Imagine a place that takes you back in time where animals and plants reign, where large volcanic rocks jut from the ocean like oversized black dominos, and where sea creatures are not imagined, but partner with you on your ocean adventure. This is Islas Secas, a private, 16-island archipelago, located just 25 miles off the coast of Panama.
Travelers who seek an uplugged, off-the-grid, eco-destination will relish an opportunity to visit Islas Secas. Upon arrival I was promptly offered a Panamanian styled smoothie, a cool towel and warm welcome. I settled into my personal Casita, which is very similar to a luxury yurt (wood framed-home). Guests who relish intimate retreats will find that with only seven Casitas scattered about on the main island, and only 14 guests at any given time, that Islas Secas is truly a remote oasis. After my bags were unpacked I was offered the option of a nap in a hammock or a private massage. I however, was eager to start my adventure and get acquainted with the vibrant seas that surround the islands, which I learned are teaming with tropical fish, and the occasional endangered loggerhead or olive ridley turtles. I was advised that kayaks and snorkel gear are always available as is a personal guide.
The island tour guide is Kieron Baudains, the resort’s General Manager and adventure concierge. Baudains helped me figure out what beaches are best to spot frigate birds or yellow-footed boobies, ospreys, mangrove hawks and more. He also told me about the best hiking/walking excursions, what to look for and what to be on the lookout for, and he pointed out the best snorkeling spots to see amazing sea life such as: parrotfish, angelfish, butterfly, blue tang and eagle rays. As the tour progressed, I noticed the stress and tension of the everyday start to melt away as the remoteness of the area took over bringing about a peaceful quietude that is only found in Mother Nature.
My “day of desertion” was quite a memorable one and is designed for couples who desire a day of total nothingness and who want to rekindle their romantic spark. The resort staff happily planed a full day of organized nothingness on Isla Pargo, an island that offers bleached-white sandy beaches, gorgeous driftwood and crystal clear turquoise waters. A private boat was at the ready, complete with a gourmet champagne picnic lunch along with kayaks, walkie-talkies and beach necessities.
To continue my dedicated day of romance, I requested an intimate evening at Sunset Deck. Perched atop a cliff, Sunset Deck provides a very memorable way to watch the sun dip into the Pacific Ocean while enjoying sumptuous hors d’oeuvres and champagne. A waiter stood by to attend my every need.
After a day of total coupledom, I learned that a communal gourmet dinner awaits at the Terraza. The Terraza is the main entertainment hub, where guests gather for homemade breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pre-dinner cocktails and appetizers were followed by a delicious entrée and decadent dessert, all prepared under the watchful eye of the resort’s Executive Chef, Alex Rojas. Rojas is Panamanian and his love of the land helps him naturally infuse indigenous ingredients that define his menus as a “burst of Panamanian flavors with French and Asian influences”.
After a day of total relaxation a day of adventure was in order. The resort is the poster child for eco-adventures as diving, snorkeling, kayaking, bird watching, paddle boarding, sailing and of course swimming are the call of the day.
I wanted to learn more about fishing and meet the resort’s renowned fishing director, Carter Andrews. He’s been spotted on covers of fishing magazines and even seen on ESPN in a cameo role. The diversity and size of fish in this area are remarkable and known throughout the fishing world. We visited the top fishing spots: Hannibal Bank and Isla Montuosa. A sumptuous Tuna Tatake was on the menu for dinner that evening.
Hiking these undeveloped islands can be quite the adventure. I learned that Isla Cavada is home to four miles of hiking trails. I didn’t want to miss, the magnificent 300-year old cedar tree, so I hiked an easy trail to view this magnificent tree. I also enjoyed a moderate hike up the east face of Isla Barracuda to the lighthouse, which offers fantastic views of Coiba National Park and panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding islands. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) identified Coiba National Park as a World Heritage Site in 2005.
Regardless of the adventure, upon returning home, a bit of Islas Secas will remain with me forever, as the wonder and beauty of it all is remembered as the travel escape de jour! For more information visit www.islassecas.com, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-377-8877.