Cano Island Costa Rica

Visiting Cano Island Biological Reserve, Costa Rica

Cano Island in Costa Rica is a hidden gem that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. Located off the coast of the Osa Peninsula, this pristine tropical island is surrounded by vibrant coral reefs and crystal-clear waters that offer a feast for the senses.

With its lush rainforests, white-sand beaches, and diverse wildlife, Cano Island provides a window into the natural beauty of Costa Rica. Whether you’re an experienced diver or just looking for a peaceful getaway, Cano Island has something to offer.

From exploring the island’s rich history and culture to participating in water-based activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking, there is never a dull moment. In this blog post, we’ll dive into what makes Cano Island such a special destination and give you the tools you need to plan an unforgettable visit.


Cano Island in Costa Rica is a place steeped in history and culture. The island has been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous communities, and its rich history can be traced back to pre-Columbian times. The island is home to a number of important archaeological sites, including the pre-Columbian archaeological site of the same name, which is considered one of the most important in Costa Rica.

The island has played an important role in the region’s cultural and economic development throughout history. It was a key trading center for the indigenous people, and was later used as a base for pirates and smugglers. In the 19th century, the island was transformed into a center for the production of coconut oil, and later into a site for scientific research.

Today, Cano Island is a protected natural reserve and a popular destination for tourists, who come to experience its rich history, culture, and natural beauty. Visitors can take guided tours of the archaeological site and learn about the island’s fascinating past, or simply relax on the beach and soak up the sun. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a new adventure, Cano Island is a destination that will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of Costa Rica.

What to do on Cano Island

Most of Caño Island Biological Reserve is off limits to visitors; one small section of beaches and two short trails on the northwest side of the island are all most people are allowed to see. Multiple dive sites and a couple of snorkel areas, again on the northwest side of the island, make up the meager portion of the marine protected area that is not forbidden.

That all said there are still a variety of activities to do on Cano Island, including:

Snorkeling and diving

The island is home to a variety of coral reefs, including brain coral, star coral, and elkhorn coral, which provide a habitat for an array of colorful fish and other sea creatures. Visitors can also spot sea turtles, rays, and even sharks swimming in the waters around the island.

The island’s location in the Pacific Ocean also provides the opportunity to see a variety of pelagic fish species and marine mammals like dolphins and whales. Snorkelers and divers will be able to explore the underwater world, and enjoy the beauty of the tropical marine life. It is recommended to visit the island with a guided tour for a better and safe experience.


Here you can hike the island’s trails, which wind through its lush tropical forest, home to a variety of plants and animals such as monkeys, parrots, and iguanas. The island is also home to a wide variety of bird species, making it a popular destination for birdwatching.

Additionally, the island is an important archaeological site, with evidence of human habitation dating back to pre-Columbian times. Visitors can learn about the island’s rich cultural history and see ancient artifacts such as pottery, tools, and sculptures.

Archaeological exploration

Cano Island is an important archaeological site, with evidence of human habitation dating back to pre-Columbian times. The island was a ceremonial and burial center for ancient indigenous peoples, and it has a rich cultural history.

The island is home to a variety of ancient artifacts such as pottery, tools, and sculptures, which provide insight into the lives of the island’s ancient inhabitants. Visitors can learn about the island’s rich cultural history and gain an understanding of the island’s significance in the region’s pre-Columbian past.

The island has been the subject of several archaeological studies and excavations, and the findings of these studies have provided important information about the island’s ancient inhabitants and their way of life.


The island’s location in the Pacific Ocean provides access to a variety of different fishing grounds and species. You can arrange fishing trips with local guides who are experienced in the area and can take them to the best spots for catching different types of fish.

Some of the most popular fishing methods used around the island include trolling, casting, and jigging. You can also go fly fishing in the surrounding waters, where they can catch sailfish, dorado, and other species.

It’s important to note that Cano Island is a protected area and the fishing is regulated by the Costa Rican government, so be sure to check the regulations and only fish with a licensed guide.


The island’s clear waters, coral reefs, and marine life make for great underwater photography opportunities. Visitors can take pictures of colorful fish, sea turtles, and other sea creatures while snorkeling or diving.

The island’s lush tropical forest, home to a variety of plants and animals such as monkeys, parrots, and iguanas, also provides opportunities for wildlife and nature photography. The island’s beaches and cliffs are also great spots to take landscape and seascape photos.


Cano Island give you the chance to relax and unwind in a beautiful and natural setting. The island’s clear waters and beautiful beaches are perfect for swimming, sunbathing and relaxing. Visitors can take a dip in the ocean, or simply lie on the beach and soak up the sun. The island’s natural beauty, with lush tropical forest and cliffs, also provide great spots for picnicking and enjoying the scenery.

You can also find a quiet spot to read a book or just take in the peaceful surroundings. The island is also a great place to enjoy the sunset or watch the stars at night.

How To Get To Cano Island

Getting to Cano Island in Costa Rica is an adventure in itself, and can be done through a combination of land and sea travel. The island is located off the coast of the Osa Peninsula and is only accessible by boat. The quickest and most convenient way to reach the island is by taking a tour from the nearby town of Drake Bay.

To get to Drake Bay, you can fly into either the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose or the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia. From there, you can take a shuttle bus or rental car to the town of Drake Bay, which is approximately a 5-6 hour drive from San Jose and a 3-hour drive from Liberia.

Once you arrive in Drake Bay, you can book a tour to Cano Island through a local tour operator. The tour usually includes round-trip boat transportation, snorkeling or diving gear, and a guided tour of the island and its surrounding waters. The boat trip to the island takes about 45 minutes to an hour and provides breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the lush coastline of the Osa Peninsula.

How far is Cano Island from Marino Ballena National Park?

Cano Island Biological Reserve is located about 50km (31 miles) off the coast of Costa Rica, in the Pacific Ocean. Marino Ballena National Park is located on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, near the town of Uvita.

The distance between Cano Island and Marino Ballena National Park is approximately 100km (62 miles) by boat. It’s important to note that Cano Island is only accessible by boat and the trip can take around 2-3 hours one way, depending on the weather conditions and the boat used.

Final Thoughts

Allowing only a small part of the island to be used seems to be working well. With lots of hotels and operators from all over Costa Rica offering tours to the island, it seems that limiting the number of visitors just makes everyone want to go to the island more – and pay more.

Thousands of boats a year visit the island, many paying for people to swim in the waters and hang out on the beach. Sportfishing and superyachts invariably motor around for better chances of catching fish just outside the protected waters, and for the views of thick forests and waterfalls cascading into the sea. The fact that a great part of the island is sure to be untouched seems to be its greatest attraction.