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Isla del Caño
General information


Caño’s Island Biologic Rseserve is located in the Pacific Ocean, northeast from the Corcovado National Park in the Osa Peninsula, at about 311km from San Jose and 20 km from the coast (San Pedrillo Station).
Conservation Area:
Osa Conservational Area (ACOSA)
300 land hectares and 5800 marine hectares
8:00am to 3:00pm
When to go?

Dry season: January to March
Humpback Whale migratory season: July to February

Conatct information
Regional Office:
(00506) 2256-0917
Send mail
Web Page:
Visit Wen Page
¢no pagan / free
$no pagan / free
Camping permissions:
General information
It is visited by the humpback whales and by the migratory birds, it is also home of the coral colonies and of a great marine biodiversity. It is an ideal place for practicing sea diving and a sacred place for Pre-Columbus populations.

The Caño’s Island Biologic Reserve is a beautiful island located at 110m over the sea level with white sanded beaches and an irregular coast of 10km long with cliffs that can measure 60m high from where rivers fall down right to the sea. Its biggest beach measures 400m and is possible that during the high tie some of them submerge.
Under the water, it has walls made of sediment rocks from 4 to 25m deep that serves as a base for the coral colonies, reason why the island is surrounded by 5 platforms of coral reefs (more than 12 species) like the brain coral, coral head and sea fan. These colonies homes marine species like fish and crustaceans.
Its fauna is mainly of bugs and some amphibian and reptile species. This island is used by migratory birds that move to the north during winter seeking tropical weather. Between the months of July and February the humpback whales migrate to the island seeking for warmer waters for giving birth and breastfeeding their babies.
The Caño’s Island Biologic Reserve is also a place of great archeological importance because it was used by Pre-Columbus populations as a graveyard and as a sacred place. It is possible to watch the perfect round spheres made by the natives influenced by South America.
According to geomorphology researches made to the Caño’s Island it is known that this was formed around 50 million years ago due to the tectonic plate movement.

It has an annual precipitation between the 4000 and 5000mm.
Average temperature: 26 - 28C
Dry season: January to March
Rain Season: April to December

It protects approximately 158 plant species including ferns, aroids, helicons and bejucos. The island is covered by the always green tropical rain forest. There are also some flora species brought like the mangos, cashew, oranges, guava and banana.
It has trees that can reach the 50m high like the “milk” tree (because it releases a white liquid), also other species such as the guapinol, higueron, cacao, rubber and garumo. It is common to observe epiphyte plants like the bromelias and orchids.

In the Caño’s Island Biologic Reserve there have been documented 31 bird species; land birds like the great black hawk, Pale-vented Pigeon, Red-necked Phalarope or the Clay-colored Thrush (national bird) and marine birds like the frigate bird, osprey, brown pelican and brown booby.
The high salt level from the island doesn’t allow a great number of amphibians or reptiles (there are only around 4 amphibian species and 9 reptile species), nevertheless, we can find boas, savanna snake, parrot snake and the sea poison; frogs and lizards.
Among the insect species that we can find in Caño’s Island there are 5 beetle species, 4 day butterflies, 2 night butterflies and 7 bee species.
On its waters lives sharks like the whitetip shark, turtles, eels, common dolphins and bottlenosed, rays, sperm whale, pilot whale and the humpback whale (in danger of extinction). It also has 7 fresh water fish species.
It protects 19 species of coral reefs that serves as shelters for fish, starfish, sea urchins and about 60 mollusk species like the cambute (in danger of extinction) and crustaceans like the lobster.

