We have been blessed to do some rather wonderful things while in Panama. A high priority for us has been hitting up the beach (since there are so many close by!). Neither Señor Luma nor I are super crazy beach people (seriously, all that sand just gets EVERYWHERE!). Despite this, we have had some fabulous beach escapes!
The most recent was just the other weekend. I’ll be honest here: I love snorkelling. Like giddy-squealing-cause-I-saw-something-colourful, child-like LOVE snorkelling! It doesn’t even have to be great snorkelling for me to love it! Up until this most recent trip, we have had some decent snorkelling opportunities and I have been more than happy with my experiences. But then I heard about Coiba National Park, off the Pacific coast of Panama. The island used to house a prison (up until 2004!!) and is now a marine and national park, preserving the barely-touched-ecosystems (both on land and under water). And the snorkelling and diving around this national park (which is often referred to as “Panama’s Galapagos”) is likely the best in all of Panama. Crystal clear blue waters, lots of impressive marine wildlife (including whale sharks!), and government regulations that keep this spot preserved.
It is about a 4.5-hour drive from Boquete, so we broke our drive up with some time at our favourite spot in Las Lajas. Upon our arrival at our (seriously basic and no-frills) accommodations, we booked ourselves in for an all-day snorkelling tour to Isla Coiba. We headed off a blindly, knowing nothing about the itinerary for the day or anything about the company – this was EXTREMELY hard for Señor Luma who has an extensive background in tourism and is used to being in control (or at least in the know!). But sometimes you do have to just put all your faith in the belief that it is all going to be fine (cause it was!).
We found our group in the morning and loaded in to the boat to head off on our 90-minute ride (from the beach at Santa Catalina – the nearest town) to the island. 90 minutes on a boat passes so much faster than in a car! It helped that we saw a pod of dolphins from the boat!! Upon seeing dolphins for the first time in her life, Lumita announced “This is the BEST snorkelling trip ever!!” (and we hadn’t even go IN the water yet…!). 🙂
We visited 3 beautiful, white sand beaches, and swam in gorgeously crystal blue (the clearest water that I have ever snorkelled in). We saw all kinds of glorious creatures and had such a lovely time! Hands down, the most exciting spotting was seeing 2 whale sharks! The area around Isla Coiba is part of their migration route and it is possible both dive and snorkel with them! On our way back at the end of the tour, we stopped off at a spot where whale sharks are often spotted and hopped in to the water with high hopes… I’ll be honest, I pretty much couldn’t contain myself and we saw the 2 whale sharks… They are extremely docile creatures (even if they are so huge and the word “shark” in their name which makes them sound ferocious) and move nice a slow so they are easy to watch. This was such a huge gift and a lifetime dream for Señor Luma!
Although they didn’t snorkel, the kids had a wonderful time playing in the shallow water and the sand. It was a great day to be outside and enjoying such a beautiful place!
This was such a wonderful weekend and it certainly has us rather excited for our time snorkelling in Roatan and in the cayes of Belize!