Coiba Island National Park was established in 1991. Coiba Island National Park takes 50 minutes by plane or 10 hours by car from Panama City. There is a biological station, a watchtower in Cerro Santa Cruz and Cerro La Torre, a marine path, and you can scuba dive from any of the islands in the park. Coiba Island was used as refuge of pirates, and pre-Colombian remains have also been found that originate 2500 years ago.
The park can be reached by road via Santiago, following the main road that goes to Puerto Mutis, from where you cross by boat to the park. The crossing depends on the weather and the boat and can can take anything from 2 hours to 6 hours. The runway in Coiba Island allows arrival by air. When visit Coiba Island you must have permission from the Penal Correction Division of the Ministry of Government and Justice and the Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente (ANAM). .
The park covers 270,125 hectares, of which 216,543 are sea, and protects the marine, island and coastal ecosystem. The largest of the islands is Coiba (50,314 hectares) which is the largest island in Panama. As well as Coiba, the other islands are Jicaron, Jicarita, Canal de Afuera, Afuerita, Pajaros, Uva, Brincanco. The total area of all the islands is 53,582 hectares
There is a wide diversity of flora and fauna set in very beautiful, virtually untouched scenery. The pristine state of conservation of this archipelago is due primarily to the fact that Coiba Island has been a penal colony. since 1919.
80% of Coiba Island is covered with original vegetation, the other 20% of disturbed forest has come about from the penal colony camps and limited forest extraction in the past. Coiba Island has coastal plains under 100 meters high in the north and southeast of the island, with low hills up to 200 meters high covering the rest of the island. In the centre of the island, Cerro de La Torre at 416 meters and Cerro San Juan at 406 meters are the highest points on the island.
At least 3 different species of marine turtles come here to nest. In addition the islands have some of the best coral reefs of Panama Pacific. The average annual temperature is about 26º C and average annual rainfall is 3,500mm. 1,450 species of vascular plants have been recorded here, and in particular lots of cotton trees, panama wood, and spiny cedar.
The Spanish Co-operation Agency AECI have had a biological station in the park since 1993. And they have noted 36 species of mammals, 147 birds and 39 species of amphibious and reptiles.
Coiba is the only place in Panama where it is still possible to see a whole flocks of the threatened scarlet macaws. The Coiba spinetail is worthy of note.
The coral reef in Damas Bay covers 135 hectares and is the largest in Central America. 69 species of sea fish, 12 echinoderm, 45 mollusks and 13 crustaceans have been identified in the protected area. Among these are whale shark, tiger shark, manta, dolphin fish, and yellow-fin tuna. The humpback whale, the killer whale (orca), pans tropical dolphin and the bottlenose dolphin.
There are no hotels located near the park.
Panama National Parks