Isla Iguana is a Galapagos-esque island that sits about 15 minutes offshore – inhabited by rare birds, purple and red crabs, and giant lizards. It offers clear blue water and white sand as nice as any Caribbean island.
An extensive coral reef surrounds the palm-dotted island, giving it a powdery, blinding, white-sand beach, and its crystal-clear, shallow waters offer some excellent snorkeling.
Isla Iguana has the only white-sand beach on the Azuero Peninsula. At only 15 minutes by boat from Playa Arenal near Pedasí, Isla Iguana is the top natural attraction of the Azuero Peninsula. The island is less than 1 km long and is covered with coconut palms and tropical vegetation. There are two beaches to choose from – the main larger beach is Playa El Cirial, and then there is the smaller Playita del Faro on the other side of the island. Isla Iguana is home to the largest coral reef in the Gulf of Panama. The 99 acres reef has 14 different coral species, more than 200 species of invertebrates, and at least 350 different tropical fish species. The island’s only inhabitants are the crabs, iguanas, and the more than 5,000 great frigate birds that use it as a rookery. Isla Iguana and its large coral reef are protected within the Reserva de Vida Silvestre Isla Iguana.
The history Isla Iguana includes a stint during World War II when it was used by the U.S. Air Force as a bombing range. In the middle of the island is a lighthouse with views of the bomb craters.
Panama’s version of the EPA (called ANAM) has a small caretakers facility by the main beach and charges a small fee to visit the island. Fishing is prohibited in the reserve, as is removing anything from the reef, or island. For more information, go to the Web site of the non-profit Fundación Isla Iguana.