After 7 months living in Pedasí and 2 prior visits before moving, we finally visited Isla Iguana, a 58-hectare (140 acres) wildlife reserve island 7 kilometers (5 miles) off the coast from Pedasí of our friends have visited and written about it, perhaps several times. We have always wanted to go, but never found the right time. Saturday, our Pedasian friends PB and Dave invited us to join them and we are very glad we took them up on the offer.
PB arranged the trip with her friend, Jorge, who is a boat captain with a ponga (typical open motor boat, to take us over to the island for the day. The cost was $70, including gas, for the 4 of us for the day. We brought our coolers full of water, cerveza, fruit, salad, and sandwiches, beach chairs & towels, snorkeling equipment, sun screen, and cameras. From Playa Arenal, once we pushed the boat off the sand into the water, we headed out to the island around 9am with our life vests on. The water was somewhat choppy with some large swells, but Jorge is an excellent and experienced boat captain who navigated through the ocean waves very well. To Mikkel and I, it felt like riding a thrill ride at Disneyland. As we approached the island, the waves calmed down. I could see what looked like hundreds of pelicans and other sea birds on the end of a rocky coast. But then we came to a beautiful white sand cove surround by a coral reef. The tide was out, so Jorge lifted the boat motor propeller up above the coral and allowed the surf to bring us in to the beach.
After emptying the boat of our gear, Jorge and another friend he brought took off to go fishing for red snapper, promising to return around 2pm to check on us. We parked our equipment under a palm tree and then walked over to the visitor center to pay the entrance fee – $10 per person if you are a turista, $4 per per “residente” (Yeah! Mikkel & I are residentes).
It was a gorgeous day. We swam for awhile, laid out in the sun, and ate lunch. Then we went snorkeling. Finally, we get to use the snorkeling equipment we bought through craigslist the last time we were in Panamá for only $10 from a couple moving to England. The tide had come in and I noticed it was deeper now closer to the beach. We viewed through our masks in the clear water so many beautiful and colorful fish of all sizes and shapes, including lots of Parrot fish. It had been a very long time that I had ever snorkeled, but it all came back to me very easily and I enjoyed swimming above the coral reef breathing through my mouthpiece for what seemed like a long time. Meanwhile, Mikkel took several picture with our Nikon underwater camera, although the colors did not turn out as vibrant as what we actually saw.
Jorge arrived back at about 2:30pm after catching 10 red snapper. PB fixed lunch for him and his friend as we rested on our mat under the palm tree. Hermit crabs started making lots of tracks on the sand as they walked around us. And of course, hence the island’s name, several iguana came out from the jungle to take in the sun and perhaps a crumb of food left by nearby picnickers.
At about 4pm, we all packed the boat and headed back to the mainland. The ocean was a lot smoother this time. I observed several pelicans gliding past the boat at a faster speed, and schools of fish jumping out over the waves. It took a lot less time to return. We approached Playa Arenal, and Jorge drove the boat up onto the shore. Later Dave towed the boat with a rope attached to his pickup to pull the boat up further. This is how it is done for all the pongas here; no dock, just drive the boats up onto the beach.
Even with applying sun screen a couple of times that day, and sitting under a palm tree, I managed to get a little burnt on my face and shoulders. But today was another wonderful experience and we had so much fun sharing it with our friends. For anyone who comes to visit or live in Pedasí, this adventure is a must. Wish we could have done it sooner, but do plan to return to the island the next chance we get. We have been blessed with so many new experiences in our retired “Third Life”. I never thought I would be living like this when I retired, but now I really am. This is my home and I am so grateful to God for all He continues to provide.