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Isla Bolaños, which along with 24 other protected islands, forms the Chiriqui Marine Park. Isla Bolaños bears all the hallmarks of a perfect desert island: white sand, palm trees, blue waters, and a beautiful seabed to explore!

Although the underwater visibility can be variable in this area, Isla Bolaños coastal waters are home to a very diverse and dense sea life. It includes triggerfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, groupers, porkfish, and the occasional hawksbill sea turtles.

Porkfish Isla Bolanos
The Panama porkfish is a common sighting at this location.

How to get to the Isla Bolaños snorkeling spot

Bolaños is located in the southeastern part of the Chiriqui Marine Park, which comprises 25 islands and dozens of coral reefs.

Boca Chica, on the mainland, is the gateway to the archipelago. You will find there a choice of day and half-day tours to Chiriqui Marine Park.  The prices ranging from $20 to $150 per person, depending on the duration and inclusions.

Tours usually include stops at several locations in the Park, the most popular being Bolaños, Gámez and Paridas. Check that Bolaños is included in the itinerary before you book your tour.

Isla Bolanos snorkeling map, Panama

Water entrance for snorkeling Isla Bolaños

The recommended water entrance is the island’s northernmost beach. This is probably the beach on which you will be landing if you take part in a snorkeling tour.

This beach indeed is the closest to the most preserved coral reef on this part of the island. If you are dropped off on a different beach (such as Secret Beach), ask your guide for advice on where the best spot to snorkel is.

Isla Bolaños snorkeling exploration tips

Isla Bolaños features a mainly rocky seabed, with a few corals. Between the rocks, large areas are covered with sand and seaweed. If you stay close to the shore, the depth generally does not exceed 6 to 10 ft. deep.

Moray eel Isla Bolanos
A jewel moray on Isla Bolaños rocky beds.

Isla Bolaños coastal waters allow the observation of a wide range of species. Among the easiest to see are the blacknosed butterflyfish, the king angelfish, several species of pufferfish, and the Mexican hogfish.

The area also has large shoals of razor surgeonfish and Panama porkfish.

If you have the opportunity to get down close to the seabed you will find that some of the overhangs and holes in the rocks are occupied by moray eels.

Stone triggerfish in Isla Bolanos
The stone triggerfish is common in Isla Bolaños.

Isla Bolaños is frequently visited by hawksbill sea turtles, which you may encounter at shallow depths. Chiriqui was listed as a National Park in 1994, and as such, the area is a no-fishing zone.

As a result, it features a very good density and diversity of fish, and most of them can be easily approached.

Mexican barred snapper in Isla Bolanos
A Mexican barred snapper

The underwater visibility in Chiriqui Marine Park can sometimes drop to nearly zero, especially after heavy rain.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

There are no amenities on the island, so it is recommended to bring with you plenty of water and some snacks. Some tours include lunch. Check what is included in your tour before you book it.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaParque nacional marino Golfo de Chiriquí
  • Maximum depth10ft/3m
  • Water entranceFrom a sandy beach
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsBoat tour from Boca Chica (from $20 pp.)
  • Restaurants nearbyNo

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.