A forgotten jewel set in a secluded corner of the sparkling Pacific. In ancient times it was renowned by indigenous tribes as a place of sacred significance, and named "Palenque", meaning protected sanctuary. Isla Palenque boasts, dramatic bluffs, rolling hills and gentle ridges which make for ideal ocean views, but because its splendor deserves to be protected and celebrated. Rare tropical forests, peaceful mangroves, exotic coconut groves and primordial lagoons are scattered over the island, making it an idyllic habitat for an enormous variety of native plants, wildlife… and discriminating travelers. The longer you stay on Isla Palenque, the more it unfolds its mysteries and treasures to you.
Isla Palenque is some 400 acres, with five miles of coast and over a mile and a half of soft volcanic beaches, ranging from a large zebra-striped crescent beach which forms most of the island's southwest side to numerous secluded private and hidden beaches, known only to those who explore the island extensively. There are stunning views of the ocean in every direction, whether from one of our beaches, serene coconut groves, wild rocky outcroppings or craggy ridges covered with ancient trees. In addition to the unique characteristics of its coast, Isla Palenque offers an equally lush and varied interior. Hike dramatic bluffs, take in the view from gently rolling hills, canoe through exotic lagoons, pass by precious mangroves, float along our tree-top canopy walk, walk through our 220 acres of preserved tropical forest, sight endless species of wildlife along our eleven miles of trails or sip pure water from its ancient artesian spring. Isla Palenque is a naturalist's dream come true.
Isla Palenque has a long and mysterious history. There have been several human chapters in the long lifespan of this island, making The Resort at Isla Palenque just one story of many.
An Ancient Community - the Pre-Columbian period
Recognized as a privileged location from the beginning of human settlement, Isla Palenque was the home of an ancient, pre-Columbian community during the years 500-1400AD, and may have been occupied as long ago as 5,000BC. Its beauty and mystery made it a sacred site for the most holy of ceremonies, and tribes from all over the region came here to worship. While here, important tribal chiefs visited, negotiated and traded with each other, making this the region's prime center of culture and commerce. By Colonial times this ancient community had disappeared, leaving only enough clues about their lives to awaken curiosity and provide a sense of the island's ancient history.
Palenque Means Sanctuary - the Colonial period
A Palenque originally referred to a sanctuary for escaped slaves. During Panama's Spanish Colonial period, indigenous Indians were indentured to work in the Spanish mines. Those who escaped sought refuge in places they fortified with palisades, or palenques. Isla Palenque has been called by that name for as long as maps can ascertain, and so may have harbored escapees during the Colonial period. Perhaps Isla Palenque's standing as a slave sanctuary was what made Chiriqui province Abraham Lincoln's choice for a colony of freed American slaves. Although those plans were never realized, the island's reputation as a secluded refuge has remained.
A Forgotten Jewel - today
Over the last several hundred years, Isla Palenque let the modern world pass it by and has remained a secluded preserve for rare primary forest and hundreds of species of plants, flowers, animals and birds. A pristine oasis of natural beauty, Isla Palenque is now a sanctuary for those who welcome escape from the cares of modern existence.
The island is an idyllic habitat for an enormous variety of flora and fauna. Hundreds of species of plants, flowers, animals and birds make their homes here.
Inhabitants of the Land
Howler monkeys feed their young and socialize in trees hung with colorful orchids and bromeliads. Jungle cats, iguanas, armadillos, porcupines, tropical squirrels and colorful frogs also make this special place their home.
Birds of the Air
In the jungle canopy, vivid warblers, tanagers, woodpeckers, parrots and toucans perch. The mangrove lagoons attract leggy spoonbills, herons and ibis feed while dozens of hummingbirds and butterflies flirt among the flowers. The sky is filled with frigate birds, hawks, pelicans, boobies and caracaras.
Creatures of the Sea
Humpback whales migrate here to mate and calf. During the 4 months of whale season they can be seen every day, along with dolphins, hawksbilled sea turtles and spotted eagle rays. You'll also find mahi-mahi
Committed to sustaining the pristine beauty of our singular site.
Both residents and guests of Isla Palenque can experience all the comforts and amenities you'd expect from a high end boutique resort and still tread lightly on the planet. By preserving and sustaining the land, wildlife and local culture, we ensure that Isla Palenque will remain a green, pristine, natural setting for our residents and guests to enjoy.
Isla Palenque will be a model for modern eco-friendly green resort design and practices. Our efforts include:
Less than 5% of our 400 acres will be built upon, including all buildings, roads and trails. As stewards of Isla Palenque, we will protect this secluded gem from uncontrolled development.
Isla Palenque will protect approximately 220 acres of our forests, lagoons and mangroves as a private forest preserve.
We will strive to attain LEED Platinum Certification, making our resort one of the most ecologically responsible in the world.
We plan to generate a significant portion of Isla Palenque's electricity from on-site solar and wind power. In addition, our architectural designs have been optimized to substantially reduce energy needs compared to most resorts with our high level of service.
Our water conservation and treatment techniques will employ sophisticated water filtration methods and modern water saving devices, and our greywater will be used to supply our irrigation needs.
At Isla Palenque we will reduce, reuse and recycle to eliminate as much solid waste as possible. Our composting program will convert food waste into compost for our farm.
Much of the produce served in our restaurants will be grown in our organic produce farm. The farm will be located on the few already cleared parts of the island and in areas where it can be integrated into the existing ecosystems, to avoid unnecessary forest clearing.
Our buildings will be designed to complement their natural surroundings and harmonize with the stunning setting. The design will honor the land and Panamanian culture while achieving a contemporary look and feel. Time-tested passive cooling techniques will reduce the need for air conditioning while still providing cool comfort.
Most vehicles on the island will be battery-powered electric cars, reducing noise and emissions.
Mostly native plants will be used in our landscaping, reducing irrigation needs; we will use minimal pesticides or herbicides in their maintenance.
Isla Palenque will make efforts to employ mostly local people and will patronize and partner with local businesses; providing sustainable employment and income to dozens of families in the area.
Local guides will be able to provide guests with opportunities to visit area businesses and schools and educate them on local customs and cross-cultural issues.
At our education center, through guided tours and through printed materials, The Resort at Isla Palenque will provide guests and residents with education on: our sustainability practices, island flora and fauna, pre-Columbian history and archeology, the culture of the nearby Ngobe-Bugle tribe and local arts and artisans
Isla Palenque's developers partner with non-profit organizations that support projects benefitting the local community and encourages practices that keep the environment and character of the area maintained.