Panama is full of islands. Known as one of the most diverse tropical countries on earth, Panama has a unique landscape that includes hundreds of the most beautiful islands on both coasts. Whether you’re moving to Panama, or just visiting Panama, checking out the islands is sure to be high on your agenda. With so many islands to pick, you’ll literally never run out of places to go. You may, however, want to narrow down your search. Here are a few of our suggestions for a beautiful Panama island getaway.
The archipelago of San Blas is a sight to be seen, and really a special kind of treat for more “off-the-grid” travelers. The area consists of over 400 islands Caribbean, with only about 10% of those inhabited by people. The islands are native territory, managed and lived in by the Kuna Yala tribe. We recommend getting a tour of the islands from one of the many groups in the city that offer the services, as it’s pretty hard to navigate out there alone. Keep in mind that there is sparse electricity, and no real luxury amenities (which is a big draw for many), so if you’re used to resort travel, this may not be for you. It’s as close to a trip back in time as you’ll get in all of Panama.
For a natural and rustic, yet comfortable (and even luxurious) island experience, check out Panama’s famous pearl islands. The Pearl Islands are also an archipelago, although much smaller, and much more accessible to the city. The islands are located just outside of the bay of Panama in the Pacific Ocean. You can reach there by ferry from the Balboa Yacht club in Balboa, or by ferry from the Trump Ocean Club in Punta Pacifica. You can also fly. The islands are famous for whale and dolphin watching, and have a number of both luxury accommodations and rustic island-style ones. The water is crystal blue, and you’ll never run into a big crowd there, even on holidays.
If you’re looking for a quick day trip, at an unbelievably affordable price, your best bet (from Panama City) is Isla Taboga. This island is small, but very close to the city by boat (20 minutes), and a favorite hangout for people who just need a bit of beach time and island vibes. There are a few hotels on the island as well, if you do decide to spend the night. The island consists of a main beach, with a small town going up a hill, and some smaller, less accessible beaches in the surroundings. Ferries cost about $12 each way, and food and drinks are very reasonable once there. There is also a new restaurant called La Vista Experience, which brings diners from the city with an upscale “all inclusive” vibe that provides transportation, dinner, and drinks for patrons.
Bocas del Toro:
Probably the most famous, and popular island destination in Panama is Bocas del Toro. It’s a Caribbean archipelago in the far northwest corner of Panama, and is one of the most authentically Caribbean experiences available in the country. The main town (Bocas Town) boast lots of restaurants, bars, and tours, while the surrounding beaches and islands offer unmatched tranquility. The wildlife in Bocas is something to behold, too, with nature tourism being a highlight for most visitor, both local and foreign. Flying is the quickest way to get to Bocas del Toro, and while you’re there, you’ll mostly get around by foot or water taxi.