Weekend getaway: Historic Portobelo and Caribbean Beaches

By:  Carina Forster – Intern from Austria

Insider tipp: Last weekend I explored the charming small town of Portobelo on the Caribbean Coast which is a hotspot for Panamanian weekend retreats; however, it still remains mainly unexplored by foreign tourists. The only way of getting there- except from day tour with a tour operator EcoCircuitos Panama – involved a bumpy ride in a colorful old school bus, where happy salsa music loudly went along with the roaring old engines of the rattling bus.

It was hard to believe that this laid-back village has once hosted Central America`s most important harbor. Only the old ruins and the UNESCO forts, which are spread out all over the charming fishing village, prove of its glorious past.  If you tour with a naturalist and interpretative guide you will travel to the battles between Pirates and Conquistadors.

A short boat ride away, I found cast-away Caribbean beaches, where lush rain forests meet white sand, turquoise waters and coral reefs. And while already being astonished by the unreal beauty surrounding me, two toucans were peacefully flying over the picturesque bay, forming a scenario like in a dream.

If you are interested in this tour and many more, please contact us for more information.  We offer snorkeling tours in the Caribbean side of Portobello.  Contact info@ecocircuitos.com

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COIBA National Park – Attractions and Activities

Located in the Gulf of Chiriquí, Coiba National Park is a marine reserve off Panama’s Pacific coast. Coiba National Park (Nacional Parque Coiba) is comprised of a group of 38 islands including Coiba Island (Isla Coiba) and the waters surrounding them and covers 430,825 acres. Identified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2005, Coiba National Park offers rich and well preserved natural resources.

Because Isla Coiba served Panama as a penal colony, access to the island was very restricted. Almost by accident, 80% of the islands’ natural resources have therefore survived untouched and flourished through limited human contact.

Coiba National Park is managed by the National Authority for the Environment (Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente, ANAM). The park is accessible only by permit from ANAM.  A number of tour operators in Panama, including EcoCircuitos Panama offer adventure tours, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving trips to Coiba and can assist in obtaining appropriate permits.

The tour operators depart from several different places on the Panamanian coast.

Attractions in Coiba includes:
• Exhibition and Information Center, Park Ranger Station.
• Viewing Platforms (Miradores) El Gambute.
• Thermal Springs and Nature Interpretation Trial.
• Monkey Trail.
• Nature Interpretation Trail to ancient Mangrove Forest of Santa Cruz.
• Trial to the Waterfall at Juncal.
• Nature Interpretation Trail to the Volcanic Rift Valley.
• Volcanic Fault.
• The Island Granito de Oro (Grain of Gold)
• The Penal Colony, La Central Camp.
• Nature Interpretation trails of Jicaron and Jicarita.
• River Kayaking. Rio San Juan and Punta Hermosa.
• Nature Interpretation Trail on Isla Rancheria.
• Nature Interpretation Trail Isla Brincanco, Archipelago of Contreras.

Source:  http://www.coibanationalpark.com/