The 6 Most Popular Islands in Panama

By: KIRSTEN HUBBARD | Pulished on 2024-01-02

Coiba Island

The 6 Most Popular Islands in Panama-Trip Advisesuraark/Getty Images


Coiba Island is the largest island not only in Panama but in all of Central America. Located off Panama's Pacific Coast in the Gulf of Chiriquí, the island was once part of continental Panama but split when sea levels rose 12,000 to 18,000 years ago. As a result, a number of endemic subspecies are found on the island, like the Coiba Agouti, the Coiba Spinetail, and the Coiba Howler Monkey. Three-fourths of the island is covered in forest, much of it ancient. A penal colony (with a terrifying reputation!) housed prisoners on the island from 1919 until it was closed in 2004. Now, the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, popular with eco-tourists and travelers seeking natural beauty off the beaten path.​

Bocas del Toro Islands

The 6 Most Popular Islands in Panama-Trip AdviseTripSavvy / Anna Haines


The Bocas del Toro Islands are Panama's most popular travel destination. Located in the Caribbean Sea, close to the Costa Rican border, they can be reached by ferry, water taxi, or plane. The largest of the Bocas del Toro islands is Isla Colón, home to Bocas Town (also called Bocas del Toro). Approximately 13,000 people live in Bocas Town, which also offers numerous hotels, restaurants, and other tourist attractions. Neighboring Bastimentos Island is another great destination, particularly Red Frog Beach (named for the tiny red poison dart frogs dwelling there). Other Bocas del Toro islands are less traveled, but equally stunning—such as Solarte Island, settled by the indigenous Ngöbe-Buglé people, and the Zapatillas Cays, part of Isla Bastimentos National Park.

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