17 Unforgettable Islands You Can’t-Miss When Visiting Panama

Panama beaches, an array of various beach styles were you can relax and soak up some vitamin D, celebrate special occasions, romantic getaways, or simply just travel. Nothing compares with sunny beaches, gentle waves, and beautiful white sands! With a cocktail or coconut water, you have a delightful day ahead. For those seeking luxurious five-star resorts, private beaches, one of a kind exotic locations, and beautiful memories, we’ve got your needs covered!

Panama boasts some of the best landscapes, fine sand beaches, and crystal blue waters you’ve ever seen. If you identify as a beach bum, the list below is tailored just for you.

Let’s dive into our countdown. We are taking you from tropical paradises to untouched beaches, where you can unload and sunbathe, and capture breathtaking scenery, perfect for your Instagram posts! The best part? You can enjoy these beach holiday destinations, all year long!

1. San Blas Islands

San Blas Islands are along the Caribbean coast of Panama, the group of islands boasts an island for every day of the year, with over 365 islands! Out of the 365 islands, only 49 islands are inhabited by indigenous people called Kuna. To reach the islands, a plane or boat ride will do the trick, the dock about a three and half hour drive from Panama City.

Quick history lesson: the Kuna people gained their independence from the Panamanian government, establishing their own economy giving them full control of the tourism to their islands! Due to this, you’ll have to go through a customs checkpoint, so bringing along your passport is essential.

Depending on your tour company, choices for amenities such as a cabin or tent, and choice of length of stay are your choice! Doesn’t a two-night camping experience surrounded by palm trees sound amazing? During your stay, you can island hop and experience all San Blas Islands have to offer, truly like no other.

2. Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is a province of Panama and one of the most famous archipelagos of the region. A total of seven islands comprise the land area, attracting beaucoup of tourists year-round. Thrill-seekers will find an array of activities including scuba diving, kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, surfing, and hiking, to name a few. This is truly an adventurist’s paradise! Boca del Toro boasts great seafood, clear waters, and amazing landscapes for photos! This archipelago offers impeccable scenic backdrops, perfect for Instagram models and those wanting to flaunt their lifestyles.

Boca del Toro offers an array of accommodations for every price point. One can splurge on luxurious overwater bungalows or modest hostels. There is no excuse to not pack your bags!

3. Bocas del Toro: Colon Island

Colon Island is the capital of Boca del Toro. Your stay here comes with many options including resorts, hostiles, or over-water bungalows to choose from! Getting around the island is fun, heading out to a minibar or nightlife spots? Not to worry, you can do so by water taxis! Coral reefs exist along the edge of the island, with abundant maritime life including, starfish, string rays, barracudas, to mention a few. Ensure your kayaking and snorkeling gear is readily available! Beachside huts along the beaches are ready to serve up delicious drinks, so be prepared to soak up the sun!

4. Bocas del Toro: Zapatilla Islands

Zapatilla Islands is a set of two uninhabited islands in the province of Bocas del Toro, or Mouth of the Bull, and a part of a national marine park. Boasting the beauty of their white sands, the islands have gained touristic traction and popularity throughout the last several years, so expect a little more tourism traffic than their more remote and secluded counterparts.

A few businesses offer tours to Zapatilla Islands, all roughly about the same price range of $30 to $40 USD per person. Tours offer varying stops along the gentle boat ride island-hopping expedition, one tour even including amenities such as barbecued fish on the beach, and fresh coconuts for beverages!

The tour includes a thirty-minute hike, cutting across and through the island’s jungle, if you are feeling a little adventurous. With gentle waves and crystal turquoise waters, this island tour is a must, if fresh barbecue and coconuts served on the white sands of the beach are your things!

5. Bocas del Toro: Isla Bastimentos (also known as Red Frog Beach Island)

Located in Bocas del Toro, Red Frog Beach is one of the largest islands in Panama. The island flaunts lavish amenities including top award-winning vacation resorts such as the five start Red Frog Beach Island Resort or top-notch hostiles to select from, accommodating all budgets.

The air of luxury is accentuated by the islands pristine upkeep and being so close to the rainforest, Red Frog Beach offers a diverse set of outdoor activities including beach volleyball, zip-lining tours, underground caves, chocolate farm tours, and kayaking!

You can choose to snorkel and swim in the midst of beautiful sunfish in coral beds. Talk about an ecological wonderland! Just minutes from the beach, if you are a sailor or coming in on a boat, Red Frog Beach offers a world-class marina.

