One of my top five, all time greatest places I’ve been, is a little island on the Pacific side of the Panama Bay called Isla Taboga. The island has a rough history, as it’s been used for US World War II artillery practice (you’ll get some odd photos – there’s you, there’s your friend in the beautiful blue water, there’s the white sand… there’s the artillery weapon getting engulfed by vines on the tiny island in the background), and there’s a large looted cemetery that had something to do with one of the French attempts to build the Panama Canal. But the Island is covered, covered, *covered* with flowers, and as you stroll down the islands one main road, through it’s “city” of San Pedro, (turn left after getting off the ferry – the only way to get to the island) you can breathe in their delicious scents. You’ll see friendly people walking aimlessly about, with various states of housing (but mostly brightly colored and sea-weathered) and the odd chicken or cat. Pay tribute to Virgen del Carmen, the patron saint of the island, and, if you ask nicely with a smile (and ask in Spanish) the caretakers of the island’s main church will let you up into the bell tower, where you not only get a great view, but also a great sense of peace. There’s snorkeling available, as well as a short hike up Cerra de la Cruz (where more WWII leftovers dot the landscape, as well as a giant cross), and you can always check out the bird refuge, the Refugio Vida Silvestre Islas Taboga y Urabá, on the south side of the island. But the best thing to do during your stay on the island? Swim, sun, sit, and relax.
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