species, and the physical contact of divers with the reef, either intentional or unintentional.
Everything sounded amazing, I just wanted to get in the water! Bring on the scuba diving!