Taboga Island

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(Check, 23 March 2018)

Isla Taboga is one of a thousand islands found on the Gulf of Panama, However, Isla Taboga is different from all others.  The island is within sight of Panama City, less than 25 minutes by the fast ferry.  Living on Isla Taboga offers the best of all worlds: proximity to a large cosmopolitan city and the comfort and solitude of island living in a small village of 1000 islanders.


Isla Taboga’s climate is termed Tropical Maritime by climatologists. Marine conditions modify temperatures on Isla Taboga.  Daytime temperatures average around 83 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. Nighttime temperatures average around 75 degrees.  It’s not uncommon to have the edge of high pressure frontal systems occupy the region bringing 65 degree temperatures.  Isla Taboga lies in the path of theTrade Winds from the NE in winter and from the SE in Summer. Gentle sea breezes are always present. Isla Taboga is out of hurricane paths. Panama has never experienced a hurricane. Tropical climates have a wet season and a dry season, and Isla Taboga is no exception. Although it rains more on Panama’s mainland than on Isla Taboga, the rainy season starts in May and builds through November.  There’s an old saying in Panama, “The rain ends on 15 December,” and that’s literally true.  From 15 December through April, the skies are clear and sunny.  January through April are the tourist months of Isla Taboga. Many visitors a day from Panama and abroad come to Isla Taboga to bathe in its clear, clean tropical waters and walk its winding paths of the quiet town of San Pedro.


As in any tropical climate, the flora of Isla Taboga is a stunning display of nature’s vitality.  The lianas, bromeliads, orchids, ferns, and fruit trees are typical of the lush, perennial rainforest that exists throughout much of the island. The island boasts the nickname of “The Island of Flowers.” Nisperos, mameyes, nance, mango, tamarind, and the island’s pineapples, world famous for their sweetness, are grown for the beautification of the town and the utter enjoyment of visitors.


The Gulf of Panama is shallow, where depths of 500 feet are reached only outside its perimeter.  A variation of about 1 to 2 feet between high and low tides exist on the Caribbean coast and a 16 foot tides on the Pacific side.  Tides on Isla Taboga range from 11 to 18 feet. At high tide, the sand bar that joins Isla Taboga’s offshore island, El Morro, is submerged in 4 feet of water.  Low tides expose a rocky shoreline in some places, and in others, a wide, white sand beach is exposed. There are two tidal changes per day on Isla Taboga.

Water Depth

Isla Taboga’s small bay in front of the town of San Pedro and Playa Honda reaches depths of 40 to 60 feet offshore.  The water offshore from Playa Restinga is much shallower at 10 to 20 feet.  A third bay, Bahia Noreste, located on Isla Taboga’s northeastern side, also reaches depths of 40 to 60 feet.  Isla Taboga’s offshore depths offer safe anchorage for any size vessel.


Isla Taboga and the other five islands in the immediate vicinity are of volcanic origin, having formed some 2 million years ago when the earth’s crust rose to connect North and South America.  It is a relatively new landscape on the geologic timescale

Panama and Isla Taboga do not have earthquakes. Unlike Costa Rica to the northwest and Colombia to the southeast, Panama lies well away from the margins of tectonic activity that have reeked havoc in almost every other country in the region.  Age old buildings and modern skyscrapers attest to Panama’s safe location.

Isla Taboga is approximately 12 miles from the mainland of Panama, and the brightly lit skyline of Panama City can be easily observed at night anywhere on the island.  The juxtaposition of the quaint pueblo of San Pedro on Isla Taboga allows for spectacular sunrises over the Gulfo de Panama. At night, the moon rises over the waters, allowing all the ambiance of full romance.

Isla Taboga’s coastal perimeter is about 8 miles long. There are three mountain peaks of modest height.  El Vigia (the watchtower) is the highest at almost 1200 feet. At the top of El Vigia is an old U.S. Army gun emplacement that’s been converted to a mirador with a panoramic view of the Gulfo de Panama, Panama coast line and surrounding islands.  On clear nights, stargazers are treated to a brilliant southern sky that often reveals both the Big Dipper and Southern Cross. The next highest peak is Cerro de la Cruz, the site of a 20 foot cross that dates back to the founding of the island in 16h century.

The southern length of Isla Taboga is steep faced and barely accessible except by boat.  This part of the island has been designated a national protective habitat for the migrating Brown Pelican that makes it its home once a year.

The waters of this part of the Pacific Ocean are the home of some of the best sport fishing in the world. Black Marlin, Blue Marlin, Pacific Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Roosterfish, Wahoo, Cubera Snapper, Corvina, and Amberjack, just to name a handful. Isla Taboga is a fishing town.  Everybody on the island over the age of 15 can be your guide to some of the best fishing in the world.

The northern shore of Isla Taboga is the site of the picturesque town of San Pedro and the first port on the Pacific Ocean in the New World.  Panama City was the first town on the Pacific Coast, but its offshore topography and tidal variations prevented it becoming a port.  Isla Taboga was better sited. It’s a well known historical fact that Pizzaro used Isla Taboga’s wood to build the ships he used to conquer the Incas in 1539. The historical ruins in the town of San Pedro were once inhabited by Pizzaro.