Day 279 of 365 Things To Do in Panama

Day 279 of 365 Things To Do in Panama. Visit Coiba Island - A Prison Island Turned Paradise!

Coiba Island was once considered the Devils Island of Central America. From 1919-2004 it was home to Panama's most dangerous criminals and to those who found themselves on the wrong side of political struggles. Coiba Island Prison, also known as “Los Desaparecidos”, had at one time 3000 inmates in about 30 camps around the islands. Remnants of the buildings can still be seen, along with prisoner writings on the walls.

Coiba National Park, located approximately 25 nautical miles from Santa Catalina, was declared a Marine UNESCO Heritage Site in 2005 due to its evolutionary significance and the inhabitance of at-risk species on the islands. The park encompasses 38 islands and their surrounding reefs in the Gulf of Chiriqui and is one of the most diverse regions on the planet.

Due to the unique location there are no flights or ferries. Most people arrive to Coiba National Park via tour providers and dive operators or commission local boat captains from Santa Catalina, El Banco or Puerto Mutis.

Initiatives are in place to protect the island's ecosystem and overnight guests are limited.

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