Isla Nublar is at once real and entirely fictitious. Imagine an island off the west coast of Costa Rica that for centuries was a favorite place for pirates to bury treasure, and a dumping ground for tyrants to maroon doomed smallpox victims.
Oh, and then cover the place with dinosaurs run amuck; mix in some cute kids and a still nubile Laura Dern; combine it with one of cinema’s best shots ever, and you have this place.
The island is part of the Las Cinco Muertes Archipelago (English: The Five Deaths), a chain of five islands 300 miles southwest of Costa Rica. They are named Isla Matanceros, Isla Muerta, Isla Pena, Isla Sorna and Isla Tacaño. The name comes from an Indian myth about a brave warrior facing a different execution on each of the five islands: burning, drowning, crushing, hanging and beheading. Oh wait, that’s from the movie…
In this reality, there is just one island called Isla Del Coco, or Coco’s Island, and it has quite a vibrant history—even if there was no actual Jurassic Park. It’s only 90 miles from the Equator, and the waters around it are so pristine that the fabulous Jacques Cousteau himself called it the most beautiful island in the world.
It’s a World Heritage site now, and only rangers live there to keep the dinosaur and treasure hunters at bay. Coco’s is surrounded by high cliffs and, with 25 feet of rainfall a year, it has exuberant waterfalls pouring from the escarpment.
If a certain Emperor Don T. had his way, it would be a sovereign tax haven with a glittering Trump hotel, and the wildlife would consist of top-heavy Russian hookers and mountain ranges of blow on gold trays by the infinity pools. I know what you’re thinking. Not such a terrible scenario at-all. But still, “I’d like dinosaurs, please.”
Pirates were mostly an Atlantic Ocean thing focused on the Caribbean, but there were old-time pirates in the Pacific as well. The remoteness of Coco fueled persistent tales of buried treasure on the island, and treasure hunters have been searching for the loot for centuries. If one is going to launch rumors of lost treasure, might as well make it a big one. The Captain Graham treasure is supposedly 35 tons of Spanish gold worth about 16 billion dollars today. This would be even more than the Jurassic Park films are worth.
The stories of buried treasure date back at least 500 years, but in the New World there is only one authenticated case of this—when Captain Kidd buried a pile of loot on Gardner’s Island off New York’s Long Island. He thought that if he was captured, he could use it as a bargaining chip. It didn’t work out and he was hanged. The treasure has never found…but I have this map, see, with a X on it, see…