September 2011
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Travel – Isla Palenque Chiriquí, an island in the Gulf of Chiriquí in Panama

Isla Palenque is an island located in the Gulf of Chiriquí. The word Palenque actually means a refuge for escaped slaves and this is island is given this name due to Central America’s colonial periods Indians who were indentured to work in the Spanish mines in those times. The island is situated off the western Pacific shore and near the Costa Rica border. To its north is Boca Brava and is linked to it by a narrow bridge. This island is about 400 acres (1.6 km2), with approx. 5 miles (8.0 km) of coastline and over 1-mile (1.6 km) of beaches. The island is mostly full of ecosystems of tropical forest that have mangroves, lagoons, and littoral forest and is home for many species of plants, flowers, animals and birds.
Families of Howler monkeys, Northern Tamandua Anteater, the Nine-banded Armadillo, White-nosed Coati, Crab-eating Raccoon, Agouti, Woolly Opossum, and the Mexican Hairy Dwarf Porcupine, kinds of rabbits, squirrels and mice all exist here. Among the large reptiles are the Emerald Basilisk, Black ctenosaur, Green Iguana, and Spectacled Caiman along with multiple species of frogs, salamander, lizards and snakes. Among the birds are Toucans, Parrots, Woodpeckers, Frigate birds, Hawks, and Owls along with multiple varieties of Hummingbirds.
This island is also another ideal point for sport fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling in the Gulf of Chiriquí.

Attractions of Islas Palenques, Chiriquí, Panama
• Whale watching: One can watch the humpback whales only once in a point of year as these are migratory whales. This archipelago displays their acrobatic behavior with leviathans of deep travel of miles on icy waters and winter feeding at the poles.
• Bird Watching: The Frigate bird colony on Coco Island at Islas Secas Resort is worth watching and a beautiful experience as one can watch many species of birds on the archipelago.
• Coiba National Marine Park: This is on the island of Coiba. There are 37 surrounding islands and islets which are 30 miles off the Panamanian coast in the Gulf of Chiriquí. During the period 1919 to 2004, this island was a location for political prisoners and a penal colony for criminals in Panama. It is about twenty miles to the southeast of Las Secas and one can reach by boat to this archipelago. It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
• Islas Ladrones: This Island is in the Gulf of Chiriqui and is an island. The word Ladrones means “thief” in Spanish. Islas Ladrones is situated to the south of Boca Chica and is 27 miles to Boca Chica. This island is the ideal point for sport fishing and scuba diving in the Gulf of Chiriquí. This island is full of fish life; divers can see many varieties of fish species like King Angelfish, Damselfish, Surgeonfish, Parrotfish, Triggerfish, Wrasse, Gobies, Blennies and Moorish idols. This island is unique as from May to November giant manta rays make an appearance and on a year round basis one can view species of eagle, mobula and devil fish. Sharks of white-tip, black-tip and nurse species are also seen all through the year along with humpback whales. Among the activities that tourists do are scuba diving (with a visibility of 30-80 meters) and Snorkeling. Boco Chica is an ideal place for scuba diving and sport fishing.
• Islas Secas is located in the Gulf of Chiriquí and is an island. This island, Islas Secas, is situated to the east of Boca Chica and is 16 miles to Boca Chica. This island is also another ideal point for sport fishing and scuba diving in the Gulf of Chiriquí. The visibility is good in dry months and right for sport fishing as the fish flock from corals and rock to form schools. One can also see White-tip sharks, rays and turtles along with moray eels, lobster and nudi branchs and Humpback whales. One can watch the humpback whales only once in a particular time of the year.
• Diving: The Secas Archipelago with its neighboring island groups like Ladrones, Paredas and the Coiba National Park and the park being an UNESCO World Heritage site gives us the best adventure diving in the world. This island is governed by five oceanic currents and is rich in eco-regions. The Tropical Eastern Pacific, the islands of the Gulf of ChiriquÌ and the marine biodiverse life and habitat is unique here and is not there in other islands like the Galapagos and Coco Islands, Costa Rica. One can watch about 800 species of fish which include about thirty-three species of shark including the Reef White Tip, Scalloped Hammerhead, Bull, Tiger, and the bizarre Guitar shark.
• Kayaking – Sailing – Surfing: There are hidden coves, reefs, beaches along with mangrove forests which is a biggest attraction of this island. One can go through an all Kayaking safari. There is a blow hole which is also known as Buffona which is a natural phenomenon on Isla Cavada. One can do the best surfing from April through October.
• Boca Brava: This is an island in Panama in the Gulf of Chiriquí. One can access Boca Brava from David’s Enrique Malek International Airport. From Boca Chica, one can access by a boat. Boca Chica is a small fishing village that is 5 miles from Boca Brava.
• Parque Nacional Marino Golfo de Chiriquí is in the Gulf of Chiriquí and is a national park. This national park was found in 1994 and spread over 14,730 hectares or 36,400 acres. This area has coral reef, mangrove swamp and marine meadows with forests and white sand with temperate air and weather. This has been given the tag “one of Panama’s best kept secrets.” It is one of the hot spots of Bouquet. It has an archipelago called Las Isla Parida where one can see green iguanas, humpback whales (from August to October), hammerhead sharks, dolphins and multiple species of sea turtle on its island beaches.

Best time to visit / climate:
Isla Palenque’s temperatures are consistent year round but the dry season is from December through April and the rainy season is from May through November. So the best time for visiting this island is December through April.

Location on Google Maps:

View Larger Map

How to get there:
From David’s Enrique Malek International Airport, the island of Isla Palenque can be accessed by boat from the small fishing village of Boca Chica which is just about 5 miles from Isla Palenque over water. This takes about one hour or less and from port of Pedregal it is a 50 minute scenic ride.
To get around electric GEM bikes and cars are available for the resort residents.

Places to stay (hotels / restaurants along with website / contact numbers):

• Tripadvisor (link1, link2)

Blogs / Sites about Islas Palenque Chiriquí, Panama:


Images and photos of Islas Palenque Chiriquí, Panama:

Google Search

Frommer’s Panama Fodor’s Panama, 2nd Edition Moon Panama (Moon Handbooks)

Videos of the island “Isla Palenque Chiriquí” from Youtube:

Isla Palenque by Chopper

Isla Palenque Shoreline

Whales and Dolphins off the Coast of Isla Palenque

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