Isla del Cocos: Hidden Treasure Trove

Captain Thomas, Benito Bonito and a whole series of whimsically murderous pirates buried tons of gold on Isla del Cocos -- about 300 miles from mainland Costa Rica -- because they thought you'd never find the place. Remote and never successfully occupied, Cocos has inspired treasure hunters for centuries, plus purportedly the writers Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe), Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island) and Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park). If your whimsy runs to cave-dotted cliffs leaping from clear seas, green-swathed mountains sparkling with waterfalls and otherworldly tropical cloud forests, then these 9 square miles of land in the Pacific Ocean will inspire you as well. Fun-size sea animals like whale sharks, mantas and schooling hammerheads congregate in the nutrient-rich offshore waters, and almost everyone who visits Cocos arrives aboard dive boats and seaplanes out of Puntarenas. Costa Rica named the island a national park in 1978; there are no accommodations, and camping is prohibited. So if you want to spend the night and dig for treasure, you'll have to hide.