PPP #05 Taboga - The Island of Flowers

During a fair on stipends and opportunities to go abroad at the UTP I met some other interns and students of the uni! Amazing people from Portugal, Mexico, Honduras and Poland. We had a coffee together and got to know each other. They are very down to earth and easy-going people. Before we each left for office and studies again, some people invited me to join them on a trip to Taboga. "Of course! That would be awesome!" was the instinctive answer, because after all I'm not here to spend the weekends with work. "Uhh, and what is Taboga exactly?" was the follow-up question. Now I can answer it! It's a beautiful volcanic island located in the Gulf of Panama. Ferries towards Taboga leave daily from the Amador Causeway and roughly take 40 minutes to reach land again. On the way there we had an amazing view on the giant container ships waiting for passage through the Panama Canal.

Waiting container ships

The air is much cleaner than in the city while maintaining the same tropical rain forest climate. That means high humidity (85% to 100%) and average daytime temperatures of 28°C. With the fresh air however it's much more bearable than inside the city! On Taboga you're surrounded by nature in a fairly small village with nice people. While tourism is the main income source, we did not see too many people and on Saturday the beach was almost empty. We slept in a small house that was kindly provided to us by a nice lady in a nearby restaurant - one night, $15 per person. Neat! In the evening we enjoyed the beach view at dawn with some ice-cold Balboa (the best beer I found here so far!). While exploring the rest of the village we met a Venezulean who showed us around and took us to a nice pizza place where we enjoyed the rest of the evening.

The view of Taboga beach

The next day we headed back to the beach. By that time I already had gained the nickname "El camarón" - the shrimp. The past day I put on sunscreen but did not put on new screen regularly and missed out some spots because of sand being in the way. Long story short: I got the sunburn of my life. We're not talking about red skin here. We're talking about violet burn marks - especially on the feet. Still, optimism and the drive for adventure are stronger than pain. So hobbling and this time soaked in sunscreen, I went back to the beach. I joined in on a kayak tour to explore the surroundings of El Morro, that big mountain in front of the island. Regularly a bright screecy sound would emerge from the mountaintop - the screams of the vultures living there. Being able to occasionally put my sore feet into the cold, clear waters and watching the luxurious boats from close, this was definitely the highlight of the trip!

Kayak with friends!

All in all Taboga is a really beautiful place to visit and worth every cent. While the ferry (one way, $10), room and kayak (one hour, $10) were quite cheap, the food can be quite expensive, depending where you eat. A good tip is to check out the small shops on the street for a quick snack or cold beverages. It's an island that has much more to offer and I will come back for sure to explore some more and relax on the beach (with plenty of sunscreen).

Baruc, an amazing friend from the trip put together this neat compilation. Thanks for that!