Isla Palenque Resort: About the Destination

Located in Gulf of Chiriquí, Panama

Isla Palenque Resort is located in the stunning Gulf of Chiriquí, off Panama’s Pacific coast. Connected to the mainland only by a narrow sandbar that disappears at high tide, this private island contains 400 acres of untouched tropical wilderness, including dense jungle, wildlife-rich mangrove forests, golden beaches, and ever-changing shoreline tide pools. Black, volcanic bluffs overlook sapphire bays dotted with smaller islands where few travelers have ever set foot.

Wildlife and Natural History

The peak of the active Barú volcano looms over the Gulf of Chiriquí, hinting at the dramatic tectonic activity that formed the isthmus of Panama many millions of years ago. As the bridge between North and South America, Panama is a hotspot of biodiversity, playing host to creatures from both continents. The private nature reserve on Isla Palenque shelters rare primary forest, fragile coastal ecosystems, and an astonishing diversity of native plants and animals, including an abundance of birds, mammals, and reptiles—from crested parrots to howler monkeys. Colorful fish dart amid offshore coral reefs, and each autumn, humpback whales gather to birth and nurse their calves in the nearby Coiba National Marine Park.

People and Culture

Palenque is a local indigenous word meaning “sanctuary,” which carries significant meaning for both historic and modern life on the island. For thousands of years, Panama’s pre-Columbian peoples treated Isla Palenque as a sacred site reserved for only the most important ceremonies, their veneration recorded in pieces of painted pottery and evidence of ancient burials still being discovered here. Today, the region’s most populous indigenous group is the Ngäbe-Buglé, consisting of several different tribes with similar languages. In coastal towns around the Gulf, Panamanians of indigenous, Spanish, and African ancestry live alongside expatriates drawn to this region for its natural wonders and relaxed pace of life.

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