Welcome to this guide to The island of Gustave Eiffel's Lighthouse.
Isla Grande is a really good place to sleep if you are planning on visiting Venas Azules. It is a tinny island of about 1.5 km2 and you can only get there by boat. In this article, we will show you how to get there, tips on what to do, and how to get to the lighthouse.
We also want to let everyone know that this stop wasn’t planned on our rote, we mistakenly booked a hotel on this Island as it was cheaper than the surroundings and it looked really nice, but we were just looking for an accommodation that was close to Venas Azules.
On The Way.
On the way to Isla Grande, you can stop in Portobelo, and visit the Porbelo ruins for free. Note that Venas Azules is located before Isla Grande if you are coming from Panama City or Colón.
The last gas stations before getting to the port are on Sabanitas (which is 56Km (35 miles) away from La Guaira dock and you will need to make the 56 back, so make sure you have at least 120Km (70 miles) left on your tank from this point)
The Distance and times to the deck are:
- From Colón: 1h 30 min | 70Km ( 44 miles)
- From Panama City: 2 hours 10 min | 118Km (73 miles)
How To Get there.
As we mentioned at the beginning of the post the island can only be accessed by boat. In order to take the boat there are a couple of docks, but the closest one is called La Guaira.
In there, someone will approach you and offer you to sail to Isla Grande (and will drop you off almost in front of your hotel, if not there) The ride from La Guaira has a fixed price of $3/person/way.
There is also a person “who works there” that will ask you for parking. He charges $5/day (not 24 hours), so if you stay for the night in Isla Grande it will be $10. We highly recommend paying the fee if you want to keep your car unbroken.
Good To Know.
- We’ve heard complaints about some hotels not having water during parts of the day. We stayed at Paradise Island Beach Hotel and we had no problem with the water, although we were not sure if water from the tap was drinkable we recommend getting bottled water from the mainland as there are not many stores on the island and the few you’ll find are pricy
- Restaurants close early but the few hotels that there are on the island have restaurants so ask upon arrival.
- There are only 2 paths on the island and they are not connected, because there is jungle in between both. On the Side of “Path 2” (see image for reference) there are only a few hotels,(which are more exclusive) and we believe that the boat rides there are more expensive. From this side of the island, there is no trail to walk up to the Lighthouse.
When we went to Isla Grande we didn’t expect much of it as when didn’t realize we would be sleeping there until the same day.
It wasn’t until we asked the hotel host for recommendations that he told us about Gustave Eiffel’s lighthouse. In the beginning, we were skeptic and didn’t believe that this lighthouse that we had never heard of had been designed by the same guy that designed the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris. And we are still a bit skeptical as the Lighthouse isn’t listed on Gustave Eiffel Wikepedia’s main works. But it is true that he designed part of The Panama Canal and that there are articles from the Panamanian press stating that the lighthouse was, designed by Eiffel, Built by the French, and that it is the oldest lighthouse in Latin America. Article here.
The trail can only be accessed from the closest part of the island to mainland (Path 1), there is no access walking from the other side of the island. The Lighthouse was recently renovated and it is possible to climb to the top and see the entire island.
In order to get to the lighthouse all you need to do is follow the only path there is. All the trail is padded, but it can be slippery so we highly recommend wearing hiking/sports shoes. The way to the top from our hotel (Paradise Island Beach) was 1 km and about half Km from the start of the hill.
Thank you for reading! If you are in Panama Make sure to hit all the must-sees by reading or main Panama article here.