Landing in Piña Bay is part of the adventure as the landing track begins at the Pacific Ocean's sea shore, going through the village and finishing in the middle of the tropical forest. This little coast town, located 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the Colombian border, has a population of around 900 people.
‘Panama’ means abundance of fish according to indigenous language. Sport fishing is practiced in the Pacific Ocean and Piña Bay is the best place. Oceanic currents rich in nutrients converge in Panama. The Humboldt current brings cold water from Antarctica going up the shore of South America. Warm waters go down from Costa Rica creating a zone full of plankton that feeds bait fish necessary for bigger fish.
Tropic Star Lodge or "Tropi" as the locals call it, is a five star hotel located on a hill in the jungle. This hotel was founded in 1961 by a Texas oil tycoon. He opened it with the name ‘Club de Pesca’ (Fishing Club) and immediately started breaking fishing world records. Its current name was given by its next owner and almost 60 years later has achieved about 300 world fishing records, more than any other site in the world.
This fishing lodge in Piña Bay is very famous because it has been published in many magazines internationally. Is important to consider that Tropic Star Lodge closes during the months of October and November. The best season for marlin is from December to mid March and from July to September. Tuna fishing is good all year round. There is another lodging option in Piña Bay called Piña Bay Lodge.
Fishing in Piña Bay is so good because of Zane Grey reef, named after its discoverer who arrived in the 1920s looking for the best place to catch black marlin. This reef is located 20 minutes from the shore and is really a big marine mountain. The conservationist Guy Harvey made a 205 feet dive to photograph and gather information about the site. “Close to the surface you can find 4 species of marlin: black, blue, striped and sail fish. Other predators like dolphin fish (mahi mahi), yellow fin tuna and others mingle crowding the waters at Zane Grey reef” says his report. This is a protected area by the Panamanian government that does not allows commercial fishing and require fish to be released after catch.
Beaches and Sea shore
Playa Blanca is a small white sand beach ideal for visitors to relax and enjoy the sun. In the area there are coral reefs with thousands of fish for those who prefer to go snorkeling. Piña Bay is small and narrow, but its diversity is impressive. Its waters are frequently visited by bottle nose dolphins and humpback whales from June to October.
Trekking lovers can go to Rio Piña waterfall two hours away. You can bathe in it, appreciate endemic species and observe many birds on the way. This zone is a natural corridor at the base of Sapo mountain range, being Piña Hill, the highest point at 1300 meters above sea level.
Encounters with indigenous people
Tropic Star Lodge organize traditional indigenous dances for its guests. A more realistic experience is to visit the villages of the Embera Wounaan or Choco people via "piragua" (a wooden boat) through Jaque River. They sell hand crafts made of wood or tagua or hand-knitted baskets. Visitors can taste traditional dishes and visit their housing built on stilts 8 feet over the ground.