SIZE: 20 square miles
TAGS: Mangrove tunnel, open-air bungalows, empty surf breaks
Unlike the nearby party town of Bocas, hardly anybody knows about Isla Bastimentos. A water taxi will drop you in Old Bank, where most of the island’s residents live. Head straight to Al Natural, an eco-lodge on the western tip with seven seaside open-air bungalows (doubles from $310 all-inclusive). Spend your days hiking nearby jungle footpaths to the long swaths of beach at Wizard and Red Frog’s, or grab one of the resort’s kayaks and paddle 30 minutes through a mangrove tunnel to the village at Salt Creek. For ridiculously good snorkeling—74 of the Caribbean’s 79 coral types occur in the Bocas archipelago—have the resort book a boat to the fish-riddled Zapatilla Cayes. Experienced surfers: head to Silverbacks, a reef break with one of the heaviest waves in the Caribbean. For mellower rides and excellent instruction, ask the resort where to find local Javier Lijo (half-day, $170).
ACCESS: Fly to Panama City, taxi over to Albrook airport, and fly Air Panama to Bocas Town on Isla Colón. Then catch a water taxi ($3 to $5) at the Bocas Marina for the 15-minute ride over to Bastimentos.