Isla Parida Cruise Port

Port of Isla Parida: An Overview

The center of a collection of smaller islands, Isla Parida gives its name to the archipelago, which comprises more than a dozen other islets. Encompassing more than 57 miles, the entire collection has been under protection by UNESCO since 1994.

Not a bustling port, and one that doesn't require much more than a couple of hours to explore, Isla Parida is home to some staggeringly beautiful natural sights, like Chiriqui National Marine Park, which boasts more than 36,000 acres of both land and sea.

The island doesn't tout many hiking trails, but the ones it does offer are moderate and take just between 45 minutes to an hour to complete. You can do the hike alone, but certified guides are a better option, as they'll educate you on the 1,000+ species of trees, plants and other fauna you'll walk through.

Water exploration is also popular, with most people diving and swimming around the aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Chiriqui. Here you'll find a beautiful array of tropical fish, lush mangroves, sea turtles and dolphins.

For beach-goers, the island has a beautifully soft, white sand coast that beckons suntanning and relaxing. There are a few small handicraft displays that sell locally made crafts, so make sure to bring some cash so you can pick up a souvenir or two if you're interested.

Don't Miss

Chiriqui National Marine Park: Spanning more than 36,000 acres of verdant rainforest, unique wildlife and the Chiriqui Gulf, this National Marine Park is one of the best places to snorkel and hike in the entire country. In the ocean, you'll find humpback whales, whitetip and hammerhead sharks, dolphins, giant manta rays and tropical fish while on land, you'll spot an endless variety of birds (like macaws and toucans) that call the rainforest canopies home. Most ships will offer ways to see and experience the park, whether by snorkeling expeditions or guided hikes. Make sure you pack your camera, as both will offer incredible photography opportunities -- whether it's as you're boating around the Gulf and spotting pods of dolphins or hiking through the rainforest and watching tropical birds soar above. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, another highlight of the park is the collection of staggering rock formations scattered around the Gulf. A boat ride around will give you an up-close view of these outcrops, and will showcase the small, white sandy islands that also decorate the waters of the park.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Panama's currency is the Panamanian balboa, but U.S. dollars are the preferred tender. Check www.xe.com for current exchange rates. Finding an ATM can be difficult, especially if you've booked a shore excursion to the park, so bring plenty of cash with you before disembarking.

Language

Spanish is the primary language of Isla Parida and Panama. However, most of the guides and tour leaders speak fluent (or at least conversational) English.

For More Information

On the Web: Visit Panama
Cruise Critic Message Boards: Panama Canal
IndependentTraveler.com: Panama Canal Travel Guide

--By Claire Gallam, Cruise Critic contributor

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