San Lucas Island was used as a prison from 1873 to 1991. Modeled after Devil’s Island, it housed Costa Rica’s worst criminals, kind of like Alcatraz with a Papillion twist. The prison is often referred to as “The Island of Lonely Men,” based on the book of the same name (La Isla de Los Hombres Solos) written by Jose Leon Sanchez, a prisoner who claimed his innocence and tried to escape multiple times.
The island is located 8 kilometers and 40 minutes by boat from the tip of Puntarenas. The former buildings of the penal island are considered “patrimonio de cultural” (cultural heritage sites). During the tour, you will see the historic waterfront with original dock, the church, a medical building, a former office, and of course, the prison cells, complete with graffiti typical of prisons in Latin America.
San Lucas Island was designated a national wildlife refuge on February 12, 2001. Its 1156 acres (470 hectares) are home to howler monkeys, snakes, deer, pheasants, and at least 8 species of bats. The waters surrounding the island provide habitat for manta rays and turtles.
Another important aspect of the island’s history is that, from 1500 to 800 BC, indigenous groups lived on San Lucas and used it as a burial place. There are 8 known archeological sites on the island. San Lucas is one of only two islands in the Gulf of Nicoya with fresh water on it.
Our tour of San Lucas Island includes:
- Round trip boat transportation from the dock in Puntarenas
- Bilingual guide and entrance fees. Entrance fees are $2 for Costa Rica residents & citizens – must show a current cedula (residency card), and $10 for tourists
- Fresh fruit and water
- Picnic lunch on a deserted beach (a 45 minute walk from the prison, or you can take the boat to the beach)
Pricing: Residents – $50 Tourists – $58
- Discounts available for groups of 6 or more
- Transportation can be provided for groups of 10 or more at an additional charge
- Call for dates