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Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos

Top choice in Isla Bastimentos

Established in 1988, this 132-sq-km marine park was Panama's first. Protecting 130 islands of the Bocas del Toro archipelago, including the coral-fringed Cayos Zapatillas, and the wetlands in the center of Isla Bastimentos, the marine park is an important nature reserve for mangroves, monkeys, sloths, caimans, crocodiles and 28 species of amphibians and reptiles.

Get up-to-date park information from the ATP or Ministerio de Ambiente offices in Bocas del Toro town. To camp out anywhere in the park, you are required to first obtain a permit (US$10) from the latter.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Isla Bastimentos attractions

1. Nivida Bat Cave

0.77 MILES

One of Bastimentos' most fascinating natural wonders, Nivida is a massive cavern with swarms of nectar bats and a subterranean lake. The cave lies within…

2. Playa Larga

1.36 MILES

This 6km-long beach on the southeast side of the island falls under the protection of the marine park. Hawksbill, leatherback and green sea turtles nest…

3. Playa Polo

2.95 MILES

Polo Beach wraps around a sheltered cove and is protected by a reef. It has good snorkeling. Can be reached by short hike from Red Frog Beach.

4. Red Frog Beach

3.42 MILES

Small but perfectly formed, Red Frog Beach is named after the rana rojo (strawberry poison-dart frog), an amphibian you're most unlikely to encounter here…

5. Wizard Beach

4.97 MILES

The most beautiful beach on Isla Bastimentos is awash in powdery yellow sand and backed by thick vine-strewn jungle. It's connected to Old Bank via a…

6. Playa El Istmito

8.03 MILES

Playa El Istmito, also called Playa La Cabaña, is the closest beach to Bocas town (2.5km away), but as it's on Bahía Sand Fly the chitras (sand flies)…

7. Playa Punch

8.13 MILES

Further up the coast from Playa El Istmito and Sand Dollar Beach is Playa Punch (or Paunch), which is dangerous for swimming but good for surfing. It's…

8. Finca Los Monos Botanical Garden

8.55 MILES

One of the joys of visiting Bocas is touring the 'Monkey Farm' botanical garden a couple of kilometers northwest of the center. Painstakingly carved out…