Part archeological site, part diving and snorkeling paradise – the 740 acre Cano Island is worth a visit during your Costa Rica travels. Conveniently accessed from the central or southern Pacific, Cano Island is situated roughly 12 miles from Drake Bay, and is renowned for its amazing marine life and high visibility – averaging around 40-50 feet. Swirling schools of jacks, colorful reef fish, white tip sharks and moray eel sightings are not uncommon in this biological reserve.
Cano Island: location and fast facts
- Location: Osa Peninsula, 12 nautical miles by boat from Drake Bay
- Reserve admission fee: $10.00 (included in package tours)
- Total area: 6,669 maritime acres, 740 land acres
- Overnight stays and camping are not permitted
Diverse aquatic life of Cano Island Reserve
Consistently rated among Costa Rica’s top diving and snorkeling sites, Cano Island is brimming with unique submarine volcanic formations and live coral reefs, which play host to spotted eagle rays, damsel fish, puffers, sea turtles, king angelfish, barracuda and several species of dolphin. Pilot and humpback whales often migrate through these warm waters as well. Though January through April is considered the best time of year in terms of visibility (sometimes more than 80 feet!), the snorkeling and scuba diving is excellent throughout the year.
Popular dive sites
Sixty-foot volcanic walls laden with coral make up some of the surreal seascapes of Cano Island, where two-tank dives are ideal for those at the beginner and intermediate level. Natural rock formations, caves and underwater gorges are rife with white tip reef sharks, devil rays, octopus, snappers and other aquatic creatures. Popular dive sites include The Arches, Coral Gardens, The Devil’s Playground, Shark Cave and Paradise. Ocean temperatures typically range from the upper seventies to low eighties year-round, and shorty suits (2 mm) are provided on scuba tours with certified PADI instructors.
All-inclusive snorkeling tours
Cano Island snorkeling day trips depart from several tourist hotspots including Manuel Antonio, Dominical, Uvita and Drake Bay/ Sierpe. From Quepos/Manuel Antonio the boat trip takes just over 1 and ½ hours, offering ample opportunities to spot dolphins and sea turtles along the way. Tours usually include two snorkeling trips with bilingual guides, park entrance fees, a picnic lunch onshore and a couple of hour’s free time for hiking or relaxing on the beach. The park’s unusual granite spheres suggest that Cano Island was once a burial ground. During the green season (May through November), most tour operators require a minimum of four to six guests, while a 2 person minimum is needed for December-April visits.