Coiba Island National Park consists of a group of Islands in the Pacific Ocean south of Veraguas Province. The park covers 270,125 hectares, of which about 80% is marine, the islands cover only 20% of the surface area. The waters around Coiba are very rich in life. There may be as many as 700 species of fish swimming in the waters around Coiba and some of those are present in large numbers.
While snorkeling near Coiba, you are often surrounded by hundreds of fish, mostly by small plankton-eating fish such as panamic sergeant majors and scissortails. The reefs are inhabited by morays, butterfly fish, angel fish, parrot fish, hawk fish, tile fish, moorish idols, wrasses, white-tipped reef-sharks (harmless) and many others. Occasionally, you may encounter a huge snapper, grouper or a nurse shark on the reef. The reefs are also home to turtles, mostly hawksbill and olive ridley turtles, but green turtles and loggerheads have been seen as well. The edges of the reef are often visited by blue-fin trevally and other species of jacks, trevallies, rainbow runners and occasionally schools of black-tail barracudas (harmless) also make a pass along the reefs. Wahoo, yellow fin tuna, sail fish and marlins roam the deeper waters of the park.
From the boat, one can often see spotted dolphins and from mid-July until mid-October, humpback whales are common in the waters around Coiba. The female humpbacks come to give birth in the warm waters of Coiba and sightings of mothers with calves are quite common.
The island is home to 36 species of mammals, 39 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 147 species of birds. Some of the land animals have been isolated from the mainland for so long that they have evolved into different species. The Coiba agouti and the Coiba howler monkeys are a different species from those you encounter on the mainland. These two and the Coiba spinetail (Cranioleuca dissita), a bird, only occur on Coiba and nowhere else in the world. Coiba is also the only place in Panama where you can see flocks of the threatened Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao).
Tanager Tourism has developed a tour that will allow you to experience Coiba at its best. We visit up to four different reefs, walk two different trails and take you on a boat ride through the mangrove. You are likely to see the Howler monkeys, the agoutis and colorful birds in the forest and turtles, many types of colorful reef fish and the harmless white-tip reef-shark on and along the reefs. From the boat, we regularly see dolphins (bottle-nosed and pacific spotted dolphins).
Coiba Snorkeling © Wouter Janssen