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On the mainland are cloud forests and the national parks of the Talamanca Range, while just offshore lies an archipelago of some 70 islands which form part of one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. Panama's little-known idyllic archipelago of picture postcard tropical islands is easily accessible from the mainland.

A short flight or taxi-boat ride from the mainland is the main island of the archipelago; Isla Colon, named after Columbus, who sailed through here on his fourth and final voyage to the Americas. Aside from the obvious appeal of the white-sand beaches and Caribbean Sea, there are plenty of activities to choose from, including boat trips around the isolated virgin beaches of the archipelago, snorkelling over coral reefs, rainforest hiking, community visits to Indian villages, and dolphin spotting.

Another option is to continue by boat to the island of Bastimentos, which covers an area of about 20 square miles. It is mostly jungle and has no roads, cars, or airstrips.

Activities include guided nature trails to discover the local flora and fauna (from monkeys to moths and turtles), sea kayaking in the lagoons and mangroves, and snorkelling or diving on the coral reefs of the Bastimentos National Marine Park. You can also enjoy excellent birdwatching and fishing, visit a local cocoa farm to see the chocolate-making process, take day trips to the forest reserves of the mainland, or just relax on one of the many beautiful beaches of the archipelago, we recommend asking to be marooned on your own desert island for the day - all you need is a good book, snorkelling gear and a radio to request a sunset pick up.

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Bocas Del Toro
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A Note on Price

A 10-day itinerary to Panama, visiting Panama City, the highlands and the San Blas islands, will cost from around £2,400 per person including flights.