Goza Taboga Tour
Taboga Island Panama tour center


Taboga San Pedro Village Walk



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Guided Tour information


  • Tickets: Purchased in advance
  • Start location: Agua Sol Villa Lodge
  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Tour Time: 2.5 hours
  • Price: $12 PP   min: 2 persons  max: 10
  • What to bring: Sandals or shoes, Shorts, hat,  Camera, light te shirt,
  • Difficulty; Easy walk, medium climbing, walking on shore,
  • Options: Water, refreshment, breakfast, Lunch, dinner, Ocean Rock Cafe, menu selection
  • Ages: minimum 4 years and up


San Pedro Village Tour


What you will see:  Church interior, Plaza, government buildings, remains of homes, many shrines, narrow walk ways between homes, flowers, foundations of old buildings, colorful buildings, chickens, roosters, birds, parks, cemetary, small stores, beach ramps, views of taboga bay, fishing boats, restored historic buildings, old wooden homes, small home gardens,


The Taboga Image slide show is of the village, beach, home gardens, shore rocks, bay ocean, mountains,


The Islas Taboga group consists of ten main islands and dozens of smaller ones 20km (12 miles) south of Panama City. The largest, Isla Taboga is a mere 571 hectares but boasts a rich history. Isla Morro is connected to Taboga during low tide and is approximately one square hectare.


History

Vasco Nuñez de Balboa discovered Islas Taboga and Morro in 1513. Taboga was inhabited until 1515 by indigenous Indians who lived in thatch huts and fished for their lively hood. In 1533, the Spaniards sailed to the island to establish a settlement, but as in many areas the new Americas they first killed or enslaved the Indians and took their gold. The settlement was constructed two years after Balboa first sighted the Pacific and before the city of Panama was founded. Taboga island’s original name was ‘Aboga’, which originated from the Indian word meaning “an abundance of fish”. El Morro is Spanish for a rounded hill or promontory.


Taboga Bay is key to Panama´s Development

Isla Taboga and Isla Morro share a bay which was deep enough for the sailing ships to drop anchor and find safe harbor. The City of Panama had no such bay since it was too shallow, therefore ships would use Taboga to drop anchor and if they had business in Panama they would take much smaller craft to the Panama City. Taboga and Morro as strategic locations for a thriving settlement with a church, fort, shipyards, and a harbor, and fresh water was abundant which was not the case on any of the neighboring islands.


San Pedro was founded

In 1524 the town of San Pedro was founded by Father Hernando de Luque who built a villa on the island and Morro began was developed.


Francisco Pizarro´s Role

An expedition, led by Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almorgo to conquer Peru was financed by Padre Luque. The Spaniards continued to colonize Taboga and had the place to themselves until 1549, when Panama freed its Indian slaves and a number of them chose to make Taboga their home. During this time, a fort was built on Isla Morro to protect Taboga and its important bay.


Pirates on Taboga

When Spaniards settled here, Taboga had little peace. Pirates, including the famous Henry Morgan and Francis Drake, frequented the island, using the harbor as a base to attack Spanish ships and the town itself, or simply as a place to catch their breath and stock up on supplies between raids.


On August 22, 1686 the ship of Captain Townley, who was in command of English and French buccaneers, was in Taboga Bay when it was attacked by three Spanish ships. During the ensuing battle one of the Spanish ships blew up, and Townley’s men were able to confiscate three vessels.


The pirates had taken prisoner a number of Spaniards but lost one man and had 22 wounded, including Townley himself. The buccaneer captain sent a messenger to the President of Panama demanding supplies, the release of five pirates being held prisoner, and ransom for Townley’s many captives. Townley said that heads would roll if his demands weren’t met and when the president ignored the threat by sending only medicine, Townley sent him the severed heads of 20 Spaniards in a canoe. This got the president’s attention, resulting in the release of five prisoners and payment of a large ransom. Townley had won another battle, but he died of his wounds on September 9.


