Coiba island

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Coiba is a national park dedicated to nature and the sea. A real attraction for scuba diving, the island also has an extraordinary history.

History and situation

This island is remembered as one of the most important penitentiaries in the country; opened in 1919, this open-air prison will accommodate up to 3000 prisoners at the same time and has about thirty camps scattered in abundant vegetation. Under dictatorship, political prisoners mix with criminals, few of whom can escape. It is located up towards Costa Rica on the Pacific side. In fact, the main island and the forty or so adjoining islets are about 20 kilometers from the coast.

To discover and to do:

Today the island is best known for its incredible marine park where whales compete (the island is on a whale passage), sharks. Other marine species such as dolphins or turtles are present. It is also a place of passage for Manta rays. Coiba is a real ecosystem where hikers can also visit the penitentiary and enjoy endemic wildlife.

To get there :

From Panama City, it takes about eight hours. Access is then by small boats with local fishermen on day trips. No hotels on the islands but opposite, many small charming hotels are accessible. It is also possible to take a plane to David and then take the road again.


Coiba is the symbol of change! Real hell with his penitentiary where it was impossible to escape, the destination has become a paradise for the country.