We were already in Panama City when we first heard of this “surfer’s secret spot”. The turquoise crystalline waters and coconut trees kissing the water made our decision very easy and, after a couple of days in busy Panama City, we were ready to embark on a trip to Santa Catalina.
It’s not an smooth trip, as it takes about six hours in packed minivans. If you’re lucky, you get one with air conditioned. We weren’t, and it’s really hot in Panama these days! On the way to Santa Catalina we stopped in Sona. If you’re a fan of “Prison Break” this will bring back some memories. As expected, it was all for show and there really isn’t any prison there! But it is indeed a desolated place, with not much going on.
One and a half hours later we finally reach Santa Catalina’s shores, and under a pouring rain we manage to find our way around the village’s only two streets. To be honest, after a couple of hours there, we were starting to feel a bit disappointed with the place. We had seen beautiful pictures of idyllic beaches, but our short walk to the beach only showed us dirty sand and brownish waters. After six hours of bumpy roads, we were expecting a bit more…
That night we decided to compensate our misfortunes with some pizza and wine (is there a better way of feeling good again?). It was here that we heard about the hidden beauties of the Island of Coiba, where our paradise beaches were waiting or us. Ok, there was hope again 🙂
Next day we woke up to a beautiful sunny day, and went early in the morning for a boat tour to Coiba. And this is were we really regretted not having a waterproof camera! It was my first time snorkeling and I was thrilled! It was like swimming with Nemo & friends. We saw a whole bunch of colorful fishes that would have made amazing pictures. But most incredible of all, we swam with whitetip reef sharks… Not from the inside of a cage, but right there, next to us. I’m writing this now, and feeling the thrill all over again! No words to describe it (and unfortunately, no pictures either).
Coiba Island is definitely a very special place, and a sanctuary for marine life. Being there, seeing all that beautiful underwater world, made all the bumps in the road more than worth it! Talking about bumps, the trip back to mainland was pretty rough as well, thanks to the late afternoon “southern breeze”. Seemed like a full blown wind to us, but at the end of it Verne made it to a large shrimp boat and felt very tempted to ignore his vegetarian diet 🙂
Going north now to a tropical forest paradise: Boquete!