Coiba Island, Panama Vacation Guide
Today the National Park of Coiba in 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. The biggest island in Central America was a prisoner's island until 2004 much like Alcatraz was in the US, but it is now a gorgeous National Park. In 2005 it was also declared a UNESCO heritage site. After the prison was its pristine condition made it perfect for a preserve. Scarlet Macaw's can be found in large numbers and the island is still about 75% forested with mainly primary forests.
Coiba Island encompasses over 2,700 square kilometers of islands, forests, beaches, mangroves and coral reefs. The waters surrounding Coiba Island are full of many fish and marine animals. 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. Visitors can take a boat to the island from either El Tigre de San Lorenzo or from Santa Catalina, which is a more popular surfing destination for tourists. But since the National Park is far from any other town there are only a few services available for tourists. There is however a Biological Station managed by ANAM, which provides rooms for small groups for up to 8 guests.
What to do and Where to go?
While the variety of activities in the National Park is small, you can go diving, snorkeling, bird watching, and hiking and enjoy the beautiful flora and fauna. The water surrounding the island are crystal clear and internationally famous for big Blue and Black Marlins which were caught in the past. Some of the beaches provide nestling grounds to turtles (April - December) which is one of the few attractions the park offers on the island, other than flora, fauna and bird watching.
Location and Map