During the wars of Independence in Latin America, Three cannons on El Morro, manned by 10 Spanish soldiers in 1819, fought off the attacks of Captain John Illingworth and his party of Chileans. During a second attack, however, the invaders took Taboga, sacked and burned the village and the inhabitants fled to the hills. Three of the pirates were killed and buried by the villagers, who marked their graves with wooden crosses which were later replaced. To this day, Taboganos in the vicinity of “Las Tres Cruces” light candles in memory of the three who dared to disturb the peace of their little island. (Tress Crosses Tour)


Taboga As a transportation center. (Morro Island tour)

travelers crossing Panama heading to the west coasts of north or south America used Taboga Island and Morro as a safe haven to stay until boarding a ship for their destination. A number of companies, mostly British and some Dutch, had a full set of services on the “Morrón” (Isla Morro), including a small theater. There was a shipyard with shipbuilders to maintain the ships.


Pacific Steamship Navigation Company  establishes El Morro service facility

El Morro played an important role in world shipping. The Pacific Steamship Navigation Company of England, which had ships steaming between England and the Pacific ports of South America, extended its route to include Panama. Aware of the abundance of supplies, drinkable water, and general healthy conditions on the island, the company purchased El Morro around 1840. They built workshops, a ship repair facility, dry dock, supply stores and a coaling station operated by Irish crews. The Pacific Steamship Navigation Company had a fleet of a fleet of twelve vessels used to transport passengers and cargo between Valparaiso, Chile and Isla Taboga.


The California Gold Rush Connection

The completion of the Panama railroad in the middle 1850’s put Pacific Steamship Navigation Company out of business. It was at about this time, too, that the ‘49 er’ discovered the healthy aspects of Taboga, thousands of the adventurers spent time in Taboga boarding houses then departed to the California Gold Rush.


Cemetery on El Morro

Isla Morro is the site of a small cemetery at the top which became last resting place for some travelers of the Cruces Trail (heading for the Gold Rush) who “imported” to Taboga deadly fevers uncommon on the tiny island. Plus canal workers who did not survive their convalescence on Taboga were also buried there. A trace of Anglo-Saxon names can still be seen on the fallen tombstones in the cemetery. San Pedro village has cemetery in remembrance  for local families, workers and travelers back centuries.


Seat of Government

During these years, Taboga was the seat of government for all the islands in the Gulf of Panama, including Las Perlas Islands and Taboganos prospered. It was their Golden Age until the Pacific Steamship Company moved their ship works to Callao, Peru.

Today on Isla Morro you can still see foundation of the Pacific Steamship Company building and pier,  look for hand-blown bottles bearing the company’s crest.


The Canal Connection

From 1883-84 when the Ferdinand de Lesseps of France tried to build the canal across the isthmus (Panama Railroad Company), Taboga once again became the site for recovering employees when the Compagnie Universelle’s Sanitary Services used the sanitarium for employees who contracted yellow fever or malaria. Some of their employees who did not recover were buried on El Morro.


Paul Gauguin (Village Tour)

The famous French painter Paul Gauguin sailed to Panama in 1887. Without money he was forced to work for six months as a laborer excavating today’s Culebra Cut (Panama Canal). During his time in Panama he stayed on Taboga when he considered buying land there when he was hospitalized twice at the French hospital on Taboga.


Aspinwall

The sanitarium building was later taken over by the United States in 1905 when they assumed the building of the Panama Canal as a rest and recuperation center for canal workers.  It served this purpose until January 1915, when it became a vacation resort for employees and their families and was known as Hotel Aspinwall.


Aspinwall during World War I  (no remains)

Later during WWI, Aspinwall was converted into an internment camp for German prisoners during World War I. After the war it was once again a hotel and recreation center and was the hub of Taboga’s social life until 1945. The Aspinwall is now gone but many Panamanians remember it during that by-gone era. Aspinwall was a sanatorium built in 1885 by Universal Interoceanic Canal Company on Taboga Island for employees to rest and recuperate after falling ill while working on the French Panama Canal. Canal construction was first attempted by Frenchman, Ferdinand de Lesseps. Many workers contracted malaria, yellow fever and other diseases. It later became a hotel until it was demolished in 1945.


