Islands of the Osa Peninsula

posted in: Central & South America, Travel | 5

P5240458Join my family on our Costa Rican adventures. We’ve been living in the jungle and exploring the Oso Peninsula. Today we are visiting Isla del Caño of Corcovado Bahia and Isla Violin –perhaps we’ll find gold and pirate’s treasure!

To read about all of our family’s adventures click here: Jungle Adventure!

Mist, Pip and I waiting on our dock at the Sierpe River.

I hired Caesar and his boat crew to take us snorkelling at Cano Island. He picks up us at our dock on the Sierpe River. I had a tick sucking my blood a few days ago, from hiking in Corcovado National Park. Caesar had been our park guide on that hike. Peter and the girls removed it with tweezers but were not %100 sure that the head was out. I show him my bite site (it’s still red and itchy). He assures me it looks good and then shows me some of his past tick bite sites.


Once more we crash through the rough currents as we leave the Sierpe River in our teeny-tiny ocean boat. The ocean is choppy and I long for a bigger boat. Off we speed toward an island about 1 1/2 hours from shore. Why is it that every time I’m in a small boat on the South Pacific Ocean, Gilligan’s Island theme song won’t stop playing in my head? I worry when I’m on the choppy ocean with Pippi. Her life jacket is too big and missing a belt. Mist is a lifeguard and Tabs has her Bronze Medallion so I feel they’ll be okay.

Watch this short clip of the waves:

Cano Island is rich in folklore. It has few large mammals and is uninhabited; thus, the water is said to be the best and ships for the last 500 years have been stopping by to restock their water supplies. Sir Francis Drake and Captain Morgan are said to have come ashore for water.

Approaching Cano Island. The beauty is surreal.


P5240347We snorkel off the shore of Cano Island. The currents are rough and the water deep—I have been spoiled by the still waters of the South China Sea and snorkelling in the shallow Hawaiian bays.

I am very fair-skinned and freckled—I always burn. I purchased rash guard t-shirts for the entire crew to protect us from the sun while snorkelling. Also, the last time I wore a regular t-shirt in the ocean a large jelly fish swam inside and stung me (in the South China Sea) and I was in pain and ill for several hours.

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I jump into the deep water to snorkel. I’m not even in for 3 minutes before a blasted jelly fish swims up my too big ( I realize now) rash guard and decides to sting its way across my abdomen! Thank G it is a small jelly fish as the only symptoms are red lines and welts and a little nausea. It’s weird, every time I get stung by a jelly fish, my stomach gets a little nauseous about ten minutes afterward.
Peter, Me, Mist and Tabs (Pip is already back in the boat–I find the current too rough and the ocean too deep for her to snorkel at this spot).


Cano Island is a South Pacific Paradise. No boats area allowed to dock and tourist cannot stay on the Island or even eat or go to the bathroom on shore. The beauty of the Island is worth the trip.

The boat drops us off on the shore of Cano Island.
Me heading to shore. Forgot my rash guard and sunscreen on the boat 🙁 My first burn in a very long time.
Mist and Tabs and Peter
Peter and Tabs
Peter and Pip crossing a fresh water stream that empties in the ocean. The water is very clean.
Peter and the gals in front of the Cano Island ranger’s station
Pip playing in the waves. The current is scary strong–a rogue wave could easily take someone out to sea.
Mom and Pip in the waves.
Tropical Paradise: Cano Island, South Pacific.
Mistaya and Peter
Pip, Mist and Tabs
Ranger Station (the only building on the Island).
Pip burying shells she finds. It is a protected Island; she can’t take any shell souvenirs home.
Me and my girls.

Time for lunch and since one cannot bring food onto the Island we board our small boat and head across rough waters toward a few islands that birds use as rookeries. It is a thrill to see a giant ibis colony sitting on nests. P5240543

You’ll notice three different species of water birds in this picture–all resting on the Island together. They use each other to survive. The frigate bird ( long hooked beak) has no oil in its feathers so it can’t dive into the ocean and get wet or it will drown. It eats by jumping on the backs of other sea birds until they vomit and then it eats their vomit.

Nesting Ibis.
Ibis Colony

Tabitha applied spray sunscreen to her face in the early morning. It didn’t work. Her face is frighteningly scarlet in the boat. I tell her to put on her hat but she refuses. If you know Tabs, you know that she can be stubborn to the point of putting her health at serious risk. I ask her once again to put on the hat as she is seriously burned already and we have several more hours on the ocean. She says, “No,” shakes her head and turns away from me.

Knowing sunstroke is near I do something I’ve never done before: I pull expedition rank. I brought my family to the jungle on my air mile points and planned the entire trip. It was my idea, my expedition. I am the leader of this expedition for better or for worse.

I shout above the boat’s motor, “I am the leader of this expedition, I brought you to Costa Rica. I am ordering you to put on your hat.

She looks up at Peter, smiles (surprised) and then says to me, “Order? You can’t order me.

I say, “I brought you out to explore the Costa Rican jungle. This is my expedition. No one is going to get sunstroke under my watch. Put on your hat. Now. There will be dire consequences if you don’t obey my order,” I add.

Tabitha glances up at her father one more time and then puts on her hat.

Sometimes there is a little Shackleton in all of us.

Approaching Violin Island

Violin Island lies nestled in between the mangrove forests that line the Sierpe river and the rugged coast of the South Pacific. It is also steeped in folklore. The largest nugget of gold in Costa Rica (weighing a kilo) was found on the Island in the 1970s. Though, the Island is now a protected park and thus, no one is allowed to mine the island to look for more gold. Furthermore, it is rumoured that pirate’s treasure is buried on the Island. Hungry treasure hunters have attempted to find this treasure by lowering themselves into the caves that line the shore at low tide. However, many of these caves are said to be bottomless and a few treasure hunters have lowered themselves into the cave to never be seen again.

Violin Island, where we have the entire beach to ourselves.

We stop for lunch at a deserted beach on Violin Island. We are the only humans for as far as the eye can see aside from the park ranger named Miguel—an older man living at the run down ranger station with his trusty chocolate lab (who looks about as old as Miguel).

We arrive on Violin Island. Caesar and Peter carry in the lunch that Caesar has prepared.


Violin Island Ranger Station hidden in the jungle behind the quiet beach.
Violin Island Ranger Station

The endless island beach at low tide is inviting. We run around and the girls collect sand dollars—knowing they will have to remain on the beach when we leave.

Pip and Mom
Tabs and Mist
Mist and Tabs take a long beach walk together to talk teen sister stuff.
Pip and Peter

We suddenly find ourselves caught in an afternoon tropical rainstorm with lightning and thunder. We are not convinced that waiting in the (rat and bat poop filled) abandoned (I don’t think they actually are abandoned, but they should be)  buildings is a better option that standing under a tree and getting hit by lightning.

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 Goodbye Violin Island.
Tabs says she’ll be back to find that pirate’s treasure once and for all!


5 Responses

  1. Sandra Hart
    | Reply

    What a beautiful and interesting place!!!!

  2. Mix Hart
    | Reply

    I love this blog

  3. Mix Hart
    | Reply

    thats Pippi posting ABOVE

  4. Mix Hart
    | Reply

    Thank you S. I could seriously live on the Oso Peninsula very happily.

  5. Mix Hart
    | Reply

    Thank you Pip, my darling girl xoxo

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