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World Heritage Site

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Coiba National Park

Coiba National Park
Photo provided by Eva Kisgyorgy

Coiba National Park is an important place for the survival and study of many species of fish and marine mammals.

The park protects Coiba Island, 38 smaller islands and the surrounding marine areas within the Gulf of Chiriquí.

Coiba Island is covered with primary forest, one of the last relicts of tropical moist forest in the region. It has many (endemic) birds. The marine zone is home to 760 species of fish, 33 shark species and 20 cetacean species.

After Coiba got disconnected from the mainland (some 12,000 years ago), new fauna and flora species are being formed, turning the island into a scientific laboratory.

Map of Coiba National Park


  • Natural

Community Reviews

Taylor Kessel USA -

I had the pleasure of spending an entire day surfing some of the most beautiful and untouched breaks of Coiba in the summer of 2006. After about an hour and a half boat ride from Santa Catalina, we arrived on an uninhabited paradise of jungle reaching down to the beaches and cliffs aiming towards the heavens. We explored many of the point breaks and did a bit of snorkeling near a few reefs sheltered from the larger waves arriving from the south. The highlight of the day trip including a two hour session surfing on the west side where I spent the majority of my time observing the Scarlett Maccaws flying overhead and landing on the beach only feet away! Be advised though, this island is nature at its finest and most untouched, which comes from my observation of several large shadows circling underneath my board at one point in time... My guess, bull or whitetip sharks investigating the strange creatures that had stopped by for a visit and to take in the wonders of this gorgeous island!

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Community Rating

Community Rating 4.00. Based on 1 votes.

Site Info

Full name: Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection

Unesco ID: 1138

Inscribed: 2005

Type: Natural

Criteria: 9   10  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2005 - Inscribed 


The site has 1 locations.

  • Coiba National Park


The site has 9 connections.


  • Prison: The penal colony still operates!


  • Turtles and tortoises: Coiba Island also provides nesting beaches for at least four species of sea turtles [hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), olive ridley, (Lepidochelys olivacea), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), and leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea)] (nom file)
  • Coral: The Coiba National Park has the second largest reef in the eastern Pacific and the largest aggregation of coral reefs of any in the marine biological corridor incorporating Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador (nom file)



  • Places of Execution: "During the years that Panama was under the Dictatorships of Omar Torrijos and Manuel Noriega, the prison on Coiba was a feared place with a reputation for brutal conditions, extreme tortures, executions and political murder. Nobody knows exactly how many people were killed in the prison during this period, but sources claim that the number could be close to three hundred. " (wiki)


  • Holocene: Coiba Island and the smaller islands in the Gulf of Chiriquí are known as landbridge islands, meaning that they were last connected to the Mainland during the end of the Pleistocene, approximately 12,000 years ago. With a direct connection to tierra firme, they shared a common flora and fauna with the continent, but since their separation, new ecological and biological processes have resulted in the readjustment of the flora and fauna (nom file)

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