South Pacific - Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s South Pacific region is the country’s greenest and most virgin territory. The always green jungle, small and isolated villages, and spectacular unexplored beaches make this region one of the most captivating frontiers.
The biological wealth of the parks, reserves and towns located in the South Pacific region surpasses any oil or gold reserve another country may have.
In Costa Rica, the jungle with its animal and plant inhabitants make up its largest asset. The extensive tropical rain forest of the south, particularly in the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park, still remains widely unknown to investigators.
Scientific research is being carried out frequently within the boundaries of this jungle that homes the amazing tapir or danta (the largest mammal in Latin America), several poisonous serpents and frogs, and a large variety of marine animals like sharks, dolphins and whales.
The area´s inhabitants, Costa Ricans and Indigenous groups such as the Boruca community who grew up among the forest are very protective of their natural resources and know of their protection is to human life. Therefore, the lodging and visiting options in these national parks are based on strict sustainable development and ecotourism principles aimed at producing the least impact on the natural habitat.
Culture is also found in the small villages of the South Pacific. Whether its seaside fishing villages or small communities tucked away in the mountains, the locals know and respect the values of nature.
The first habitants of the area, the Boruca indigenous community, have lived and walked through this jungle since pre-Colombian times. Although their activities have shifted throughout the centuries, today they are more ecotourism oriented and are taking advantage of their knowledge and traditions to share with the visitors.
The largest Boruca community is nestled on the outskirts of the Talamanca mountain range. Every year the locals celebrate nature with colorful parades and dances, using interesting wooden masks that have strong traditional meaning.
The Marino Ballena National Park is the departure point of this incredible adventure. After an interesting launch into the waves, the whale and dolphin tour heads straight to Whale Island, a perfect snorkeling spot. Here you can swim and observe multicolor fish and aquatic plants. After snorkeling, the tour will take you to a deserted beach on Violin Island on the north end of the Osa Peninsula. During this time you will be busy searching for whales and dolphins.
Near the coast, Ventanas beach is an amazing site with deep caves and rock arches above the water. There are several tour options in this area, however, Bahía Avetures, a local tourism company works with 100% local tour guides and captains from the nearby town of Uvita. Safety is their main concern, so you can relax and enjoy the tour.
Cocos Island, a spectacular World Heritage site, is located within Costa Rica’s marine area adding amazing flora and fauna to the country’s already large biodiversity.
Located 330 miles south of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, Cocos Island sustains 16% of the country’s known biodiversity. There are few places in the world that possess the climatic, terrestrial and marine conditions necessary to shelter a wide variety of plants and animals.
It’s geographic location, within the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Conservation Corridor (CMAR), a regional conservation and sustainability initiative, has favored the scientific study of its marine ecosystem; attracting major scientists and biologists from around the globe such as the renowned marine biologist Jacques Cousteau. As a matter of fact, during one of his visits to the island, Cousteau called it: “the most beautiful island in the world”.
This jewel of the Pacific Ocean is the only emerging point of the submarine Cocos Volcanic Range. Its coast and crystal clear waters are a gathering spot for innumerable migrant marine species of rays, sharks, dolphins, whales, turtles and birds, just to name a few.
In 1997, UNESCO declared Cocos Island a World Heritage Site. And today it has been nominated to be one of the Modern Natural Wonders of the World.
However, urgent movements and conservation strategies must be carried out to protect this natural wonder from over-exploitation of natural resources, particularly overfishing to satisfy the demands of the sushi industry, which are taking a high toll on the environment of the Island. Protecting this island must be a priority for all citizens of the world.