Panama is more than the undisputed link between South America and Central America; it’s an incredible destination with exotic beauty, mysticism, and a unique culture. Though not as popular as the Panama Canal, the Panama islands are one major fascinating aspect of this country owing to their tropical signature, stunning beaches, an array of watersports, untouched realms, and some amazing wildlife. But which ones of these to visit? Fret not. We got you a list of the 10 best islands you must visit in Panama for a surreal and serene tropical getaway!
Top 10 Panama Islands
Laden with uncharted beauty, each Panama island is different from another in terms of its terrain, people, landscapes, and what adventures it offers. Here are our top picks where you can tune in to its Karmic energy:
- Isla Iguana: For A Boat Ride And Birdwatching!
- Isla Taboga: For Beaches And Historic Hikes!
- Isla Barro Colorado: For Nature Lovers!
- Gulf Of Chiriqui Islands: For Snorkeling & Surfing!
- Isla Carenero: For An Exotic Stay!
- Isla Bastimentos: For Beachside Snacks & Drinks!
- Coiba: For Coral Reefs And Marine Life!
- Isla Contadora: For Whale Watching!
- San Blas Islands: For Tranquil Atmosphere!
- Isla Colon: For Shopping & Clicking Pictures!
10. Isla Iguana: For A Boat Ride And Birdwatching!
Located a mere few miles off the coast of the Azuero Peninsula in Southern Panama and a part of the Isla Iguana Wildlife Refuge, Isla Iguana is among the top visited Panama islands. Perfect for a boat ride and a day trip, Isla Iguana offers a lot of adventure and thrill to visitors who come here. One can go snorkeling in the large coral reef, scuba dive to the depths to see over 200 species of fish like humpback whales, moray eels, or even octopus. Isla Iguana is also famous among birders for its wide variety of bird species.
9. Isla Taboga: For Beaches And Historic Hikes!
The Isla Taboga, or Island of Flowers as it’s popularly called, is only accessible by boat from the Panama City. Visitors love it for its isolation and tranquility! Originally inhabited by Indians, the island was frequented by pirates before falling under British, Spanish, French, and American influences. This has contributed immensely to its cultural charm and eccentricity and makes it the top choice among Panama islands one should visit.
The three most prominent parts of the island one must explore include: beaches (especially Playa Restinga), historic hikes, and the island’s church.
8. Isla Barro Colorado: For Nature Lovers!
The Isla Barro Colorado has a very interesting history behind its creation, and its peculiarity is what makes it one of the best islands in Panama. Located in the middle of the Panama Canal, it was formed out of the waters of a local river that was dammed during construction. Now a nature reserve, this island offers up as a beautiful destination with unparalleled biodiversity.
With gorgeous hues of toucans, bold green tree frogs, meadows of flowers on forest floors, as well as three-toed sloths that can be spotted here, it’s one of the most fascinating islands in Panama for hikers and nature lovers. One can reach the island via a boat from Gamboa.
Tip: One needs to book a formal tour to visit.
7. Gulf Of Chiriqui Islands: For Snorkeling & Surfing!
The Gulf of Chiriqui is a collection of many islands, most of which were uninhabited until recently. Now home to some exotic resorts, these Panama islands have become the major activity hubs for snorkelers, surfers, and divers owing to their fantastic coral reefs, marine biodiversity, and high waves. One of the most prominent parts of this island group is the Boca Chica Island that owes its popularity among hikers to its rainforests.
Another one among the Panama islands map is the sister islands of Boca Brava and Isla Palenque where you can spot howler monkeys in the wild. One can easily get to these islands by boat.
6. Isla Carenero: For An Exotic Stay!
Among the most fascinating Panama islands in Bocas del Toro, Isla Carenero is a small and thin islet on the Caribbean coastline. It’s so small that one can hike the entire perimeter of the island in under an hour! This tiny stretch of white sand is located right next to the much larger Isla Colón. Other than hiking, the island is also famous as one of the top surfing spots in Panama. Other than this, it’s also ideal stand-up paddleboarding.
You can either stay in the exotic accommodation options on the island or just visit this mini paradise on a day trip for its laid-back atmosphere and relaxed way of life. This island is accessible by boat.
