Lindblad Expeditions - From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica and Panama - Gustavo Abarca, expedition leader; River mouth pho
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From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Costa Rica and Panama

Jan 7, 2013 - National Geographic Sea Lion

Stranded mini submarine at San Telmo Island
River mouth at Isla del Rey

San Telmo Island & Isla del Rey, Pearl Islands

Last night, after closing our chapter crossing the Panama Canal, we were very eager to find a unique location, hence we decided to innovate and discover the southern section of the Pearl Islands. In recent years, this region has been rarely explored by National Geographic Sea Lion.

As expedition leaders, we center our decisions to explore new areas based in part on distances between destinations, tides, currents, wind direction and basic local references; this time they all looked ideal to explore Isla del Rey and Isla San Telmo. In addition to this, our hotel manager Erasmo Estripeut recommended a small, quiet beach on the northern side of San Telmo, where a stranded submarine more than 100 years old has been observed.

After scouting the entire San Telmo Bay, we found Erasmo was right. The beach at San Telmo was perfect; good shade, crystal waters and a good location to launch kayaks and enjoy some swimming and snorkeling. Nevertheless, there was something else on the agenda. Isla del Rey, with its spectacular scenery, was just a mile in front of our beach station. The shoreline, with a mix of light and golden-colored sand and a couple rocky formations, was too good to disregard.

We offered Zodiac rides in order to reach Isla del Rey with its idyllic tropical setting. To our surprise, there was a river mouth that included some pristine mangrove vegetation that we were able to fully explore. American oystercatchers, ruddy turnstones, great egrets, and white ibises were some of the main actors of this natural scenario.

Eventually we all returned to the ship in order to cover the 200 nautical miles to our next destination of Coiba National Park. Pantropical spotted dolphins escorted us as our first Pacific sunset of the week painted the sky with orange hues and left us with special memories of the Pearl Islands.