Monday, September 13, 2010

Geocaching on Panama Canal Cruise

We're geocachers and brought our GPS with us on the Panama Canal cruise hoping to make some finds while on vacation.

For more information on geocaching, check the website www.geocaching.com

The first thing I had to do was check the ports of call on our Island Princess itinerary through the Panama Canal. Once I knew the ports my next stop was www.wikipedia.com where I typed in the name of the city or country and the port. Wikipedia shows the GPS coordinates of the port and from there I typed the coordinates in at www.geocaching.com and searched for nearby caches.

Then I had to do a little more research because I didn't know how close some of the caches were to the port. Was it within walking distance or would I have to take a bus, hire a taxi, etc. Keep in mind that many of these ports are in the sub-tropics or close to the equator and its hot and often humid and long walks might not be an ideal solution for many.

A good place to do some research is on the forum boards at the Cruise Critic website. www.cruisecritic.com Ask questions and people who have travelled to that location may know the answer.

The ports of call on the Island Princess are not going to be the same as other cruises but this will give you some idea what to find in the ports I visited.

Our first port of call was Aruba. I found the GPS coordinates on Wikipedia and then searched the Geocaching website for caches near the port. There's not any. There are caches a few miles from the port, namely Palm Beach and Eagle Beach that caught my eye, but how to get there? I then looked on the discussion boards of Cruise Critic under Aruba. I discovered the Number 10 bus departs from a terminal near the port and goes to those beaches. For more information on our adventures of geocaching in Aruba, see my blog here.

One of our fellow passengers on the Island Princess who is a more avid geocacher than us did a virtual cache that was within walking distance from the cruise ship terminal. That had something to do with a webcam and coordinating with someone in Ontario. I'd read that one and it seemed a little more complicated for us than what we want to do.

Our next stop was Cartagena. Again I checked Wikipedia and Geocaching and learned there is a cache hidden within the confines of the port area. However I also noticed there was an earth cache at the mud bath volcano in Totumo. Perfect seeing as how I'd already booked a shore excursion here. Kerry and our new geocaching friend did try to find that cache hidden in the port but gave up after half an hour. It had a level 5 difficulty - the hardest rating.

Traversing through the Panama Canal is a virtual cache that you can check out on Geocaching. This one and at Totumo are take photos, answer questions type of caches.

In Fuerte Amador (Panama City) there is supposedly a cache hidden in the port, a short walk from getting off the tender. Both us and our friend tried to find it but it wasn't there. Muggled! However, we did get a find during a private shore excursion we'd booked with My Friend Mario. They parked the bus about 500 feet away from where the cache was hidden and Mario accompanied us to find it.

In Costa Rica we docked at Puntarenas. There aren't any caches hidden here or within 20 miles so Costa Rica was a bust for us.

We had 3 ports of call in Mexico: Huatulco, Acapulco, and Cabo San Lucas. Seeing as how we'd booked a private shore excursion in Acapulco, I only printed out caches in Huatulco and Cabo San Lucas prior to leaving. There is one hidden in the bay where the cruise ship docks, however it was missing when we searched for it. There is another one hidden on a nearby street but I forgot to print that one or bring it with us on the cruise so luck in this town. In Cabo San Lucas there are a couple hidden within walking distance of the marina where the tenders dock and we found them both.

Good luck and happy geocaching!

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