Costa RicaCosta Rica

The Cabuya Island – a tropical cemetery

Quick Facts

  • Highlight : Unusual Cemetery
  • Location : 7km south of Montezuma; 2km from the Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve
  • Area : 3.5 hectares

Swinging in the view of the Pacific Ocean, rises Cabuya Island, pounded by the surf and dotted with its Giant Cabuyas (green-aloe plant) that gave the island its name. Its magic summons from the swaying palm trees, the white arch gate entrance and the graves of forgotten centuries as well as more recent ones over past decades that are carved in its rock-strewn shores.

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The water gates open the path as the receding tides uncover the 1,312-foot (400 meter) rocky path to Cabuya Island twice a day. Locals are known to live long, healthy lives in Cabuya so the cemetery holds graves from the first two families who settled the area the Gomez and the Gonzalez, locals, and foreigners who have also chosen to be buried there. The island was chosen as a cemetery of the hamlet because no crops can grow on it.

Sandy, cobblestoned paths wind around the island; cement, wooded or eroded metal crosses planted on the ground with no logical order; graveyards scattered in between thickets of vegetation and seashells, adorned with brightly painted bottles and plastic flower arrangements– you can not use real flowers because iguanas would use them to eat and lay their eggs. One of the most recent grave is decorated with an aircraft propeller denoting the passion for aviation.

Funerals in the island are eventful and memorable, people have to work the activity around the tides carrying the casket with their hands or placing it on top of their shoulders walking in between rocks, letting their emotions drip from their bodies and imprinting the sensation of the casket weight on their muscles. The tranquil image of the island stays in their minds forever.

Ceremonies are surreal at the sunset, boats floating behind the island with colorful lights, lit candles cradled along both edges of the island reefs and lines of people walking with candles coming and going on the island.

Cabuya is wonderfully tranquil, a quite place to reflect about death and life matters.

The Cabuya Island – a tropical cemetery in Pictures