Bocas del Toro - Panama: information and advice

Who I am
Valery Aloyants
@valeryaloyants
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Bocas del Toro is a splendid archipelago of 9 islands and more than 200 islets, located on the Caribbean coast of Panama, a few kilometers from Costa Rica.

The three main islands are: Isla Colon, Isla Bastimentos ed Isla Carenero.

Isla Colon is the most developed of the archipelago, it hosts an airport and this is where you will disembark if you come from the mainland by taxi boat.

Bastimentos is wilder and less developed, covered mostly by forest and mangroves. The only village on the island is Old Bank, where a small predominantly Afro-Caribbean community lives, which speaks Guari-Guari a mix of English and Spanish.



Bastimentos Island, with its lush forest, offers eco-resorts where you can enjoy magnificent experiences.

Isla Carenero it is located in front of Isla Colon, a few minutes away by boat, it is quite small and can be driven around in about 1 hour.

Around Bocas Town

Bocas del Toro has been open to tourism for a few years and the information we find on the web is few and not always correct and truthful.

Let's try to better understand this corner of paradise, let's see what are the main activities and on which island it is better to stay.

Some Tips on Bocas del Toro

  • Language: The official language is Spanish.
  • Currency: The US dollar ($)
  • Banks: There is only one bank in Isla Colón.
  • Climate: Tropical, with constantly warm temperatures and rains throughout the year.

Where to stay in Bocas Del Toro

In my experience a good choice is that of stay in Isla Colon, in Bocas Town, from where excursions depart every day to see the beauties offered by the archipelago.



Bocas Town is alive in the evenings and there are plenty of choices for dining at great restaurants, most of them with seaside palaces and pleasant views, ideal for a romantic evening. Even for after dinner, the choice of places for a drink is not lacking.

During the day you can go on excursions that leave every morning, or you can visit the beaches of the island.

Excursions cost approx 25 or 30 $ per person depending on the type of tours. The most popular destinations are: Cayo Zapatilla, the Bay of Dolphins, the Isle of Sloths and Red Frog Beach.

The best beach on Isla Colon is Bocas del Drago, or meglio Playa Estrella. The Bocas del Drago beach is practically not there, it is only the point of arrival to then go to Playa Estrella.

To reach Bocas del Drago the cheapest way is with the minibus that depart from the central park every hour and take about 30 minutes at a cost of $ 5 per person.

To go to Playa Estrella, from Bocas del Drago, take a taxi boat ($ 1,5 per person), or walk about 20 minutes between the beach and a lush path.

Estrella is a white sand beach with crystal clear water and calm sea populated by giant and colorful starfish.

Important: you cannot touch the starfish and it is clearly written all over the place, unfortunately there are still those who insist on touching or moving them, “they probably haven't read the signs”.


Where to Stay in Isla Colon

In Isla Colon we stayed 4 nights, 2 at the Los Delfinos hotel and 2 at the KoKo Resort.


Hotel Los Delfinos

The Los Delfinos hotel is the low budget choice for I will sleep in Bocas del Toro, simple and clean rooms, excellent location a few steps from the main street. There is also a restaurant, which makes pizza cooked in a wood oven, really good.

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Koko Resort

Koko resort is a 15-minute walk from the center of Bocas Town, in the Saigon Bay.

It consists of 6 2-storey beach houses built in the middle of a village, inhabited by locals.

Il Koko Resort it is one of a kind, I recommend it to those who love adventure and are looking for true emotions. Not recommended for anyone looking for an all-inclusive resort on a white sand beach !!

The breakfast is magically cooked by Jack, unforgettable the sandwich with bread fried in butter, eggs, cheddar cheese and bacon, the real breakfast of champions !!

Jack and Lee, the owners, provide the guests with canoes to go around the bay, and organize tours of the islands.

The only downside is the presence of garbage around, but the area is developing and I hope they will solve this problem soon.

Near the Koko resort there is also a supermarket, TonyMarket, I recommend a nice bottle of Chilean white to sip on the veranda of your home, the TOP !!


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Koko Resort

Other accommodations that I recommend in Bocas Town are:

Hotel Bocas del Toro: located in the center of Bocas Town, rooms spotless and with a splendid view of the sea. Certainly one of the best hotels on the island.
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The Palmyra: With a rating of 9.6 on Booking, this hotel is among the best choices to stay in Isla Colon, surrounded by a beautiful garden, offers free bicycles 24/24.  View Offer on Booking

Where to eat in Bocas Town

For the evening I recommend dining at Raw Fusion, waterfront restaurant with stilt house offering delicious sushi, great pad thai, and perfectly cooked squid. Highly recommended!

Another place that I suggest for dinner is the Restaurant Maracuya, always with stilts on the sea, excellent and with very kind staff.

For lunch we discovered a vegetarian restaurant, the Leaf Eaters Cafe, exceptional, very tasty dishes, very kind owners and splendid view of Carenero island.

Where to sleep in Isla Bastimentos

An alternative to isla Colon is staying in Bastimentos in an eco lodge in full contact with nature and near the sea with crystal clear waters. Bastimentos is the option for those who love peace and quiet. However, always keep in mind the unknown weather and take into account the possibility of long rains.

Here is a series of Eco Resorts where to sleep in Bastimentos Island:

 Al Natural Resort

Old Point, Isla Bastimentos, Panama/Panamá

Azul Paradise

Coconut Coast, Isla Bastimentos, Panama/Panamá

Red Frog Beach Island Resort & Spa

Bocas del Toro, Isla Bastimentos, Panama / Panama

Eclypse de Mar

Isla Bastimentos, Isla Bastimentos, Panama / Panama

Palmar Tent Lodge

Red Frog Beach on Isla Bastimentos | Bocas Del Toro

We have chosen the Palmar Tent Lodge, is located on the most famous beach of Bastimentos, the beautiful one Red Frog Beach, it is an eco lodge powered only by solar energy and rainwater.

The houses are real safari-style tents, with beds, a lamp, a fan and a mosquito net.

The Palmar restaurant is very good, even if the choice is a bit limited, the quesdillas with chicken and vegetables are excellent.

We liked the place, but two days were enough. I must say a little expensive for a campsite.

I recommend it to those looking for something special, to those who like camping and especially to younger people who will have the opportunity to socialize with the many volunteers who work at Palmar in exchange for room and board.

The strong point is definitely the location, being able to stay at Red Frog Beach is a luxury, as it is one of the most visited beaches in Bocas del Toro.

What I would improve is the relationship with the customer, the staff is certainly available for any request, but it seems more focused on the restaurant's clientele than on those who sleep in the Palmar.

View Palmar Tent Lodge on Booking

 

Palmar Tent Lodge – Isla Bastimentos

Red Frog Beach – Isla Bastimentos

Red Frog Beach – Isla Bastimentos

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