It is no wonder that the Red Frog Beach is voted One of the World’s Best Secret Beaches by the Travel Channel. If you are staying at the resort, a relaxing afternoon at the spa is a must and you’ll have access to exclusive restaurants. Ready for the beach? Stellar food and cocktail options are awaiting.

6. Pearl Islands

Pearl Islands is comprised of a group of 200 plus islands off the Pacific coast of Panama. The islands are only accessible only by plane or ferry, the plane ride is about 20 minutes, and the ferry is about 1 hour from Panama City mainland. The beauty of these Islands cannot be stressed enough, it is the quintessential tropical paradise!

The islands offer crystal clear blue waters and a landscape of cliffs surrounding the waters. The area is still underdeveloped, and a romantic and secluded ambiance is created by the uninhabited islands! If you are a reality TV fan, the islands may seem familiar, as the show filmed here during one of its seasons due to its underdeveloped and remote characteristics!

An islands hop tour is available through local businesses, roughly only $50 USD per person, and worth every penny! For the islands hopping tour allows for a BYOB, bring your own beverages (Cerveza por favor?), and you can opt for some snorkeling gear, and become intimate with the coral reef life.

7. Pearl Islands: Contadora Island

Contadora is part of the Pearl Islands, the group of over 200 Islands, and contains its own airport, allowing for easy access from the mainland. Contadora vaunts some of the most beautiful white sand beaches of Panama. The numerous amounts of beaches on the islands allow you to choose to either be secluded for a romantic getaway and experience the amazing feeling of a deserted island or in contrast, be around some of the more touristic areas. Due to its small size, getting around the island is a breeze, most opting for a golf cart or scooter available for rent.

8. Pearl Islands: Taboga Island

Taboga Island is located 7.5 miles (12 km) from Panama City, about a one-hour ferry ride, only $10 USD one way, or $20 for a round trip. Make sure to arrive at least one hour before ferry departure, as you can anticipate beach enthusiast crowds! Pro tips: Ensure to bring along some cash, as ATMs are not available on the islands.

The Panamanian sun, in its entire splendor, can be a little unforgiving, so ensure your sunscreen is readily available. Taboga Island is only about 5 miles (8 km) around and is home to about 900 residents. The atmosphere is quiet, and constantly patrolled by the aero navy guards, ensure safety to both its residents and tourists. There is no place on the island without an amazing view!

The island is home to many expats, enjoying the tropical surroundings, the neighborhoods a mixture of extravagant over the top homes and medium-sized homes, all displaying beautiful colors, just like the vegetation. The island contains no major roads, just paved corridors, and homes close together, creating a tight-knit community environment, where the locals all seem to know one another, simple and stress-free. One could say, easy breezy!

9. Pearl Islands: Viveros Island

Vivero Island is part of the Pearl Island archipelago, located in the heart of the Gulf of Panama. The island is surrounded by stunning white-sand beaches, crystal blue waters, palm trees on the beach, all blended so well, you will not want to leave! With its natural beauty, Viveros Island is one of the most beautiful islands of the archipelago. It’s no wonder Viveros Islands are known as the playground for Panama’s elite.

There are several options to get to the island, a ferry from Panama City, or if you are anxious to flaunt your hard work, a 40-minute helicopter lift may be more your style! Hey, why not? There are many luxurious suites to choose from, including Las Perlas Archipelago, fully equipped with modern amenities, private patios, and all the marine gear you can handle, snorkeling equipment, stand up paddles, canoe, and fishing equipment, all including for your holiday!

10. Pearl Islands: Saboga Island

This uninhabited island, home to some of the bluest waters on earth, is perfect if you are looking for a non-touristic getaway. Quiet and relaxing, Saboga Island features nice beaches and water activities including snorkeling. Pro tip: You will want to bring along groceries to last your stay on the island, as services are scarce. Saboga Island offers plenty of outdoor activities, and jungle hiking trails galore! Other activities on the island include eco-touring and spearfishing. The villagers are friendly further accentuating the serenity of the island. A short walk to Small Village will offer breathtaking views of surrounding islands.

11. Pearl Islands: Chapera Island

Part of the Pearl Islands, Chapera Island where the water is perfect, blue, and warm, and some of the whitest sands found in Panama. Once on the sand, activities include beach volleyball, beach soccer, and of course, live DJs entertaining enthusiastic beachgoers. Most tour businesses offer extras including a full BBQ spread on the beach, with the options like purchasing cocktails and beers on the beach. After a long relaxing day on the beach, on the way back to the mainland, enjoy the breathtaking Panamanian sunset.

