Parque Nacional Marino Golfo de Chiriquí
Parque Nacional Marino Golfo de Chiriquí was founded in 1994 to protect 14,730 hectares or 36,400 acres of coral reef, mangrove swamp and marine meadow. This area of the gulf is also dotted with islands covered in forests and white sand with air that is clean and temperate; making the islands the epitome of tropical paradise. Frommer’s Panama calls it “one of Panama’s best kept secrets.” Due to the many North American expatriates and retirees settling in the nearby tourist hot spot of Boquete, it may not be a secret for long.
From David’s Enrique Malek International Airport: Parque Nacional Marino Golfo de Chiriquí can be accessed by boat from the small fishing village of Boca Chica. Boca Chica is less than an hour from Enrique Malek Regional Airport in David. 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 area. Construction has begun to expand David's airport to accommodate direct regular flights from the U.S. and Canada.
The archipelago can only be accessed by boat.
These islands are home to an astonishing array of land and water creatures; a naturalist's dream come true. The PNMGC consists of the archipelago of Las Isla Parida. The park is known for chances to see: green iguanas, humpback whales (from August to October), hammerhead sharks, dolphins and multiple species of sea turtle on the island beaches.
There is plenty to do at Parque Nacional Marino Golfo de Chiriquí. In addition to scuba and snorkeling in the turquoise waters, there is renowned sport fishing to be had further out into the Chiriquí gulf, just beyond the park. Sport fishing is especially popular near Islas Ladrones, Islas Secas, Boca Brava and Isla Palenque.
Camping is allowed in cabins on the main island in the park, Isla Parida, but most people stay on the mainland in nearby Boca Chica. Try Seagull Cove. There are a few places to stay on other islands in the area. There is eco-resort Cala Mia and backpacker friendly Hotel Boca Brava on Boca Brava. There will be a new boutique eco-resort, The Resort at Isla Palenque, which plans to break ground in 2010 and will launch the sale of its luxury vacation homes in January 2010.