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5. Isla Bastimentos: For Beachside Snacks & Drinks!
A quiet and scenic paradise deprived of cars and roads, Bocas del Toro archipelago is Isla Bastimentos, a quiet and scenic destination without cars or even roads. Far away from the chaos of urbanization, the only actual town on the island is the small settlement of Old Bank, that has a handful of rustic structures lining the coast. The biggest attraction of Bastimentos is its access to the beautiful beaches on the island.
A comparatively secluded spot, the Wizard Beach is among the best beaches to visit in Panama island that boasts mind-blowing surfing conditions. Another one is the Red Frog Beach, the island’s busiest beach where you can enjoy the stunning views with a beachside snack and cola in hand!
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4. Coiba: For Coral Reefs And Marine Life!
Once called the Devil’s Island, Coiba is the largest island in Central America. The entire Coiba island including many of the surrounding islands and islets collectively are the Coiba National Marine Park. The park is well known for its amazingly colourful coral reef and abundance of underwater marine life. The island is perfect for a day trip where one can opt for guided sightseeing tours and indulge in myriad water adventures like snorkeling, surfing, and scuba-diving.
3. Isla Contadora: For Whale Watching!
The Pearl Islands Panama is a serene archipelago in the Gulf of Mexico. Officially known as the Isla Contadora, these islands had served as the filming location for various seasons of the popular TV show ‘Survivor’. Closely located, you won’t need to search for any of these Panama island location and you can easily reach one from the either by boat.
Contadora is the most developed island here and it houses the marvelous beach of Playa Larga that can whisk you off your feet with its looks and its picturesque shipwrecked ferry boat resting on the sand. While whale watching is an ideal thing to do here, many people also come for fishing and take home delicious varieties of mahi mahi, sailfish, and marlin.
2. San Blas Islands: For Tranquil Atmosphere!
Another one among the most picture-perfect and the best islands in Panama, San Blas lies east of the Panama Canal and north of the Isthmus of Panama. Only 50 of the 300 archipelagos of this island are inhabited, which makes it a quite secluded and mysterious part of the whole panama islands vacation islands map. While on a San Blas islands tour you can meet the primary residents of this group of islands, the warm and welcoming Kuna People who speak Tulekaya and self-govern the entire archipelago. This is what makes the San Blas archipelago completely different from other islands of Panama, and a must visit for all kinds of travelers.
When here, don’t forget to admire the colorful local dress of the natives and relax on the scenic beaches where you won’t find anyone else for miles! You must also go island hopping to see some of the uninhabited and undeveloped islands for a taste of tranquility and adventure like none other.
1. Isla Colon: For Shopping & Clicking Pictures!
This is also located inside the Bocas del Toro archipelago and is famed for its quaint little town called the Bocas Town. The town is the only developed part of the island and constantly attracts visitors with its amazing waterfront restaurants as well as pretty souvenir shops. It’s easily accessible by foot and so it lets you enjoy its natural beauty in the best way possible. When here, you go for a stroll along the beautiful Finca Los Monos Botanical Garden, spot colourful starfish at the Starfish Beach (Playa Estrella), and watch dolphins playing right from the coast at the dolphin reserve. Other activities one can indulge in here include boating, scuba diving, and fishing.
With so much to explore and unveil in the gorgeous Panama islands, you shouldn’t be waiting around to take a trip. Just pick your dates, plan a trip to the US, and get going!
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Frequently Asked Questions About Panama Islands
How many islands does Panama have?
Panama has more than 1,400 islands where some are Caribbean, some Pacific, and some near the entrance to the Panama Canal. But no matter their location, each is unique!
How to reach Panama islands?
Panama is well connected to major cities across the world via direct as well as connecting flights. The newly expanded Tocumen International Airport near Panama City services regular international flights to major airports around the world, including New Delhi in India. Once you’re there, each of the islands in Panama can be easily reached by boat.
Is Panama safe?
Panama is completely safe for a vacation. You do need to take care of your money and belongings.
Is Panama a part of the Caribbean?
Yes, Panama is a part of the Caribbean.