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Last updated on July 20, 2023
Widely considered the most spectacular snorkeling spot in Costa Rica, Isla del Caño boasts a rich sea life in a tropical paradise. This small and lush island is home to scarlet macaws and toucans. Isla de Caño is bordered by a hard coral reef where sea turtles, sharks, rays and colorful fish abound at a shallow depth. Located off the coast of Corcovado National Park, it takes 1 to 2 hours by boat to reach the spot, but it is really worth the trip.
Isla del Caño is located off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, west of Corcovado National Park.
The small island, which is a biological reserve, can only be visited during day trips with tour operators registered with the park. Tour prices range between $100 and $150 per person. Most of the tours include 2 snorkeling sessions around the island, lunch on the boat, and time to relax on a beach.
Isla del Caño tours depart mainly from 3 locations:
During the boat trip between the mainland and the island, you may have the chance to spot sea turtles, dolphins, or humpback whales (from June to September and December to April).
You will enter the water from your boat, a few dozen meters from the island’s shore.
Your guide will most probably take you to the northern coast of the island, as it is more sheltered and several coral reefs have developed.
The reef forms plateaus and ridges that slope irregularly from the surface to deeper areas. The reef is composed of hard corals, mainly from Pocillopora and Porites genus. The coral is quite bleached, especially on the shallower parts of the reef, exposed to swell and tides.
Isla del Caño has a striking density of fish, one of the highest in the Eastern Pacific. Reef fish, such as the bluebarred parrotfish, the orangeside triggerfish, the king angelfish and the Mexican hogfish are common near the coral heads, including in shallow water. Dozens of other species can be seen, such as damselfish and butterflyfish.
Isla del Caño is also famous for its larger inhabitants. Whitetip reef sharks and hawksbill sea turtles are so common here that they are spotted by snorkelers almost every time. Occasionally, stingrays, eagle rays and barracudas are also seen.
Due to its offshore location, underwater visibility at this location is generally good, including during the rainy season. Because of the water clarity, snorkeling in Isla del Caño is possible almost all year round.
The island is completely wild and protected, and there are no facilities. Day trips usually include lunch. Please inquire when you book your tour.
These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Shallow rocky beds with colorful fish
Sponges, corals and seagrass with fish and critters
Sandy beach and mangrove with fish and sea stars
Free shore access
Rocky beds with a diversity of fish
Mangrove and seagrass flats with sea stars and fish
Seagrass and small corals with reef fish and critters