The island prison of San Lucas was so notorious that even the most hardened criminals would weep when they learned that was where they would be sent.
Life spans were short, torture was common and the isolation was soul deadening.
The prison was opened in 1873 and did not close until 1991. The island facility was dormant for many years. Then in 2002 San Lucas Island was declared a National Wildlife Refuge and then in 2020 it became Costa Rica’s 30th National Park.
The 4 ½ square kilometer island is home to a wide variety of wildlife and also has several pre-Columbian sites.
Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado visited San Lucas this week to witness the progress on the renovation of the prison buildings as well as the enhancement of a series of nature trails. The restoration work is being directed by the Cultural Heritage Research and Conservation Center of the Ministry of Culture and Youth.
President Alvarado stated the following while at the island:
Puntarenas has great potential and we are proud that the joint work between the government and institutional sectors has resulted in turning San Lucas Island into a focus that promotes tourism in this province.
Each of the projects carried out represents one more step towards the conservation and projection of this Puntarenas jewel and also towards the revitalization of its economy. Tourists are already visiting the island and there are several tour operators taking visitors on the forty-minute boat ride from Puntarenas.
Within the framework of the tourist visitation strategy, training was given to more than 50 tourist guides and tour operators by SINAC and the Ministry of Culture.
Another of the key steps was the enabling of online ticket sales through the page of the National System of Conservation Areas for greater ease for both visitors and tour operators.
There is certainly more work to be done but San Lucas is a truly unique Costa Rica National Park that is worth visiting.