The island-nation of Guam in the middle of the Pacific Ocean offers so many reasons why people from all over the world should come for vacation. One of the reasons is Cocos Island located about a mile off the southern tip of Guam within the Merrizo Barrier Reef. It is an uninhabited island that is 1.6 km long and only 200 to 300 meters wide.
Eating out and picnicking on the island as you view the beautiful wonder of nature is to die for. Imagine dining outdoors while drinking coconut juice or watching white seabirds fly by, tropical butterflies play, coconut crabs and hermit crabs inch across the white coral sand, and banana and pine trees sway from the cool sea breeze. Only Nature at its finest can offer a dining experience that no first-class restaurant in the world can rival. There aren’t any expensive or exotic restaurants here, just simple snack shops and ice cream parlors to cool you down.
Diving is the top reason why tourists come to this Pacific island. Cocos Island has a long reef that is teeming with brightly colored tropical reef fishes, octopus and other interesting marine creatures. There is a long sandbar that leads to a steep drop at the edge. The currents, however, are almost always very strong, which is why only expert divers are encouraged to come. Divers may arrange their dives and rent diving gear in Guam before they head for the island or at Cocos Island’s main resort. For non-expert divers and regular tourists, the other side of the island has clear shallow waters that are perfect for snorkeling.
Besides scuba diving, the island also offers a host of other fun water activities, which include dolphin watching (costs about $100-120), jet-skiing ($40-60), boat snorkeling ($30-40), parasailing ($60-100), windsurfing, paint-ball fights, tropical fishing, jungle tour, and kayaking. If one wishes to enjoy the water but save money at the same time, simply wading by the sandy beach or swimming around is already quite an experience.
Finally, expert divers come to the island for treasure hunting. The island is a site of a major shipwreck more than three centuries ago. On June 2, 1690, the Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragosa y Santiago passed along the island and hit the island’s long reef. The ancient ship was eventually damaged and sank just off the island, about 30 to 80 feet deep. The Spanish galleon was sailing from Acapulco, Mexico on its way to Manila, Philippines for an annual Spanish festival. Back then, Guam and the Philippines were both faraway colonies of Spain. The ship was believed to be carrying silver swords, coins and artifacts estimated to be worth millions of dollars today. Apparently, typhoons have broken the sunken hull and this allowed the wreckage to drift deeper into the waters.
Since 1998, commercial divers and underwater archaeologists have flocked to the area to excavate the ocean floor. Until today, the wreck has not been recovered and a number of divers, archeologists and treasure hunters continue the search.
The ancient ship and its silver swords and coins may never be found, but visitors to Cocos Island know and all agree that the real gem is the island itself.