20km (13 miles) from Portobelo; 105km (65 miles) from Panama City
Isla Grande is a Caribbean island getaway frequented by residents of Panama City because it's close enough to get to without flying. A tiny village stretches along the western shore, and there are no roads -- residents get around by foot or water taxi. During high season and some weekends Isla Grande can get very festive, with drinking and loud reggae music; weekdays are often dead. The largest beach is in front of the Hotel Isla Grande, which has a day-use fee of $3 (£1.50) per person; otherwise you'll need to walk along the shoreline trail or hire a water taxi for a couple of bucks to take you to the beach on the north shore of the island. A short boat ride to Isla Mamey will put you on an uninhabited beach, and there are other boat tours, too, but mostly people come here just to unplug for a day or two. Altogether, Isla Grande is an idyllic place, though it's best for travelers who'd like a taste of the Caribbean but are not planning to visit other island destinations in Panama.