Half of our Panama trip was spent on Isla Taboga. The small island, with a population of about 1,500, landed on our itinerary because of its close proximity to the capital (just 12 miles away) and we figured an easy, breezy island escape would be just the thing to round out our trip after time spent in the big, bustling city. Getting there, of course, was pretty terrible (catch up here if you missed that post) but we got there nonetheless.
This isn’t really a tourism guide because despite having a travel blog, I would somehow feel like a complete fraud ever claiming to be an expert on anywhere I’ve been. This is just a few facts about a place I’ve been – which might be helpful if you’re planning a visit or might be interesting if armchair tourism is more you’re thing. Either way, here are five facts about Isla Taboga:
- A few times a day, you can walk to another island.
It’s like a two for one deal when you go to Isla Taboga because when the tide is low, a strip of sand appears that links Isla Taboga to the tiny Isla Morro and you can walk to it. Granted, there’s not much there, but it was just about as adventurous as we got with two nine-month-olds in tow.
- It’s home to the second oldest church in the Western Hemisphere.
This is actually kind of a hard fact to verify but I’m just going to go with it. Besides, Iglesia San Pedro is indeed old. I tried to find the actual date it was built but since both the town and the church share the same name, it was a little hard. The town was founded in 1524 so the church was probably built around then too.
- There aren’t a lot of amenities.
No ATMs or banks, only a couple mini-marts and a handful of lodging options make this the kind of place where you’ll want to bring enough cash, lug over groceries and book a place ahead of time if you’re looking to do more than a day trip.
Here’s a helpful list that was provided to us by the owners of our vacation rental, Tres Terrazas.
Plan on bringing all food items you require as the tiny store on the island at times only carries the following: potato, tomato, bell pepper, onion, bread, ice cream, yogurt, milk, soup, rice, pasta & sauce, oil, mayo, eggs, soda, juice, sugar, coffee, paper towels, aluminum foil, canned goods and a few other things. They also sell beer, wine and rum.
- But there is a lot to do.
There’s fishing, kayaking, snorkeling and hiking, to name a few. In all seriousness, we were too hot, tired and busy with babies to do any of that but I have full confidence that those activities do exist and that they are fun. Here’s a little more information. Here was the extent of our activity:
- It’s the Island of Flowers.
Multiple sources say the island’s name means Island of Flowers… in what language, I’m not sure. They might just be saying it’s another name for the island. Either way, there were indeed a lot of flowers…
Panama was our first trip we took with the twins and to be completely honest, had we been visiting before kids, we probably wouldn’t have gone to Isla Taboga. Other places would have called to us… places further afield, places with a little more adventure, places with fewer crying babies (okay, I guess it’s possible that we brought all that nonsense with us) but in the end, with all our extra considerations, Isla Taboga was the place for us. If you’re planning a trip to Panama and it doesn’t work for you to get too far from the capital it’s not a bad place to hit, but if you have the time, the desire and the ability to survive a long bus ride, the travel guru in me thinks there might be a little more out there.
On that note: Here’s a list of Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Panama Highlights. It’s enough to make me think we need to plan another trip to Panama, albeit when the girls are old enough to snorkel, get a yellow fever vaccination and not lose their minds on a long travel day.
Edit: Apparently you can get vaccinated for Yellow Fever anytime after nine months of age so I guess now we’re just waiting on the whole snorkel and survive long bus rides things. I’ll keep you posted as when I think that will be.