Isla Bastimentos National Park

Welcome to the tropical adventure of your life. Discover the hidden wonders of Panama at the Isla Bastimentos National Park, also known by its English name, Bastimentos Island, an unparalleled paradise of biodiversity and natural beauty.

Park Information

Isla Bastimentos National Park

History and Park Establishment

Created on September 2, 1988, through Resolution Junta Directiva JD 022-88 under the name "Parque Nacional Isla Bastimentos" in Spanish, this park has been a sanctuary for conservation, safeguarding a significant ecosystem of mangroves, coral reefs, tropical jungle, and marine ecosystems in the Caribbean Sea of Panama.

The Isla Bastimentos Park covers an area of 132.3 km² (13,226 hectares), representing 6.6% of the total archipelago area. It holds a Category II protection status from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), indicating that both marine and terrestrial areas are in a natural or nearly natural state, with minimal alterations.

Geographic Location

Situated in the Caribbean Sea, northwest of the Republic of Panama in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, just north of the province with the same name, the Isla Bastimentos National Park is an exotic escape to a realm of pristine nature, near the indigenous village of Ngäbe-Buglé Salt Creek (Quebrada Sal). Its geolocation can be determined using the UTM geographic coordinates Datum WGS 84: 1030409.84 m N / 374324.06 m E.

How to Get There

To access the Isla Bastimentos Marine National Park, there are different ways to reach it. The road option involves taking the Interamericana route to the Chiriquí province. From there, you can reach Chiriquí Grande, where a ferry takes you to the Bocas del Toro province, specifically Isla Colón. Another alternative would be taking a flight from Panama City to this location.

Once on Isla Colón, you need to take a boat to reach the park. This maritime transport is the most common way to access the Isla Bastimentos Marine Park. Through the boat ride, visitors can enjoy the journey and admire the beautiful marine landscape as they head towards this destination of natural conservation.


The climate on Isla Bastimentos (Bastimentos Island) is characterized by a cloudy rainy season, a partially cloudy dry season, and a hot and humid climate throughout the year. Over the course of the year, temperatures generally range between 23 °C and 30 °C, with lows rarely dropping below 21 °C and highs rarely exceeding 31 °C.

The hot season lasts approximately 1.1 months, from May 15th to June 20th, with an average daily maximum temperature exceeding 29 °C. The warmest month on Isla Bastimentos is June, with an average maximum temperature of 30 °C and a minimum of 24 °C. On the other hand, the cool season spans around 1.2 months, from November 9th to December 17th, with an average daily maximum temperature below 29 °C. The coldest month of the year on Isla Bastimentos is November, with an average minimum temperature of 24 °C and a maximum of 29 °C.


The national park not only offers natural attractions but also possesses valuable water resources. These include the central forests of Isla Bastimentos, the Zapatillas cays and their surrounding waters, as well as the mangrove islets to the south of Bastimentos and Long Beach to the north of the island.

Long Beach is especially notable for its natural beauty and extensive length. It’s considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the archipelago. During the nesting season from April to October, sea turtles come to this beach, adding an additional appeal for wildlife enthusiasts and marine fauna observers.

Biodiversity in Isla Bastimentos (Bastimentos Island)

Flora and Fauna

The park is home to an impressive variety of endemic species. Discover the colorful coral reefs and search for sightings of the rare red poison dart frog. At Long Beach, sea turtles make their nests, making it a serene location.

The park is traversed by many mangrove channels and islets: red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) and white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa), surrounded by corals and sandy bottoms with turtle grass meadows (Thalassia testudinum).

In the interior area of Isla Bastimentos, there’s a freshwater lagoon where freshwater turtles (Trachemys scripta), spectacled caimans (Caiman crocodilus), and American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) inhabit.

Iconic Species

White-faced Capuchin Monkey

The white-faced capuchin monkey (Cebus capucinus), also known as white-throated capuchin, maicero capuchin, or white-headed capuchin, is a medium-sized monkey species belonging to the Cebidae family.

Hawksbill Turtle

The hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is a fascinating species of sea turtle belonging to the Cheloniidae family. It’s unique in its genus, known as Eretmochelys imbricata. This species is divided into two subspecies: Eretmochelys imbricata imbricata, found in the Atlantic Ocean, and Eretmochelys imbricata bissa, present in the Indo-Pacific region. These turtles are true wonders of nature and deserve our protection and care due to their delicate conservation status.

Spectacled Caiman

The spectacled caimán (Caiman crocodilus), also known as the common caimán or spectacled caiman, is a species of crocodile characterized by its medium size. Males typically measure from 2.0 to 2.5 meters in length, although some exceptional individuals can reach around 3.0 meters, although this is uncommon. It’s important to note that these measurements can vary and are not standard for all individuals of the species.

Red Poison Dart Frog

The red poison dart frog (Oophaga pumilio), also known as the red-and-blue poison arrow frog, is a species of venomous frog belonging to the poison dart frog group. This species is distributed along the Caribbean slope, from eastern Nicaragua through Costa Rica to western Panama. Its vibrant red and blue colors make it easily recognizable and attractive. However, it’s important to note that this frog possesses poisonous toxins on its skin, which is an adaptation for defense and survival in its natural habitat.

Endangered Species

On beaches worldwide, we can find four species of endangered sea turtles that come to nest. These species are the Pacific green turtle, loggerhead turtle, and hawksbill turtle. This is a concerning situation as these turtles face multiple threats that jeopardize their survival.

In mangrove areas dominated by red mangrove and white mangrove, various bird species can be observed. Among them are the yellow warbler and the mangrove hummingbird. These birds find mangroves to be a critical habitat for their feeding and reproduction.

