For centuries, Cocos Island—a small island in the Pacific Ocean, about 340 miles from the shore of Costa Rica—has been shrouded by legends of buried treasure. Many stories have been drawn from history to explain the possibility of treasure on the island. Perhaps the greatest cache of treasure thought to be on Cocos Island is the treasure of Lima, containing a tremendous collection of gold, silver, and religious artefacts.
How could this treasure have ended up on Cocos Island? It started during the revolution of the early 19th century. Lima became too dangerous for this large cache of treasure to remain. In 1821, the Lima viceroy entrusted the treasure to Captain William Thompson, who led a British merchant ship called Mary Dear. He was to remain at sea until it was safe to return, or sail to Mexico if need be. But greed is a powerful beast and Thompson and his crew killed the guards and sailed to Cocos Island. Once there, they buried the treasure with every intention to return when it was safer.
This plan did not work out as intended. Many of the crewmen were caught in port while loading up on supplies and they were hanged. As far as Thompson goes, there are two possible stories that are told. One is that he was captured and taken back to Cocos Island under guard to unearth the treasure, but he escaped and was never found again. Another version tells that Thompson imparted his secret to a man named Keating and the two arranged an expedition to the island, but Thompson died before they departed. Keating set sail with Captain Bogue, but their crew mutinied, Bogue drowned during the scuffle, and Keating was picked up by a passing vessel and later died before he was able to return to Cocos Island.
Apart from the treasure of Lima, there are other stories of buried treasure thought to be on Cocos Island. The Devonshire treasure—some 350 tons of gold—was supposedly taken to the island by Captain Bennett Graham and maps that led to the gold were later recovered, but a landmark tree had been cut down and the treasure was never found. In 1856, historical reports and letters tell that mercenaries fleeing from Nicaragua found a bronze chain in a cave on the island, and pulling it up recovered a chest full of gold Spanish doubloons.
Treasure hunting has been forbidden on Cocos Island for decades in an effort to preserve the local ecosystem. Recently, it was reported that a group of Costa Rican park rangers were patrolling the island after a storm to locate any damages, when they stumbled upon a wooden object that the tide had unearthed. They dug up wooden chests that contained gold and silver coins and bars, jewelry, gem-encrusted candlesticks and crosses, and two golden statues of the virgin Mary and baby Jesus. The value of this treasure was estimated at $200 million and it was believed to be the lost treasure of Lima.
However, it later came out that this story was a hoax and that the treasure of Lima has still never been found; or if it has been found, it was kept a secret. Hundreds of attempts have been made to find this treasure and all, as far as we know, have failed. Whatever treasure may still be hidden on Cocos Island remains a mystery!