Friday, January 24th, 2020

When compared to the rest of Central America, Panama has a decidedly modern and fast-paced feel. There’s skyscrapers, nightclubs, fine-dining restaurants, and cosmopolitan beaches of Panama City … and, oh yeah, something about a massive canal called “the heart valve of world commerce”.

Breakaway from the hubbub, however, and Panamanian life slows down to a deliciously slow pace. Nowhere is this truer than in the various Panama islands, little morsels of paradise scattered off this slender country’s lush and abundant coasts. Here are some Panama island retreats not to miss for a lazy Central American vacation getaway …

San Blas Islands

This archipelago contains hundreds of tiny, picturesque Panama islands off the northern Caribbean coast. It is also known as Guna Yala, after its Native American inhabitants. The indigenous Guna people maintain centuries-old traditions there on the San Blas Islands. Visiting them is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Don’t miss the many natural swimming pools. Take a guided excursion to a magical sandbar just five minutes’ boat ride from the coast. Once you get there, snorkel or wade waist-deep amid stingrays, sea turtles, starfish, and a technicolor rainbow of reef-dwelling fish.

Pure relaxation on the San Blas Islands of Panama
Pure relaxation on the San Blas Islands

Coiba Island

The largest island in Central America is a UNESCO World Heritage site for a good reason as it is the home of Coiba National Park, a 124,000-acre wonderland of virgin tropical rainforest. Howler monkeys, crested eagles, scarlet macaws, and other stars of Central American wildlife rule the roost here.

Jump off the coast to lounge on the tiny island of Granito de Oro, or dive down to visit hammerhead sharks, whales, and manta rays in their element.

Coiba National Park Panama and its Special Zone of Marine Protection - UNESCO Site
Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection – UNESCO Site

Bocas del Toro

This sleepy, adorable Caribbean island chain features dining and nightlife in Bocas Town on Isla Colón. Venture out to visit spectacular beaches, like Red Frog Beach and the tiny Zapatillas Cays. Stay in one of several eco-friendly resorts that are scattered along the coastline.

Bocas del Toro is also a major surfer destination, with several fantastic breaks scattered around the islands’ beaches, especially off Isla Colón and Isla Bastimientos.

Take in the Caribbean at Red Frog Beach Panama
Take in the Caribbean at Red Frog Beach

Gulf of Chiriquí

Luxury and nature co-exist in this beautiful region of Panama. An awe-inspiring destination just waiting to be revealed!!

Isla Secas, an archipelago of Panama islands in the Gulf of Chiriquí houses one of the most priceless luxury resorts in Central America—eight casitas with a maximum of 18 guests spread across 14 tiny islands. An elegant pristine ocean wilderness experience awaits!!

Isla Palenque, one of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, is an easily accessible 400-acre private jungle island in the Gulf of Chiriquí that houses lagoons, mangroves, and littoral forests. Isla Palenque contains seven secluded beaches with accommodations ranging from beachfront casitas to your own villa estate. With a “People and Planet” motto, they stay true to the environment through awareness efforts and sustainability programs.

Beachfront Casita off the coast  at Isla Palenque, Panama
Beachfront Casita off the coast  at Isla Palenque

The Pearl Islands

Conveniently close to Panama City and dotted with white sand beaches and turquoise waters, the beautiful Pearl Islands are a “must-see” on your next adventure to Panama. Luxury resort reserves are scattered throughout the islands and house many unique accommodations to explore. Many delicate ecosystems and be found throughout your adventures at sea and the inland jungle.

The Pearl Islands were the setting of Season 7 of the TV series Survivor. From June to October they are part of the migratory route of rare humpback whales. These Panama islands provide a fantastic jumping-off point for a whale-watching expedition.

Enjoy Humpback Whale Season off the coast of the Pearl Islands
Enjoy Humpback Whale Season off the coast of the Pearl Islands

Isla Barro Colorado

Originally, Isla Barro Colorado was just a hilltop. The construction of the Panama Canal changed it drastically. The dams created the giant manmade Lake Gatún, and Barro Colorado was partially submerged and cut off from the mainland.

The resulting inland-lake island is one of the most studied closed tropical ecosystems on the planet, renowned for its diversity of plant and animal wildlife. For the science-minded, a visit to the Isla Barro Colorado Smithsonian Tropical Research Facility is a fascinating day excursion. It requires booking in advance. With enough planning, you can even register to participate in a voluntary research program at this facility or at one of the Smithsonian’s other Panama research stations as part of a longer ecoadventure!

Geoffroy's Tamarin (Saguinus geoffroyi) in the forests of Panama
Geoffroy’s Tamarin (Saguinus geoffroyi) in the forests of Panama

You can read more on Panama from our post, “TRAVEL TO PANAMA – A MAGICAL BRIDGE BETWEEN WORLDS“.

READY TO DISCOVER

Are you ready to live on “Island Time” on the beautiful Panama coast? Let us help you craft an itinerary that encompasses your interests, passions, and quenches your wanderlust. Tell us what most intrigues you or let us make a recommendation and design an unforgettable Central American travel experience. We are here to take the stress out of travel planning and ensure that your time abroad is spent fully enjoying your vacation, worry-free.

If your wanderlust is calling, why not start by filling in our travel enquiry form or give us a call at (877) 509-6033. We take the stress out of planning and deliver highly personalized travel packages and concierge services for individuals, families, and groups.

We are proud members of American Express Travel, Sustainable Travel International, and ALTOUR/Travel Square One LLC.

With an adventurous spirit,

Your friends at Central America Journeys



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