USD $2,050.00 | 7 nights / 8 days
Fourteen miles from the Panamanian mainland lies a tropical oasis cloaked in beauty, mystery, and nature at it’s rawest. Declared as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, the island itself is a part of the larger Coiba National Park system. The park is compromised of 38 islands spanning +270,125 ha (216,500 ha of which are underwater). Coiba Island also serves as the last refuge for a number of threatened terrestrial flora and fauna that are no longer found on the mainland. As a biologically diverse area that includes one of the largest coral reef tracts in the Eastern Pacific, the area has been found to host 760 species of marine fishes, 33 species of sharks and 20 species of cetaceans.
Our journey begins in Panama City, the country’s capital. After checking into your colonial style accommodations in Casco Viejo, Panama’s historic neighborhood established in the 1600’s, you will have time to immerse yourself in the culturally rich street scene. Currently undergoing a renaissance, the Casco Viejo area is fast developing into a trendy, modern enclave blending old with new in a harmonious way. You will be left charmed by the many artisanal stores carrying locally made goods. After a day strolling and decompressing, we will enjoy our first Welcome Dinner together.
The next morning we will rise early to make our way down the famous Panamerican Highway until the turnoff leads us down the winding rural road into the quaint, remote town of Santa Catalina. We will be stopping along the route to stretch our legs while visiting one of the oldest operating churches in Central America.
Santa Catalina, with it’s undisturbed views of the Pacific Ocean and the local surf break, has managed to maintain it’s authentic rustic charm despite recent growth in the area. This small but world-class watersports locale will serve as our home base for our expedition to Coiba National Park.
The journey is just beginning where the road ends and the boat ride begins…
DAYS 3 – 5
After checking in to the dive shop and securing our dive equipment, we will take off with overnight bags to Coiba National Park.
The park is reached by a 90 minute panga ride from Santa Catalina. We will skim by the lush tropical shoreline, with opportunities to catch dolphins, whales, and flying fish breaking the surface of the waters.
During the next three days, we will have the unique opportunity to experience Panama in a way neither locals nor tourists ever will! Due to it’s unique geographic location near the Gulf of Chiriqui, which provide a buffer against temperature extremes of El Nino events, there is an abundance and diversity of marine fauna. The islands within this park are the only areas in the tropical eastern Pacific that have significant populations of mostly Indo-Pacific fish that have established themselves so far East.
We will be participating in (3) guided dives each day, with the option of a night dive if the group desires. There are (4) islands that are frequented by dive operators, offering a plethora of dive sites and topography. It is worth noting that strong currents are common in many areas – as well as thermoclines that bring in the big marine species that divers love to see! You are practically guaranteed sightings of white tip reef sharks, sea turtles, schools of large crevalle jacks, snappers, grunts, barracudas, colorful reef fish (including angelfish, butterflyfish, trigger and parrot fish) and rare species such as frogfish and seahorses. If we are lucky, we will be able to catch the traveling schools of small manta rays (mobulas) and other schooling rays like pelagic sting rays, eagle rays or cownose rays. Visibility in these areas is usually 15 – 20 meters (50 – 70 ft.) during this time of year.
Our accommodation each evening will be at a locally operated lodge on one of the nearby islands.
Take your time to rise – the day is yours to seize from the comfort of your hammock or the thrill of your surf board on the local break. You will have the option to participate in yoga, a surf lesson, or stroll through Santa Catalina town. You can absolutely stay put in the hammock – and we definitely won’t blame you if the hotel’s infinity pool located on the edge of the oceanfront proves too breathtaking to tear away from either!
We will depart after another delicious breakfast and head leisurely back to Panama City. Along the way, we will stop at a local beach hangout for lunch where we will get to stretch our legs and take a last swim in the Pacific waters. After checking back into the hotel in the city, we will have our final group dinner and debriefing.
Departure day! We never like to say goodbye – just hasta luego.
Included in this Adventure
⸙ Bilingual on-site coordinator traveling with the group at all times
⸙ (7) nights of lodging (pricing based on double occupancy):
– (2) nights in Panama City
– (2) nights in Santa Catalina
– (3) nights in Coiba National Park
⸙ Round-trip ground transfer from Panama City to Santa Catalina
⸙ (3) days of three-tank boat dives
⸙ Dedicated Divemaster per every (4) divers
⸙ Welcome and Farewell dinner first and last days, as well as (3) healthful meals a day in-between
⸙ All gratuities (tips) and taxes included
*Participants are responsible for personal spending, airfare to/from destination, airport transfers, visa requirements, SCUBA gear (rentable with advance notice), NITROX fills, and insurance.
⸙ Participants MUST be Advanced Open Water Certified or higher
⸙ Must have four dives logged within last 6 months