With limited electricity on Isla de Coiba, we soon returned to the rhythm of the land — dozing off no long after sunset and rising naturally before sunrise. On our third day in Coiba National Park, we made the short walk over to the abandoned pier to catch front row seats to the show. The sky showed off a brilliant array of hues while eagle rays leapt out of the water, competing for our attention — and tempting Anders to futilely attempt to film them.
It was a beautiful start to a stunning day. Our first dive of the day was at Suena de Pescador. I was somewhat apprehensive after the previous afternoon’s incident, and the deep ocean moorings and the promise of bad visibility and strong current didn’t help. But I eased back in — I requested to be one of the last few to enter the water so I wouldn’t tire myself out waiting for the others to get in, I de-fogged my mask with care and asked the dive guide to bring a spare, and I told my dive buddy to stick close.
It was worth it. A giant stingray, an awe-inspiring school of jacks, and several snappy morays kept me smiling into my regulator throughout the dive.
Another day, another abandoned beach safety stop. This time we found one with dramatic dark sand — and, unfortunately, a cove filled to the brim with plastic waste washed in by the tides. It was a sad reminder that while completely undeveloped, even Coiba National Park is not safe from the influence of man.
Our second dive was at Sombrero de Pelo, a dive site known for great visibility and a resident colony of garden eels — the latter being notoriously difficult to photograph. So instead I turned my camera on more cooperative subjects, such as a gaping frogfish, an aggressive eel, and some of my fellow divers.
Our final dive of the day was at Mali Mali, which I quickly mentally renamed as Mucho Sharkies. While white-tip reef sharks had been present on pretty much every single one of our dives, on this one in particular they swarmed and swirled curiously around us. We had heard this dive site was a cleaning and feeding station for large pelagics and kept our eyes peeled through our masks for some manta rays — they, along with whale sharks, continued to allude us — but we had no luck in that particular department. There was, however, a whole ocean-worth of other fish to keep us busy.
That night we toasted to our final night on the island — and to the hope of seeing whale sharks. Among our group, as among most divers, they were almost an obsession, and we wouldn’t leave fully satisfied without seeing one.
Stay tuned for the final installment of posts
about our expedition into Coiba National Park!
Many thanks to Scuba Coiba for their hospitality. As always, you receive my thorough and honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.
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Curious about my underwater photography setup? Check out my Obsessions page for information on my camera gear, editing programs and more.