Services and facilities on the Park
Natural trails
Camping areas
Forest ranger station
Fresh water
Diving areas

Inside the Park:
Observe the humpback whales (together with their babies) during its migratory season
Observe the migratory birds
Practice snorkel and sea diving
Natural trails
Meet the Pre-Columbus sacred place

Outside the Park
Visit the Corocvado National Park

Isla del Caño
  • Recomendations
  • Interesting data
Tips para el viajero
Access recommendations:
Schedule: 8:00am to 3:00pm

Clothes and equipment recommendations:
Bring comfortable and fresh shoes and clothes
Bring swimming suit, binoculars and camera
Bring repellent, sunglasses and lotion

Lodge recommendations:
There are camping areas

Responsible tourist recommendations:
Prohibit to disturb the flora or fauna
Keep in the trails for avoiding the erosion caused by the human traffic
Report to the authorities any damage to the environment

Fauna recommendations:
Despite of the biodiversity some animals are rare to see because of their night, reproductive and migratory habits
Prohibit to feed the animals:
It affects their food habits and can cause severe digestive problems
The human beings can carry harmful bacteria for the wild fauna
It can cause an aggressive behavior
It increases the human dependency, decreasing their survival habits
This contact makes easier to be hunted
Humpback whales migration: July to February

Diving recommendations:
There is only allowed a maximum of 10 persons in the 5 different diving areas open to the public
Prohibit to remove any marine object, death or alive (like corals or shells)
On the island you can be part of a boat group to Drake’s Bay or Dominical
Near the corals:
Protect the reefs as you swim or dive
Prohibit to walk, step or hit the corals
Practice previously your floating control in the diving
Do not drag the pressure gauge or other equipment
Prohibit to touch, pick, hold or remove any animal from the reefs
Near the whales:
Keep always visible by getting close ALWAYS by a side of them, never by the front or back
Keep at about 100m from the whales
Move at the same speed and direction than the whales and avoid fast movements
Keep at minimum the noise
Do not remain for more than 30 minutes on the whale area
Be respectful towards the other observers, move away from the sight area for the others to come close

Datos interesantes
Datos interesantes:

Native relics:

The archeological importance of Caño’s Island is that it was used as a native graveyard. There have been found ceramic pieces and cut stones, including the round spheres that are found in the town of Diquis.

The most abundant ceramics belong to the years 220-800 known as the Aguas Buenas and in the years 1000-1550 known as Chiriqui.
Besides, we can find the ceramic remains from the Medium Polychrome period from Guanacaste, they suggest that the island was a trading point from the Pacific Coast.
From the native remains we can find spheres, tombs with stone statues, gold tributes like ceramics and artifacts utilized on the agriculture.


In 1519 the Caño’s Island was visited by the Spanish marine Juan de Castañeda, also was in this epoch that it was inhabited by the natives.

Between the XVII and XVIII centuries it was a shelter for the pirates that navigate along the Pacific Coast.
In 1940 the United Fruit Company that had spread for all over Central America built on the island a house and a lighthouse that worked as to 1961. Nowadays, in here only live members from the National Park Service.

Name origin

The Caño’s Island has a great variety of small rivers and streams that falls right into the ocean. To this type of rivers, the Spanish men used to call as “caños” (meaning sewers). This was the reason why the first Spanish in visit the island named it as Caño’s Island (Isla del Caño).

Isla del Caño
como llegar?
How to get there?
By bus:
You must take the bus that leads to Paso Canoas and that makes the stop at Palmar Norte. In here take another bus service to Sierpe where you must take a boat that passes through the mangroves and then enter to open sea until arriving to the Caño’s Island Biologic Reserve.
1. Tracopa (La Uruca, San Jose)
Web page: http://www.tracopacr.com/rutas.html
Phone: 2221-4214/ 2258-8939
2. Bus from Palmar Norte to Sierpe
From Palmar Norte to Sierpe: 6:00 am, 9:00am, 11:30am, 2:00pm and 5:00pm
From Sierpe to Palmar Norte: 10:00am, 1:00pm, 4:00pm and 5:00pm
3. Boats to Caño’s Island: boats leave every day but the schedule changes depending on the tides

Drive by the Interamericana Road, passing by San Isidro del General, then by Dominical by the Costanera Route (Route #34) and finally to Palmar Norte. After the bridge over the Terraba River, take the right turn, passing by the banana and palm plantations until arriving to the town of Sierpe (approx. duration 5 hours). In Sierpe you can leave your car at one of the local parking lots and take a boat to Caño’s Island passing by the mangroves.

Other kind of transportation
To Drake’s Bay:
From Drake’s Bay you must hire a boat service to Caño’s Island


Isla del Caño
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