The Caribbean Islands of Western Panama


Isla Colon, Isla Bastimentos, Isla Cristobal, Isla Popa And The Idyllic Bocas Islands
The major islands of the chain are Isla Colon, Isla Bastimentos, Isla Cristobal and Isla Popa and The idyllic Bocas islands are a destination of increasing popularity for visitors on Panama tours due in part to the filming the TV show, "Survivor," here. Many of the islands are forested. Some offer overnight accommodations. The tiny islets boast unique attractions as well. A constant companion here is the rain that comes and goes without warning. The driest months are February, March, September and October.

One big Bocas attraction is 32,700-acre Isla Bastimentos Marine National Park that protects a bio-diverse habitat including important turtle nesting sites. The park's two Cayos Zapatillas islands are popular with snorkeling enthusiasts and divers.
The most populated island in the archipelago is Isla Colon. Accommodations here include the much-photographed Punta Caracol Aqua Lodge that stretches into Almirante Bay on stilts. A favorite destination with birders hoping to catch a glimpse of the rare red-tailed tropicbird on their Panama tours is Swan's Cay, a rocky islet just off the north shore of Isla Colon. Nearby Isla Carenero is known for its surfing locales. Isla Popa attracts toucans. Isla Solarte, east of Isla Colon, offers memorable snorkeling and diving at Hospital Point, named for the turn-of-the-century facility built by the United Fruit Company that once occupied the site. On the east side of Isla Cristobal is little Dolphin Bay where bottle-nose dolphins come to feed in the fish-rich waters here, especially in June and July.

Escudo de Veraguas is a lone island east of the archipelago and east of Peninsula Valiente in the Mosquito Gulf. Difficult to reach, it is a site for conservation efforts to restore nesting populations of hawksbill and leatherback turtles.