Caño Island - Costa Rica

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Large reef shark in the waters around Isla de Cano.

Tropical rainforest far and wide, numerous species of plants and animals, and the famous stone balls made of gabbroic rock. All this is combined on Isla del Caño, a small island 15 kilometers away from the west coast of the Osa Peninsula. This island is part of the famous Corcovado National Park and attracts visitors with a rich underwater world that is home to turtles as well as dolphins. And so, after a few relaxing days on the beach of Drake Bay, we decided to take a snorkeling trip to the island.

Our accommodation offered a tour for a total of $85, which included two of our hostel staff. We were picked up directly at our house beach in Drake Bay. After a half hour boat ride and a short rain shower we reached a second boat in the middle of the sea. People were just trying to free a turtle from the clutches of a ghost net. Ghost nets are old fishing nets that float loosely in the sea and are the undoing of countless inhabitants of the underwater world.  We didn't know how long the turtle had been caught in the net, but our captain was able to help out with a knife, so we were finally able to rescue it. What an introduction to the tour. Such a profound encounter with a sea creature right at the beginning, but of a sad nature.

Men on the water rescuing a turtle.

Slightly disgruntled, we arrived at our first snorkeling spot. There it was immediately, masks on and off into the water. Who wants can borrow a life jacket and fins. Our guide was already in the cool water and led the group to the sights of the underwater world. Besides a few fish and rays there were only limited corals to see. The highlight in the water, however, were three to four large specimens of the black tip reef shark that we got to see. Our guide dove down several times so that they could be seen by all tour participants. Otherwise, it was constantly "stay together" and "come on" and we felt pretty rushed after a while. About 30 minutes later we went back up on the boat and on to two other snorkeling spots. Again it was the same game, mask on, off into the water and always stay together. After a total of three stops, we went slightly hypothermic to the beach of Isla del Caño, where we were provided with drinks and a few cookies and could warm up a bit. We had neoprene shirts on, but after a while it did get a bit chilly, plus there was a slight wind blowing.

Half an hour later we were called back to the boat and headed for the last dive spot. Here we could again observe fish, rays and sharks, however, we were both already exhausted and had lost the motivation a bit. So we were happy when our guide took us out of the water again. Afterwards we went by boat back to the mainland and on the crossing the best of the whole tour happened. In the run-up we had inquired about the underwater world and it was said that one could meet here many whales and dolphins. And so it happened that our boat was accompanied by a small school of dolphins. The porpoises showed their skills and jumped out of the water again and again. Excitedly everyone on board followed the hustle and bustle and as soon as no dolphin was in sight, we kept a lookout on all sides to be able to observe them further after their dive. A few minutes later the breathtaking spectacle was already over and we reached the beach. Here was served big, besides sandwiches and fruit there was also fried rice and meat. We chatted boisterously with the other participants of the trip and exchanged ideas about future destinations. At the end of the trip, everyone was brought back to their beach and so an exhausting but still beautiful day came to an end.

However, the conclusion of this snorkeling tour is somewhat mixed. On the one hand, this hustle and bustle in the water went against the grain, on the other hand, we had both expected a brighter and livelier underwater world. Here the effects of climate change are directly noticeable on the corals, which should influence the sustainability of our lifestyle in the long run. But maybe we just had too high expectations. We had been to the Thai island of Koh Tao in the past, which is famous for its abundance of species. We also still had snorkeling with the manta rays on Nusa Penida in the back of our minds. Accordingly, the idea was perhaps a bit too high, but decide for yourself!

Basically, it should be noted that we, after the experiences we have made so far in the exploration under water, prefer the relaxed snorkeling on your own near the coast. On the one hand, guided tours literally chase both people and animals through the water, on the other hand, a day trip is extremely strenuous and can definitely bring you to your physical limits. On the other hand, some animals can only be observed in this way. Here, everyone must decide for themselves how they want to get closer to the underwater world.

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