Granito de Oro & Coiba Island

Dec 18, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

In 1513, the famous Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa decided to begin an expedition where over 400 men, both indigenous and Spanish, walked the dense jungle in search of another sea, one where the natives wore gold and houses were decorated with pearls, their women were beautiful and where friendship prevailed.

After walking for a long time, more than 20 days, they could see the South Sea (as named by Balboa). As they got to the coast, a knight held a ceremony to celebrate the discovery of the sea.

A boat was taken unarmed, assembled on site, and sailed for the Bay of Panama.  Along the way, the sailors discovered an island inhabited by native people. The natives were dressed gold, the women wore pearls. The island was called “King Island.”

Like the Spaniards, National Geographic Quest decided to explore the archipelago. We visited Granito de Oro Island, where we snorkeled and could see many varieties of fish. The underwater show was run by the hawksbill turtle and green Pacific turtle.  There are turtles everywhere, and our guests were happy to have the opportunity to join them.

Other guests enjoyed the paddleboard and kayaking. Part of our group decided to explore the inside of Coiba National Park, and they walked through the dense jungle to spot some birds like the lance tail manakin, bananaquit and more.

After many magical moments here, we’re ready to start our journey to beautiful Costa Rica.

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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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