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This morning, Marcus and Laura are moving on so it’ll just be our family until tomorrow afternoon when another family with children arrives. I’m excited to be doing things with just our family today.

It seems especially humid today, so during breakfast we agreed that a trip to some water is in order. Zapatillas Island trip!

Grabbing our snorkeling gear and a few essentials, we headed out by boat with Natalie toward our first stop: Coral Key.

sleepy boat ride
You can tell the boys are getting worked over. They can’t stay awake if there’s a ride anywhere.

Coral Key

Dolphin Bay Hideaway calls this their “secret snorkeling spot” but we’re not the only ones who know about this place. Three or four other boats are already tied together here and you can see orange flotation devices bobbing up and down from a couple hundred yards out – other snorkelers.

We tied up to another boat and Kristian and I didn’t hesitate to suit up. Kristian went in first, while the boys whined about participating. Kole finally decided he didn’t want to let this opportunity pass him by, so he joined us in the water. Karter is still hesitant about snorkeling where he can’t touch, so he decided this activity isn’t for him and stayed in the boat with Natalie.

As soon as my legs were in the water, I felt a sharp sting on the back of my thigh. “Jellyfish,” I immediately thought. I put my face in and sure enough, there’s the little stinker floating by, guiltless. AGH. It hurts, but I’m not about to tell Kole that there are jellyfish or I know he won’t get in. He’s already been stung a couple of times in the last month – once in Texas and here, in Panama. Besides, I only see the one.

Kole slowly got in with a life jacket and the three of us floated around over an amazing piece of underwater art. The coral is indescribable. I cannot believe we forgot to bring our underwater camera AGAIN! Coral in every color of the rainbow. Fish in every color of the rainbow. The most amazing starfish – they look like fuzzy stuffed animals. Sea cucumber and eel, too! Again, I was so glad that at least one of my children was experiencing this. You don’t get an opportunity like this everyday (unless you live here, of course.) There’s a whole other world under there and we got to see part of it!

Back on the boat, we head another 45 minutes or so out into the sea. I can see some islands waaaaay out there, but they look like dots. That’s where we’re going: the Zapatillas Islands! There are 2 Zapatillas islands and we’re going to #2. I’m still not sure why they choose to take their guests to that one, but since we don’t know the difference, we don’t care.  🙂

zapatillasZapatillas 2 is on the right

Zapatillas Island 2!

We arrived on a white sand beach which was completely empty. We had heard that this beach is much more private than some of the others like Red Frog Beach, and it’s true. There is no one in sight and we can see 2 sides of the island almost completely.

zapatillas 2

The water is warm and the sand is soft. We walked a little ways through the shallow water before retrieving our snorkel gear from the boat. There’s a nifty current that starts on one side of the island and pulls you around the corner and down the other side. So you can float all along the sand without moving a muscle and see all kinds of sea life. If you try to swim against the current, you get a serious workout, which I did several times just to see if I could do it. After you’ve swam the length of it, you walk up the beach and start over and see all new fish!

zapatillas viewView of where we’d start floating with the current, the around to the right…

The fish here are different than the ones at Coral Key. They’re bigger! There are a few small brightly colored ones, too, and some of those crazy ones that look like rocks until they move like dusters along the ocean floor. Flounder?

After floating several lengths of the current, we had a pasta salad lunch and then took the 25 minute hike through the center of the island. Kole has accurately named the hiking trail “Mosquito Village.” It’s a 1/2 mile of wooden bridge over mosquito breeding grounds, followed by a 1/2 mile of walking around the perimeter of the island, dodging and swatting at huge, biting horse flies.

mosquito village

Leaving Zapatillas

dusk boat

It’s been a lovely day on Zapatillas Island, but we’re now ready to head home for dinner. It’s going to take about an hour to get back. When we arrived in Dolphin Bay, Natalie slowed down again so that we could watch for dolphins. Within about 5 minutes we started seeing them! Another 30 minutes following dolphins around got us some great pictures and video! So fun!


The evening ended with a lovely coconut oil-fried fish stick dinner. They were delicious! We haven’t had dessert in 3 or 4 days, so Erica brought us out some cherry ice cream. It tasted so good, but I’m not sure it wasn’t because I haven’t had much of anything sweet for several days. It went down real nice. 🙂

Tomorrow will be our last full day here at Dolphin Bay. I wonder what we’ll be doing tomorrow! Collecting fresh coconut? Hiking through the jungle? Relaxing and reading in a hammock? We’ll see!!!