Spending the day relaxing, exploring, diving and/or snorkeling on and around the secluded Isla Iguana is a MUST during your stay on the Azuero Peninsula!
Once a U.S. bombing range, Isla Iguana is now a protected wildlife refuge just a 15-20 minute boat ride from the town of Pedasi. With white sands and turquoise waters, it is home to several native animals, including crabs, green and black iguanas, red-throated frigates, boa constrictors, and sea turtles.
As you walk around the island, you’ll be boggled by the amount of hermit crabs clambering for a piece of a shady spot and it will become clear why the island is named what it is.
The island is also a prime snorkeling and diving spot because of the surrounding coral reefs, one of the largest and most preserved in the Gulf of Panama and filled with tropical fish and other sea life, including five different species of sea turtles.
There are two times during the year where the island is extra special—from April to September, the sea turtles lay their eggs there, and from June to November, hump back whales are active in the immediate area. Imagine watching a whale breeching from a small motorboat!
Choose a guided tour or a solo adventure. Your solo Isla Iguana excursion will begin at Playa Arenal, the main beach just outside of Pedasi. Weather and tide permitting, there will almost always be at least one fisherman available to transport you the eight kilometers to the island in their small fishing boat—or you can make arrangements to meet our favorite fisherman, Papin.
This trip is weather and tide dependent, which your tour guide or our favorite fisherman, Papin, will happily assist you with. At low tide, the sea in front of the main beach (El Cirial Beach) is nearly dry, prohibiting both snorkeling and boat access so it’s important to time your journey to the island well in order to maximize the enjoyment of your visit.
You will usually be dropped off on El Cirial, where you will quickly check in with the local rangers (there is no charge, they just want to know who you are so make sure you have your passport).
A short walk on a dirt trail that winds through some vegetation will bring you the smaller, semi-secluded and very rocky El Faro Beach. This is where you will likely be meeting your boat driver for the return trip. Follow paths and be respectful while you explore all the nooks and crannies of the island.
El Cirial is the place for laying out, swimming or snorkeling in calmer waters, enjoying a shady spot, or using the bathroom; El Faro is where to find a more quiet spot and gaze at the waves or for the more adventurous snorkelers and divers.
The only facilities located on Isla Iguana are bathrooms and a small covered patio area with tables and benches. If you plan on having the full island experience, bring a small cooler with enough food, water and sunblock to last you for most of the day, a camera and your book. Note that alcoholic beverages are prohibited on the island, so you’ll have to wait until you get back to the mainland to have that cerveza.
And, please…take out EVERYTHING you bring in to help keep this beautiful island sanctuary pristine!
Check out this cool Isla Iguana video: