Coiba Island, Panama

Southern Panama

National Park
World Heritage Site

Coiba Island Panama

Coiba National Park Panama is an unparalleled destination for discovering new species and one of the best diving sites in the Western Hemisphere. Located off the Pacific Coast in the province of Veraguas, it was once home to the Coiba Cacique Indians and was later conquered by the Spanish around 1560. In 2005 it was also declared a UNESCO heritage site. Scarlet Macaw's can be found in large numbers and the island is still about 75% forested with mainly primary forests.

The island is surrounded by one of the largest Pacific coral reefs of the Americas. Many species that have disappeared from the mainland can still be found here.

Things to do in Coiba Island

Visit the National Park
The Coiba National Park is considered a World Heritage Site because of the interesting array of wildlife and vegetation species that inhabit it and make its ecosystem unique in the world.

Coiba is a world-class diving destination on the same corridor as the Galapagos Islands, offering access to Bahia Damas Reef, the largest reef on the western coastline of the American continent. You’ll have the chance to see manta rays, whales and hammerhead sharks. If you come between December and April, you might just see some of the biggest fish in the ocean, the whale sharks.

Sun and beach
The postcard-perfect beaches of Coiba have long white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters surrounded by thick vegetation where turtles lay their eggs. The most famous beaches are Playa Damas and Playa Blanca.

Other destinations nearby

Granito Island
Granito Island is a small islet located next to Coiba. Both share their white-sand landscapes, turquoise-blue waters and coconut groves, but Isla Granito is even less built-up and only accessible for a few hours a day. The island is also a great place for scuba diving, and its underwater scenery is considered one of the most beautiful in the top 10 in the world.

Rancheria Island
Rancheria Island is considered the little sister of Coiba Island, so many people call it “Coibita” despite being the third largest of the archipelago. It shares characteristics with the rest of the islands in the National Park, but the most curious thing is that it is used as a living laboratory because it is home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Every year, new plants and animal species and how to cure their diseases are researched. There you can hike, kayak, snorkel and sunbathe on its paradisiacal beaches. The beach is practically virgin, and only tourists and artisanal and sport fishermen come to it in search of tuna, grouper and snapper among others.

Santa Catalina
Santa Catalina is the most common access point to reach Coiba Island Panama, however, it is a very famous tourist destination among surfers. Santa Catalina and Estero beaches stand out. There is also a small path called La Cresta that leads to a viewpoint from where you can see the islands. It is a short trail, but not particularly easy, as it has a lot of stones and is often wet and slippery.

Location and Map

Isla Coiba is located in the province of Veraguas Panama, about 20 kilometers from the Azuero Peninsula and 25 kilometers from Playa Santa Catalina. Coiba Island can be accessed by boat from several locations in Panama, but the quickest trip is an hour and fifteen-minute boat ride from Santa Catalina in Veraguas.

Contact our Coiba Island Panama vacation guides by visiting our Panama Trip Planner!