National Conservation Area – Isla San Lucas

An uninhabited island in the Gulf of Nicoya - a formal penal colony!

An uninhabited island in the Gulf of Nicoya – a formal penal colony!

Each year, we try to visit a new place in and around Chira Island. This year, the VIDA Association organized a trip to another island in the Gulf of Nicoya, Isla San Lucas. This island is at the mouth of the Gulf of Nicoya and once was home to a prison (think Alcatraz). It was known as a particularly gruesome prison with violent criminals. At times it was deadly. Prisoners were able to leave their cells during the day and they had to cook their own food, growing some of it as well. The prison closed in the 80s or 90s and was left abandoned for several years. A large hotel chain proposed the building of a resort on the island (it has a beautiful, sandy beach) but the federal government decided to keep it and turn it into a national park and conservation area.

Some of the cell blocks and the 'hole' at the former prison on San Lucas Island

Some of the cell blocks and the ‘hole’ at the former prison on San Lucas Island

In visiting the grounds, we saw the former cell blocks, including solitary confinement and ‘the hole’ (quite literally a hole in the ground at the centre of the plaza surrounded by cells. The grounds include an older, beautiful church, a former clinic, and offices for the guards.

A short walk to the other side of the island reveals a beautiful sandy beach with crashing waves and palm trees. It’s also very quiet because the island is uninhabited. We spent the day here enjoying the beautiful beach, before heading home to spend our Sunday with our individual families. The trip is coming to a close, and team members are taking advantage of this opportunity to get in some special family time.

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