National ParksBeaches and Islands
Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park
- Bring your own food, water and snorkling gear. - If the sea is choppy, underwater visibility might be poor.- It is recommendable to spend one full day here.
Things to do in Panama
Isla Bastimentos National Marine Parks covers an area of 13,226 hectares, 11, 596 of which are marine area. Located in Bocas del Toro Archipelago, stretching from Playa Larga to Zapatillas Cays and the central part of Bastimentos Island including the mangroves area south of it, this park is a must see attraction in Bocas del Toro province. The park is home of the largest area of Caribbean mangrove swamp in Panama, featuring red and white mangroves, and the best conserved coral reefs in the Caribbean coast, making it a great place for snorkeling.
Playa Larga (Long Beach), on the north, is a long (5.6 km) beautiful beach where marine turtles go to nest from April to October. Access to the beach is not easy due to the heavy surf but possible if you really want to go. There are normally tours that can take you to the indegeneous community of Quebrada de Sal (Salt Creek) where you then take a jungle trail to see sloths and monkeys and finish up in Playa Larga. This trail has some difficult areas and it is recommended to be in shoes rather than sandals.
Zapatillas Cays is without a doubt the best area to visit here!
You can enjoy a swim in the clear waters; sunbathe on the beautiful white sand; go on a diving adventure or snorkeling in its surroundings; or explore its inland nature trail.
Zapatillas Cays consist in 2 islands, Zapatillas Major and Zapatillas Minor of 34 and 14 hectares respectively, surrounded by spectacular beaches and over a 500 hectares of coral reefs. Zapatillas Minor is famous because of the leatherbacks and the hawksbills turtles that go to the island to lay their eggs in season and Zapatillas Major for its astonishing beach.
The best of the underwater world is around 300 meters away from Zapatillas Major where you will get into 20 to 40 feet deep waters and see several coral islets, angel fishes, groupers, parrot-fish, butterfly fishes, lobsters, moray eels and countless small sea invertebrates.
In addition, in the park, there are 28 reptiles and amphibians species, 17 of which are in endangered species including 4 marine turtles. Also, there are 32 mammals and 68 birds’ species.
To get here you can arrange with either a tour operator or take one of the multiple water taxis services in Isla Colon. It takes around 45 minutes’ boat ride from Isla Colon to the park. The services are arranged to Zapatillas Major, where the park ranger office is.
- Panamanians : USD 3
- Foreigners: USD 10