Our day began around 8 am, when Panama Pete’s tour van came to get us. We soon left the city and began our drive along Buena Ventura which was incredible! Green trees and mountains line the road, occasionally broken by strips of pristine Caribbean waters washing up just feet from your car window.
The drive to Isla Mamey (which is near the better known Isla Grande) takes about two hours. It’s not a bad ride at all, if you don’t get stuck in traffic, which we unfortunately did both ways.
Before arriving to our destination, we passed the ruins of Portobello, where the Conquistadors once held their treasures. They looked really interesting, and if we had time to stop, I would have loved to walk around. I was jealous of other people who were doing just that!
Finally, we pulled into a little village area where different boats put up their prices on a board for transportation to the islands; they ranged from $3-$10. However, this was included in the price of our tour. We took a narrow wooden boat, probably fifteen feet long on a beautiful ride through the clear turquoise waters. Once we arrived at Mamey, our guide paid another fee to a family who seemed to be in charge; there is a fee because the island is privately owned.
We put on our snorkeling gear and explored the reefs until we were tired. Here, the water is warm and the reefs are like mountains under the water, though they are only a few feet below. Small fish are abundant here, in brilliant colors of yellow, black and purple. All in all the trip was well worth it, but living here I couldn’t help thinking that driving there myself would have been a better option. However, for first time visitors, I highly recommend a tour service.