Things change, nothing ever stays the same. It could be a sentence straight out of a relationship book, yet that is not what we are talking about today. Just like people, places tend to evolve over time and one of the most radical changes lately certainly concerns a Costa Rican island. From a feared jail island to a splendidly lush national park: the evolution is real.
Up until 1991, San Lucas housed one of the most-feared jails in all of Latin-America. People who were sentenced to sit out there jail time on the now idyllic island, were almost certain to die a painful death. Prisoners were starved and tortured, something that is still reflected in the blood-stained walls of the former jail. From 1873 until 1991, it was quite literally Hell on Earth.
1. Thirtieth national park
Since its closure, nature took back the island of San Lucas. The prison itself has become somewhat of a ruin, a silent witness of the past. All kinds of animals, ranging from turkeys to howler monkeys and barracudas have now taken over the territory making the island a stunning piece of nature. That fact did not remain unnoticed by the Costa Rican officials and that is why they decided to turn it into the country’s thirtieth national park. “San Lucas Island is part of Costa Rica’s history and heritage, so we are very pleased to reopen it as the country’s 30th national park. It will greatly surprise visitors looking for quieter spots when on holiday”, as Gustavo Segura Sancho, Costa Rica’s tourism minister, told Lonely Planet.
2. Nature, culture and history
Although San Lucas is quite small (4,6 square kilometers to be exact), the new park has a lot to offer. Aside from the thriving nature on land, tourists can also explore the surrounding waters, as they are also part of the national park. For those who prefer culture and history over nature: no worries, you will get what you came for. Guides are present on the island and will be able to give you a tour of the former jail, including all its bloody history and details that will make you shiver. But there is more, always more! Indeed, San Lucas is also home to eight archeological sites which will give you a look inside the history of the people living here between 1000 and 1500 AD.
Did we make you curious about San Lucas? If you want to visit the island, you can take a 40-minute boat ride departing from Puntarenas on the main land.