Coiba National Park, Panama

Dec 20, 2017 - National Geographic Quest

During three days of exploration in Costa Rica onboard National Geographic Quest, we had the amazing opportunity to learn about the fauna, flora, and culture by the hands of our naturalists and enjoyed this beautiful country. But it’s time to explore Panama and today we dropped anchor in one of the most important national parks in central America: Coiba.

In 1924, the President of Panama, Belisario Porras, decided to create a prison. The prisoners had to plant crops as a part of the program, and they exchanged their crops for other products or money to use for different purposes. The island used to have 21 different camp with prisoners for all the country.

During the 80’s the jail became very popular because the dictator of Panama, Manuel Antonio Noriega, sent those who didn’t support his corrupt Panamanian government away. The prisons in the ultimate protected area are now known as Coiba National Park.

Around 1995, the expedition ship Polaris, at the hand of expedition leader Larry Prussian, decided to explore this area protected by the Panama policemen. They were the first travelers to explore and enjoy the area. After 22 years we continue to explore this important area, considered by the Panamanian as a jewel of the Pacific Ocean. The space of the area is 80 % are tropical rainforest and the other 20% is beaches and mangrove ecosystems.

Today onboard National Geographic Quest, we stopped on a small island known as Granit de Oro, where we had the great opportunity to snorkel and see many varieties of fishes, sea turtle and white- tipped sharks.

Guest also enjoyed kayaking and paddle boarding while visiting Granito de Oro. After lunch we departed for the Bay of Panama and on the way encountered Pantropic spotted dolphin and bottlenose dolphin, then finished our day in Paradise with a beautiful sunset. 

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About the Author

Joshua Hall


Joshua Hall was born in Panama City and raised in the highlands of the Chiriquí province.  He studied ecotourism at a university in Panama and is currently pursuing a degree in tourism business administration.  His love of nature can be attributed to a lot of time spent traveling with his mother, a nurse at the Social Security Hospital.  In 1983, a foundation called Abundant Life was created in Panama.  The foundation was made up of a group of doctors and nurses with a passion for helping those in need.  They were pioneers in going to communities in Chiriquí, sometimes hiking more than 12 miles, where they took medicine, meals, and other needed items, often opening up trails guided by the indigenous residents.  Joshua participated as a child with his mother and developed a love for nature, rainforests, mangroves, coral reefs and the indigenous communities of Panama.

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