San Lucas Island is a small paradisical island with an interesting historical twist - it was once a prison for some of Costa Rica's most violent criminals.

San Lucas Island Wildlife Refuge: A Journey into Costa Rica's Untamed Past

Timeless History Unveiled

San Lucas Island carries the weight of history upon its verdant shoulders. Once home to a notorious prison, the island whispers tales of convicts, solitude, and a bygone era. The haunting remnants of the prison, with its decaying walls and somber cells, offer a sobering glimpse into the island's tumultuous past.

Wildlife and Biodiversity

Beyond its historical façade, San Lucas Island is a haven for biodiversity. The refuge's pristine beaches and lush forests provide a sanctuary for countless species. Howler monkeys play amidst the branches, while coatis and anteaters scurry on the forest floor. Birdwatchers will be enthralled by the sight of frigatebirds, brown pelicans, and magnificent frigatebirds soaring overhead.

Trails of Discovery

Exploration beckons with a network of trails that wind through the island's wilderness. The 'La Rampa' trail leads you to a stunning viewpoint, where the azure sea meets the emerald forest. The 'El Panteón' trail winds past abandoned prison buildings, offering an eerie glimpse into the island's past. And the 'Playa Blanca' trail leads you to a pristine beach where the gentle lull of waves invites you to unwind.

A Lesson in Conservation

San Lucas Island stands as a testament to Costa Rica's commitment to conservation. The refuge is a vital nesting site for seabirds and a critical link in the country's effort to protect its natural heritage. Educational programs allow visitors to gain insights into conservation efforts and the island's unique ecology.

Plan Your Escape

San Lucas Island Wildlife Refuge is an opportunity to step off the beaten path and into a world frozen in time. Whether you're drawn to its historical allure, the call of untamed nature, or the chance to witness a myriad of wildlife, this refuge welcomes you with open arms. As you explore its rugged trails and immerse yourself in its storied past, you'll discover a slice of Costa Rican history and wilderness that remains beautifully untamed.

Weather and packing list

Central Pacific temperatures remain the same nearly year round with average day time highs in the upper 80s to low 90s and night time lows in the upper 70s. Precipitation varies by month with the months of December through April being the driest.

Visitors should pack a bathing suit, towel, shorts, tee shirts, appropriate shoes, rain gear, sun block, and insect repellent.

Fun Fact: La Isla de los Hombres is an intriguing book written by former (innocent) inmate, Jose Leon San Chez which describes the pain and suffering endured by the prisoners.

Nearby Destinations

Puntarenas6 km
Jaco50 km
Malpais-Santa Teresa76 km
Tambor39 km
Montezuma57 km


Latitude: N 9° 56' 26.3"
Longitude: W 84° 54' 13.74"

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