For years, I've been wanting to visit Coiba Island. I'm a Panamanian citizen living abroad, and before moving away from Panama, whenever I thought about Coiba, the only idea showing up in mind was that of a harsh prison island full of dangerous residents. Just what every other Panamanian like me thought for decades. It's precisely that notion what has kept Coiba in a pristine condition, as few people were interested in visiting it until recent years. Only a few foreigners, brave enough to venture to a little-known country when compared to Costa Rica, were interested in visiting it, because of all of the natural marvels that Coiba has to offer.
Coiba is a haven for a great number of inland and sea-dwelling animals, just like other isolated islands off the Pacific coast of the Americas, like Cocos (Costa Rica), Malpelo (Colombia) and Galapagos (Ecuador). As a matter of fact, these wonderful biological reserves form a marine corridor where pelagic animals abound.
I spent 3 days in Coiba Island with a group which included good friends and my mom, and we had a great time. It was humpback whale mating season, so we couldn't help see a bunch of whales whenever we set out every single day from our camp. Sometimes even without leaving the camp, just across the bay. And there was wildlife everywhere we looked: scarlet macaws flying around the southern parts of the island; dolphins and whales jumping all over the place; reef sharks, rays, turtles and countless schools of fish in the countless coral reefs surrounding Coiba and neighboring islands, howler monkeys waking you up while taking a nap; etc.
The best part of it: we never saw any other person as far as our eyes could see whenever we left the camp, where there were between 10 and 14 more people (including park rangers and tour operator staff). It seemed like all of this natural bounty was flashing its beauty for our eyes only.
Now I just have to go back during another season. I already witnessed the humpback whale season, now I'd love to see the largest fish come to Coiba's waters during the whale shark season, from December to April...