We arrived in Panama with a lot of excitement! We visited Coiba National Park, and the unique white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and bright sunshine were the perfect combination for a great day.

We started with a nature walk at Rancheria, an island affiliated with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and a main base for studies about tropical rainforests. Our group observed lots of birds, including a king vulture soaring over the forest. We spotted lance-tailed manakins performing some of their best dance moves to attract females in a really interesting lek. We also saw a Coiba howler monkey, an endemic species from the country of Panama.

The views from the top of the island were great. The lookout point at the end of the trail is impressive.

Our day continued on Cocos Island. We were eager to get into the water to explore the area’s diversity. Some of us enjoyed kayaking and paddleboarding. Snorkeling was the icing on the cake. The variety of fish, the array of colors, and the warm water complemented our experience.