If there is paradise on earth, it is here, it is here. These often quoted lines, written in another language, for another place, come repeatedly to mind when one merely looks around when on Isla Grande. The name is a misnomer, as it is actually a rather small island in the Caribbean, off the mainland town of Portobelo, which is located an hour and a half from Panama City.
Much of Isla Grande is protected and open only to limited tourism. Hopefully, the restrictions will protect this gorgeous, emerald paradise forever. Covered by virgin tropical rainforest, there are two walking trails, one leading to a lighthouse and the other leading to the other side of the island where you will find a postcard-perfect beach, known as La Punta. The beach is surrounded by coral reefs, which give the water a greenish hue. A little further down the beach, the waters are ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving. With the water perpetually at 28 to 30 degrees, no matter what the weather may be like, a dip in the water in Isla Grande is always heavenly.
If you want to go to the Caribbean beach in Isla Grande but don’t feel like a sweaty hike through the tropical rainforest to get there, you can take a boat. Not only is the boat a cool, refreshing alternative to a steamy hike, but you’ll have the added bonus of getting a good look at the mangroves. The way the roots and branches are entangled to create a solid mass on the shallow ocean floor is fascinating.
Your boat driver can take you to another island where he lives in a charming village. Most of the houses are painted in brilliant colors and the walls are decorated with sea shells. The people are mostly dark-skinned descendents who have made the island their home since the colonial era. They make a living from fishing, trading coconuts and tourism. They are disarmingly friendly and happy to receive visitors.
The boat driver might tell you about another island, which was once used by the people as a cremation ground. A few years ago, it was bought by a Spaniard, who burned all the vegetation down to exorcise the place and has since planted palm trees all over the grounds. It stands out as an unusual sight, as it has no natural vegetation, only a massive white mansion.
For accommodation, the Banana Village Beach Resort is perhaps the best option; the only one offering international standard comfort and food. There are 34 rooms , which except during Carnival time (last week of February), are never really full, giving the place an air of quiet exclusivity. Sister Moon Hotel is also a very good option for surfers, backpackers and people who want a more rustic feel.
To book hotel reservations or for more information about Panama travel, tourism, and locations contact Panama Travel Group today.