Cayo Coco was named for the white ibis, a pale wader called the coco in Cuba, but its mangroves and sandy shallows attract dozens of species, including flamingo (which gather by the hundreds in the shallow bay to the south), roseate spoonbill, tricolored heron, and reddish egret. The island's roughly 90 indigenous bird species are joined by another 120 migrants between November and April, and its forests are also home to everything from wild pig to anole lizard.
its varied wildlife, most people visit Cayo Coco for its swaths of sugary sand shaded by coconut palms and washed by cerulean sea—the stuff of travel posters in Toronto storefronts or the daydreams of snowbound accountants. Nine beaches run for a total of 21 km (12 mi) along the northern coast, and only two of them have hotels. The most spectacular beaches are Playa Flamingo, with its extensive sandbars, and nearby Playa Prohibida (Forbidden Beach)—a protected area backed by dunes covered with scrubby native palms.