12. Bolaños Island

Bolaños Island is a remote island located in the Gulf of Chiriqui, its boat ride from the mainland is only roughly 30 minutes. Quiet, beautiful, crystal clear waters, and still relatively underdeveloped, Bolaños Island is the latest of the Pearl Island Archipelago to open its beachfront to visitors. Notorious for Humpback Whale sightings, keep your cameras handy!

For those looking for a secluded getaway and an atmosphere that an island is a private place just for you, Bolaños Island is perfect. The island offers a tranquil and serene environment for snorkeling and kayaking. Bolaños Island allows for overnight camping options, perfect for bonding time with a group of friends!

13. Iguana Island

Iguana Island is located on the Azuero Peninsula and consists of 143 acres of a wildlife reserve. The island boasts white sand beaches, clear turquoise water, and as you may have guessed iguanas. The island’s coral riffs have over a dozen types of corals and more than 300 species of fish, ensuring snorkeling in a colorful submarine world, at its finest!

Maritime life sightings of dolphins, sharks, and sea turtles are common, as well as humpback whales if within June and October season. An exquisite hiking trail that crosses the island from west to east allows you to observe the island’s numerous iguanas. After your explorer instincts have subsided, spend time relaxing on the stunning white sands where tour guides often serve up a beach-style lunch, directly on the sand.

14. Coiba Island

If you are looking for some of the best surf in Central America, a white sand beach awaits you! Coiba Island is off Panama’s Pacific coast and located in the Gulf of Chiriqui. Coiba Island is classified as a marine reserve and National Park. Santa Catalina is the closest access point to Coiba Island, about an hour and fifteen-minute boat ride. The island is famous for world-class diving, fishing, and relaxing.

The island is home to an array of maritime life including sea turtles, white tip shark, colorful fish, and stingrays, the waters calm, warm, and clear, perfect for a fantastic snorkeling session. With its relaxed features, the beach is also perfect for paddleboarding. A small slice of paradise is a perfect phrase to describe this island!

15. Boca Chica Island

Boca Chica Island comes fully loaded with beachfront properties, elegance, nature, and adventure. The island is about one hour from the city of David, Panama and is fast becoming one of the preferred island living destinations for the expat community. One of the most captivating features of Boca Chica is its ambiance of remoteness from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

The island’s location is perfectly positioned to offer complete relaxation. The hotels of the island offer modern designs and luxurious bungalows amid tropical gardens alongside the crystal blue waters of the gulf. Bathing in contemporary infinity-style pools is also an option, and for dinner, opt to choose from luxurious good quality restaurants. If opening your drapes each morning to the Pacific Ocean sounds like your style, Boca Chica Island is for you!

16. Isla Grande

Isla Grande is truly a picture-perfect paradise. The island is located a little over half a mile (1 km) from the small fishing village of La Guaira, boat ride about $6 USD per person. Choosing from luxurious hotel stays, or if hostels are more your style, there are plenty to choose from! Either choice will ensure lush vegetation accentuating peace and privacy. Charming cabins are also an option, where you can sleep in the natural fresh air, and listen to the waves breaking as you fall asleep, providing a truly unique experience.

The island is one of the busiest on weekends, so going during a weekday is your best bet. The island is a popular destination for the locals to venture to during the weekends and especially, during national holidays. Once on the islands, you can opt to visit some of the nearby uninhabited islands such as Isla Mamey.

17. Isla Mamey 

Enjoy white sands and beautiful turquoise-colored water at this uninhabited island. Rows of coconut palm trees adorn the landscape making it an ideal destination if relaxation is your goal. One can snorkel among the coral reefs and observe the array of colorful fish, or enjoy walking alongside rows of palm trees. If you are ready for a romantic couple’s getaway, the “tunnel of love” awaits you. You will enjoy mangrove trees and flora and fauna of this coastal area via an ecological boat tour.

Life is a Beach

Panama flaunts the most crystalline and picture-perfect beaches in the world. Choose to splurge in top-notch modern accommodations, featuring contemporary infinity-style pools and lavish restaurants, or enjoy modest hostels perfect for adventurists seeking their next zip-lining or kayaking experience.

Whether you are on an overnight beach camping quest to party with your friends or are planning a romantic secluded getaway, Panama offers its white sands and crystal blue waters for any occasion. If you are not packing your bags by now, I strongly suggest you begin by choosing your favorite swimming trunks, or speedos.

Matt Romero

I’m Matthew Romero, one of the guys behind PanamaLifeInsider.com I am incredibly passionate about Panama, its beautiful territory, and all the incredible opportunities which offer to people coming here from all over the world both either visiting and settling. In this blog, I decided to share my passion with you!

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