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Isla Grande

Map of Isla Grande Panama

 

Isla Grande is a popular place in Panama because of its seclusion, and beauty. People from all places come to the island to enjoy the water, snorkling, fishing, listening to the sea and skinny dipping(at night mostly).The island's name does not really reflect it's size, but in comparison to the other islands that surround it, it is the biggest island.

The present population, of afrocolonial origin, can be traced back to the period of massive forced migrations, specially from the regions of Guinea and the Congos, from where they take their name ¨Congos¨. Believers in magic, they still practice a rhythmic dance with its contagious drumbeat. You can visit as well the cathedral of the Black Christ, credited for numerous miracles.

Isla Grande - Crystal Clear beaches.

On your way to the island you will pass the historic town of portobelo, founded 400 years ago by the Spanish conquistadores and where Sir Francis Drake, the famous corsair, met his death.


I remember, during the 80's, coming to Isla Grande was not really a pleasant drive because the roads were dirt roads and during the raining season, they would simply be deformed with water accumulation everywhere. The right vehicle to use would be 4x4's only. Nowadays, the road is mmade of asphalt and the wave roads and 1000% better. After passing Maria Chiquita's beach and Portobelo, your next and final stop is at "La Guaira".

Visiting

Isla Grande Fun in the Water - Panama1.com

La Guaira is where you leave your vehicle or tour bus, and then hop on a boat to ride across to the island. Expect to pay 2 dollars per day for parking. While your at it, touch the water. Some of the best snorkling happens right there in between Isla Grande and La Guaira. Don't worry, your ride is very short lived because it only lasts less than 10 minutes.

Isla Grande has shallow beaches that are calm and protected from the sea currents

The best lodgin in the island is at Bananas Resort. The resort is marketed internationally and strives to provide accomodations, service and entertainment for its patrons. It is located in the west of the island calle "La Punta". The Island also has other cabana type lodging that you can stay at. See below for more information on them.

In front of the hotel is the only place of the island that has a measurable sandy extension that is open to the public and it is a great place to sunbathe and meet other people. This is also where I think most of the skinny dipping happens. :)

The Lighthouse (El faro)

Isla Grande Light House - Panama1.com

On the East of the island, on it's highest point, there is a lighthouse, designed and constructed by the french to complement the canal they were building back in the late 1800's. Their version of the canal ended up a failure after mismanagement and the malaria took down most of the people hired for the construction. The original light that sat atop was designed by none other that Gustav Eiffel himself. It now is located at the Panama Canal Museum with a replacement now in the tower.

Isla Tambor - Panama1.com

A walk to the lighhouse is sort of a small expedition that takes from the village, around a rocky beachfront frequented by surfers when the swell is happening, and up the hill where it seats. The hill has steps to help your climb. Once up there the view of the Atlantic Ocean is magnificent as the wind hits you and you are able to look at the waves splash of the rocks below. It is a very liberating and romantic place as well.


Food

Isla Grande - Panama - Food and Restaurants

There are small restaurants that you will stumble upon as you walk thru the town in Isla Grande. Seafood is, of course, fresh as the islanders fish lobster, crab and fish for the restaurants. I once tood the opportunity to fish at "El Cristo Negro", a statue of Christ that seats in the waters in front of the town, and I was surprise to get a small barracuda that didn't really put up a strong fight. Although I was really surprised at how sharp it's teeth were, what really blew me was how delicious it turned out to be after I had the restaurant owner cook it for me. It was delicious.

If you are a vegetarian, talk to the restaurant owners to see what they can fix up for you because most of the plates are gear towards non-vegetarians. Plantains, "patacones", coconut flavored rice, a small lettuce and tomatoes salad, meats, seafood are what most plates have. If you want to have a more plentyfull menu with more varieties go to the resort.

Isla Grande Restaurant  - Panama

 

 

Lodging.

Secluded Cabanas Isla Grande Panama

Isla Grande Logding - Panama - Panama1.comIsla Grande Logding - Panama - Panama1.com

 

Restaurante/Hotel Cabañas Cholita:. Tel. (507)-232-4561.

Villa Ensueño: in front of the Cristo Negro. (507)-448-2964.

Cabañas Candy Rose: (507)448-2947 / 6656-6917.

Hotel Aguamarina Eco Lodge: . (507)6527-0909.

Hotel Sister Moon: (507) 226-9861 / 674-1473.

Bananas Resort: (507)263-9510

Ask locals if you are looking for a house to rent.

 

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Last Modified May 31, 2009