Also known as Nancy’s Cay, Solarte is a seven-kilometer-long island situated two kilometers east of Isla Colón. The boat ride from Bocas town takes about 10 minutes.
Its western tip, Hospital Point, is one of the most popular diving and snorkeling spots in the archipelago. There are coral reefs just a few meters from the surface, but there’s also a wall that drops about 13 meters. A diving or snorkeling trip to Hospital Point is usually included as part of a tour of the islands.
The point is named for the hospital the United Fruit Company built here in 1900 for its labor force, which was being decimated by malaria, yellow fever, and other tropical diseases. The hospital closed in 1920 after a fungus known as Panama disease wiped out the banana plantations on the islands and surrounding shore, forcing the company to move its operations farther west.
The house on the point is the home of Clyde Stephens, who for 32 years was a banana researcher for United Fruit. He gives lectures on the history of the banana industry, and his books include a history of Hospital Point, which he bought in 1970. His books are available in Bocas town. Try the Bravo Center or Buena Vista Bar and Grill.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition