In 2002 when Ulrich purchased the 55-acre property that would later become Cocovivo, starting a hospitality business was the farthest thing from his mind. Like much of Isla Cristobal at the time, the land was largely deforested and being used for cattle grazing. Most of the southwest facing hillside was covered in banana trees - a vestige of the United Fruit Company's presence on the island a century ago. Aside from a ramshackle hut circa the modern-day composting toilet, there were no structures on the property. There was also no tourist industry to speak of in the Tierra Oscura lagoon; aside from a small indigenous community across the lagoon and a smattering of intrepid expat homesteaders, this was a literal no-man's-land. Ulrich's vision was to reforest the land and build a small vacation home for himself and his future family.
The Early Days
The beginnings of the Reef Cabin. Ulrich picked this spot to plant posts because dynamite fishing had long ago destroyed this part of the reef. September 2002
Finally, a (floating) place to sleep!
Now for something more solid...
Only one month later - October 2002
The waterfront looked so different without the Mangroves. The Mangroves are an important part of the ecosystem - necessary for both healthy coral and bioluminescence! Ulrich allowed them to grow back.
Bringing penca leaves or the new roof.
With a roof!
The composting toilet was an early and important addition! 2002.
Cutting boards freehand with a chainsaw.
By 2003, we had both the Reef Center kitchen and Caretaker House.
This was taken from the roof of the diving board room in 2005. A Smithsonian report says something like 70% of the coral in Almirante Bay has been destroyed by recent bleaching events, but we think it doesn't look that different.
Relaxing after work pre-smart phones.
Transportation hasn't changed much in 20 years!