Exotic Islands of Panama, Central AmericaCopyright: Seaphotoart / Shutterstock.com
Exotic Islands of Panama, Central AmericaThe Republic of Panama has a privileged geographic position bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean and the south by the Pacific. Therefore, it has a plethora of islands varying in sizes and includes uninhabited pristine islets, national marine parks, as well as up-and-coming hipster and backpacker islands with a buzzing nightlife. The most popular islands in Panama are Bocas del Toro, San Blas (Guna Yala), Taboga, and the Pearl Islands. The latter is an archipelago comprised of 90 islands and 100 islets.
Bocas del ToroOf all the tourist destinations in Panama, Bocas del Toro is the place where you can really have it all. During the day you can take a tour to any of the amazing islands of the archipelago, sail, sunbathe, swim, surf, snorkel, hike, ride a bicycle around town, and visit an indigenous village or a botanical garden. At night you can literally go bar hopping, participate in a talent night, go to a costume party, and dance by a shipwreck, find excellent live music, and best of all, no need to drive. Bocas is constantly changing and transforming itself. There’s always something new and by walking in the streets, you can feel the energy of people coming and going who are happy and feel lucky to be there.
Pearl IslandsOne of the country’s best kept secrets is only 15 minutes by plane from Panama City and just over an hour and a half by ferry through the Bay of Panama. The Pearl Islands is an archipelago of hundreds of islands and islets, many uninhabited. Although located off Panama’s Pacific Coast, the islands have a distinctly Caribbean feel with white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Offshore, however, waters are teeming with rich Pacific marine life, perfect for diving, snorkeling, sailing, sports fishing and spotting dolphins and whales. Named by Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa for the abundance of pearls he encountered upon discovering the archipelago in 1513, the islands are also known for producing the largest recorded pearl in the world, "La Peregrina", which once belonged to Elizabeth Taylor.
San BlasThe beautiful archipelago of San Blas straddles the Caribbean coast of Panama, dotting the water with white sandy beaches and lush greenery. Though most islands are uninhabited, the indigenous Kuna people call the archipelago home, keeping to their traditional way of life. Sail boats carrying travelers to and from Colombia start and finish their journeys at San Blas, and many linger among the islands for a week or so, soaking up the sea, the sun and the breathtaking scenery.
Taboga IslandThe island of flowers, as it is known, is just one hour by ferry from the Amador Causeway in Panama City. This popular haunt for pirates from days of yore is now a sleepy little island perfect for enjoying a day in the sun, swimming or practicing watersports. There are a few hotels and restaurants available and, for the energetic, there is a good hike up to a viewing point on a hill. This island is a favorite well to do Panamanian weekend getaway, especially for its proximity to Panama city, although it may take 1 hour for the ferry ride but faster boats can reach Isla Taboga in 20 to 30 minutes.
Traveling by Airplane
Air Panama is the domestic airline traveling daily from Panama City to Bocas del Toro, Isla Contadora, Isla San Jose and San Blas (Guna Yala).
Traveling by Sea
Ferry services travel daily to Isla Taboga and the most popular islands in the Pearl Islands archipelago. For more information about ferries, go to the transportation section of your island of choice.
Cash or credit card?
Most of the islands do not have banks or ATMs so it is important to bring enough cash for your trip. There are just a few hotels and restaurants that do accept credit cards so it is important that you are prepared for cash transactions.
Do not drink tap water. Remember to bring bottled water when touring the islands.