Isla Palenque is located off the western Pacific shore of Panama, near the border of Costa Rica. Isla Boca Brava is just to the north, semi-attached to Isla Palenque by a sandy land bridge. Isla Palenque is in the Gulf of Chiriquí (Golfo de Chiriquí), which is considered by savvy sport fishermen as one of the best kept secrets in big game fishing.
A Palenque originally referred to a refuge for escaped slaves. During Central America’s colonial period, indigenous Indians were indentured to work in the Spanish mines. Those who escaped sought sanctuary in places they fortified with palisades, or palenques. Isla Palenque has been called by that name for as long as maps can determine, and so may have been used to harbor escapees during the colonial period.
Over the last several hundred years, Isla Palenque let the modern world pass by and has remained a secluded preserve for rare primary forest and hundreds of species of plants, flowers, animals and birds.
According to archeologist Olga F. Linares in her book Adaptive Radiations in Prehistoric Panama, Isla Palenque has been a prized location from the start of human settlement, and was the home of an ancient, pre-Columbian farming community some time during the years 500-1400AD. It may even have been occupied as long ago as 5,000BC. Due to the beauty and mystery of the island, it became a sacred site for the most holy of ceremonies, and tribes from all over the province came here to worship. Important tribal chiefs were known to negotiate and trade with each other, making this the province’s prime center of culture and commerce. By Colonial times this ancient community had vanished, leaving only enough clues about their lives to awaken curiosity and provide a sense of the island's ancient history.
From David's Enrique Malek International Airport: Isla Palenque can be accessed by boat from the small fishing village of Boca Chica, just 5 miles from Isla Palenque over water. Boca Chica is less than an hour from Enrique Malek International Airport. Alternatively, a five minute car ride from David to the nearby port of Pedregal will enable travelers to board a boat for the 50 minute scenic ride to the island. Construction has begun to expand David's airport to accommodate direct regular flights from the United States and Canada.
Many guests at Isla Palenque simply walk between the rooms and restaurants spread over the island, on the 2 miles of roads or along the many hiking trails on the island. In addition, the resort runs shuttles for its guests upon request.
This tropical paradise spans over 400 acres, with 5 miles of coast and over a mile and a half of beaches, ranging in size from a large 4100 foot long crescent shaped beach to idyllic private beaches less than 100 feet long. There are dazzling views of the ocean, zebra-striped volcanic beaches, serene coconut groves and wild rocky outcroppings or rocky ridges covered with primeval trees. In addition to the exceptional quality of its coast, the island is a tranquil home for a vast range of flora and fauna including many variety of bromeliads and orchids. Hundreds of species of plants, flowers, animals and birds make their homes here. Howler monkeys, Jungle cats, iguanas, armadillos, porcupines, tropical squirrels, and colorful frogs also make this special place their home, as do an array of tropical birds, such as parrots, pelicans, frigate birds, hawks, herons and egrets.
Isla Palenque has a 200 acre nature preserve, miles of trails, and several beaches. The private island resort on it provides guided tours on and around the island, as well as trips out to nearby islands, for snorkeling, fishing and other activities. Also in the Gulf are Coiba National Marine Park and Islas Secas, both known for world class scuba diving and snorkeling. Isla Palenque's temperatures are fairly consistent year round, with 90 degree temperatures during the day with 70 degree temperatures at night. Isla Palenque, like most of Panama, has a rainy season from May through November and a dry season from December through April.
The Resort at Isla Palenque runs two restaurants and bars for its guests, which are not open to the general public. There are a few restaurants open to the public in nearby Boca Chica, as well the restaurants in the local inns on the mainland, Gone Fishing, Seagull Cove Lodge, and Hotel Bocas del Mar.
- The Resort at Isla palenque, Isla Palenque, ☎ +507 777 9260, toll-free: +800 777 9260, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Resort at Isla Palenque opened in 2013. As of 2014 it has 10 rooms available, as well as two restaurants and bars, and plans to begin construction on vacation homes in 2014. The ten rooms are spread over the island along with two restaurants and bars, a spa, a 200 acre nature preserve, 12 beaches, and miles of hiking trails. The resort is well regarded for its attentive and highly personalized service. $299 to $899.