World War II, Taboga and Morro´s Role

During World War II, the U.S. Navy had a “mosquito boat” training base on El Morro and the US Navy used the broad hill on Taboga facing the town for artillery practice. The heroic record of these boats in the Pacific theater of war proved the efficiency of the officers and sailors on El Morro. At that time the US military also installed searchlights, anti aircraft guns and bunkers atop the island which they abandoned in 1960, but the site can still be visited. Today, a modern aerial navigation aid at the top of Picacho del Vigia (Mirador) hill guides all aircraft to the isthmus, and the Panama City airports.


History

La Restinga was the area where the largest hotel was built which later became Hotel Taboga. It was demolished in 2006.


Military and Aviation (Tress Crosses Tour)

WWII: In the 1940’s the US Navy who had a training base on Taboga, used the broad hill just under the Spanish Cross for their artillery practice. The military built bunkers, installed search lights and anti-aircraft guns on top of the hills. The guns on Taboga and El Morro were used to increase the security of the Panama Canal which was considered at risk. The last of the US Navy left Taboga in 1960, but the bunkers can still be seen. Taboga is still visited by retired US Navy servicemen every year, often with their families, who recall their special days on this peaceful Pacific island.

Taboga Island was the site of a German internment camp in 1917. The prisoners were later moved to New York under great protest.

Taboga was at the center of attempted Japanese espionage when Yoshitaro Amana, leader of a Japanese spy ring, planned to set up a business on Taboga so that the Japanese could study ships passing through the Panama Canal. He was exposed and deported to Japan.

Nearby where the old military bunkers were located at the top of the mountain (called the Watchtower) is a modern aviation tower which guides international flights to the Panama airports.


Religion

The first saint of the Western World, Santa Rosa de Lima was born on the island of Taboga and later moved to Peru. Her parents lived in a small house on the beach near Playa Honda. She was known for her kindness, and her fame spread; many of the suffering came to her for comfort and guidance.


The church of San Pedro on Taboga Island is said to be the second oldest in the western hemisphere.  My Research has not located any living church in all the Americas older than the Taboga church.  


Culture

Paul Gauguin and painter Charles Laval came to Panama in 1887, running short of money they went to work on the French Canal. Gauguin lived on Taboga twice before departing for Martinique. Poets, painters, musicians, film makers and photographers still visit Taboga to this day because of its enchanting and endless inspiration.


Nature  (Wild life will be spotted on tours)

  • Taboga is one of the world’s largest refuges for the brown pelican, where each year between one third to one half of the world population between 35,000 and 100,000 nest on Taboga and Uraba Islands. May is the height of nesting season, but pelicans can be seen year round.Other seabirds seek refuge on Taboga including cormorants, boobies and frigate birds. Hawks, falcons and vultures plus a variety of smaller songbirds and hummingbirds can also be seen.  plus many colorful butterflies, blue, black and orange, brown, Red, Yellow etc.

  • Humpback or Sea whales can be spotted in season on migration to and from their feeding zones, and all year round dolphins can be sighted generally on a boat ride and seldom from shore.

  • Iguanas and their eggs were a favorite food of the island and are sometimes still illegally hunted today.

  • sea turtles can still be seen laying their eggs on the shores of Taboga on some of the hidden coves.

  • species of tiny green tree frog which is only found on the island. It changed from the mainland frog and has a pattern which is slightly different.

  • Taboga Island has no large animals. To name a few of the smaller residents which can still be sighted: the Tamandua Anteater, 2 Toed Sloth, Nyecke (looks like a small rabbit or hedgehog),numerous butterflies, birds, purple land crabs, iguanas, and green dart frogs.



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