Diverse species of birds and animals, some of them unseen in any other parts of the world such as the Crested Eagle, Scarlet Macaw, Coiba Island Agouti, and the Mantled Howler Monkey, have made the Coiba National Park their home. The terrestrial flora and fauna are nurtured by the tropical rainforests and the moist pre-montane forests along with dense mangroves. Nearly 85% of the national park is untouched by civilization, thanks to the penal colony.
Coiba Island offers adventure seekers one of the best diving options. Lonely Planet claims that the diving spots in the Coiba Marine Park is the best diving to be found along the Pacific Coast from Columbia to Mexico. To a diver’s delight, the Coiba waters are unchartered, clear, warm, and nearly virgin. Diving off the cliffs formed by the emerging volcanic rocks or seamounts, you’ll see schools of colorful fish and other marine life under these rocks. Among the cohabitants of this marine world are several species of sharks, turtles, and the humpback whales. Amid the few species of hard and soft corals that are found in abundance, sea horses, pipe fish, frog fish, stargazers, shrimps, eels, and other colorful marine creatures swim around in gay abandon.
Panama’s National Authority of the Environment (ANAM) is entrusted with protecting and maintaining the resources of this vast island. ANAM has converted a fishing club into a Biological Station that has few rooms available for a small fee. In order to make the best use of your Coiba Island visit and cover the length and breadth of the marine park, you must stay for a couple of days and undertake activities including diving, snorkeling, fishing, bird watching, and hiking.
Reaching Coiba Island is itself an adventure. If you are heading for Coiba Island from Panama City, you may drive or fly to Santiago in Veraguas. Boats fly to the island from Puerto Mutis, which is about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Santiago.