The waters off the Panamanian coast are full of beautiful islands filled with exotic animals and lush forests. Each island is unique unto itself and has its own treasures for you to find. These islands also have distinct terrains, different adventures, and welcoming people. Each of the best islands to visit in Panama is worth a trip for its own reasons.
Isla Boca Brava
Located on the Pacific side of Panama in the Gulf of Chiriquí, Isla Boca Brava has lots of activities for larger groups and solo travelers alike, including scuba diving, snorkeling, and deep-sea fishing. The island is sparsely populated, and the hotels there are spread out to give the feeling of seclusion. If you want to feel like you own an island, this is the one to visit.
The Island of Flowers is only accessible by boat from the capital, Panama City, and it’s the place to go for historic hiking. 17th-century pirates often used the island for hiding out and unloading their plunder, but it fell under the influence of the French, Spanish, Americans, and British over the years. That’s why it has such a diverse population and rich history.
The Pearl Islands are an archipelago in the Gulf of Mexico off the eastern coast of Panama. Made popular by the TV show Survivor, this chain of islands is a great place for whale-watching and fishing. Isla Contadora is one of the most developed of the islands in the area, with amazing beaches.
Archipiélago de San Blas
This archipelago has 300 islands, and only 50 of them are inhabited. That means you can find an empty island and spend the day doing whatever you want. Take in the picturesque scenery and escape from everything. Meet the indigenous peoples of this group of islands, the Kuna, and learn about their ancient culture. The people are what makes this chain unique from all the others. It’s a must-see when you visit Panama.
When you’ve had enough hiking, sightseeing, fishing, and relaxing, head to Isla Colón. This is the spot for shopping, dining, and nightlife. One of the most populated and developed of the islands, it has it all. Get some souvenirs to take back home, have some local food, and drink some fruity, rum-filled drinks while you people-watch on the beach.
A few miles off the coast in the southern part of the country is Isla Iguana. It’s part of the Isla Iguana Wildlife Refuge, and, as you might expect, it’s a great place for bird- and animal-watching. It’s one of the most-visited islands in the country. Here you’ll find good scuba diving, whale-watching, and snorkeling opportunities in the protected waters.