Within the forests, mangroves, and coral reefs protected by the Isla Bastimentos Park, there are 28 species of reptiles and amphibians. Unfortunately, over half of these species (17 species) are threatened or endangered. This situation underscores the importance of conserving and protecting these ecosystems, as well as the species that depend on them for survival.

Present Ecosystems

The park harbors a unique mix of ecosystems, including jungles, mangroves, and coral reefs, creating a paradise of biodiversity.

Activities and Excursions


Discover the underwater wonders of Isla Bastimentos through thrilling snorkeling. Immerse yourself in crystal-clear waters and explore vibrant coral reefs, home to a diversity of marine life. Enjoy the beauty and tranquility as you swim alongside colorful tropical fish and observe the fascinating underwater flora and fauna. An unforgettable experience for sea and adventure enthusiasts!

Bird Watching

Embark on an exciting bird-watching adventure. Explore diverse natural habitats, from mangroves to forests, as you search for the numerous bird species that call this place home. With binoculars in hand, marvel at the beauty and variety of tropical birds, such as toucans, hummingbirds, herons, and many more. Enjoy the serenity and connection with nature as you delve into the fascinating world of birds in this natural paradise.

Hiking Trails

Bromelias Trail

The "Bromelias – Cayo Zapatilla 2″ trail covers a distance of 1.8 kilometers. It takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete. This trail is rated as easy in terms of difficulty, making it accessible for most visitors.

It’s important to note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, limited capacity has been established to ensure social distancing and visitor safety. In this case, a maximum of 50 people in groups of up to 5 people each is allowed.

This trail offers an enriching experience where hikers can enjoy the natural beauty of bromeliads and explore the fascinating environment of Cayo Zapatilla 2.

Mirador Trail

Another popular trail in the Isla Bastimentos National Park is the Mirador Trail.

Distance: 3.5 km (round trip). Estimated time: 2 hours. Difficulty Level: Moderate. COVID-19 capacity: 30 people in groups of 5 people.

The Mirador Trail offers an exciting experience for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts. With a total distance of 3.5 kilometers, it’s estimated to take about 2 hours to complete the round trip.

This trail has a moderate difficulty level, involving some steep sections and uneven terrain. However, the effort is well worth it, as upon reaching the viewpoint, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view of the park and its surroundings. This offers a unique opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of Isla Bastimentos and admire its landscape from a privileged perspective.

Bat Cave

Immerse yourself in the mysterious and thrilling experience of exploring the Bat Cave in Isla Bastimentos National Park. Venture into the underground world and discover fascinating rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites as you delve into the depths of the cave. Explore the dark corners and marvel at the secrets these caves hold. Accompanied by an expert guide, you’ll uncover the geological history and unique biodiversity found within these caverns. A unique and captivating adventure that allows you to connect with the hidden beauty of nature.

Tourist Attractions: What to See and Do

Zapatillas Cays

The Zapatillas Cays are two paradise islands within Isla Bastimentos. With beaches of white sand and turquoise waters, they are perfect for sunbathing, snorkeling, and exploring coral reefs. A tropical paradise that will leave you speechless.

Mangrove Islands

The mangrove islands in the southern part of the park are perfect for boating and enjoying the serene landscape. You can also snorkel among the mangrove roots. If you’re adventurous, you can cross Isla Bastimentos on foot through the forest without established trails and visit an inland lagoon. Additionally, in Quebrada de Sal, you can learn about an important indigenous Guaymí community.

Long Beach

Long Beach is a paradisiacal beach to the north of Isla Bastimentos. With its soft sands and crystal-clear waters, it’s perfect for relaxing and enjoying the tranquil environment. During the sea turtle nesting season, you can witness this impressive natural phenomenon. Explore the surroundings, observe birds, and immerse yourself in the rich marine life. Let yourself be captivated by the beauty of Long Beach and enjoy unforgettable moments in this coastal paradise!

Conservation and Threats

Current Conservation Efforts

The park continues its efforts to conserve its unique biodiversity through research programs, species protection, and environmental education.

Challenges and Threats to the Park

Despite its efforts, the park faces threats such as deforestation and climate change that endanger its rich biodiversity.

Rules and Regulations for Visitors

To protect the park, visitors are urged to follow rules and regulations, such as not feeding animals and leaving no trace.

Community and Local Interaction

Interaction with Local Communities

Local communities play a crucial role in the park’s protection and maintenance. Through interaction with them, visitors can experience an authentic and enriching cultural experience. Additionally, collaboration with local communities promotes sustainability and economic development in the region, creating employment opportunities and promoting the conservation of the natural environment. Together, we build a strong bond between the park and the people around it, ensuring a prosperous future for all.

Benefits and Consequences of Tourism for the Community

Tourism has brought development and opportunities to the local community, but also challenges, such as sustainable resource management and the preservation of their culture.

Education and Environmental Awareness

Environmental Education and Awareness Programs

The Isla Bastimentos National Park drives various programs to raise awareness among visitors about the importance of environmental conservation and the unique biodiversity of the area.

Role of the National Park in Global Conservation

Through its conservation efforts, Isla Bastimentos National Park plays a crucial role in global environmental protection.

Scientific Research in Isla Bastimentos National Park

Notable Studies and Research

The park’s rich biodiversity has been the subject of numerous scientific investigations, contributing to our understanding of tropical and marine ecosystems.

Contribution to Scientific Knowledge and Conservation

The research conducted in the park significantly contributes to global science and conservation efforts, providing valuable data and insights.

Photo Gallery