This long narrow island is separated from the mainland by barely 300 meters of swampy estuary and in 1994 it was declared a Wildlife Refuge.
The Isla Cañas area has a very high ecological value due to its variety and extension of mangrove. However, for many people, its main attraction is the 10 kilometer sandy beach that faces out to sea, where over 30,000 turtles arrive each year to lay their eggs.
Five out of the six Pacific Ocean marine turtle species come to Isla Cañas. The highest concentration of turtles arrives between September and November, but turtles continue to arrive throughout the year. It is the most important nesting site for sea turtles on Panama’s Pacific coast.
Island locals have traditionally harvested and sold turtle eggs as a way of earning a living. Recent campaigns have tried to promote tourism as a more turtle-friendly way of earning an income. Locals now work together with the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) to protect the turtles and their eggs.