Best things to do in Bocas del Toro, Panama
Bocas del Toro is an archipelago that lies between the border of Panama and Costa Rica.
And it is without a doubt, one of the most visited places in Panama, along with the islands of San Blas, an indigenous territory of Guna Yala.
The truth is that getting to Bocas del Toro can be a long trip at a good price, or short and very expensive.
But if you want to know more about the different options to get to Bocas del Toro, we tell you in this article, How to get to Bocas del Toro, by plane or by night bus.
Well, as I said before, Bocas del Toro is an archipelago with a large number of islands, so even though you can visit several, you will have to decide which one you will stay.
Depending on what you are looking for, party, atmosphere or tranquility and nature, you can choose the Colon Island, which offers you the first thing.
Or a quieter adventure with nature in the background on Bastimentos Island.
That doesn’t stop you from moving around using the local means of transport, the boats.
What to see and do in Bocas del Toro
The plans are many and varied, but being in a place like this, we chose to see lots of nature, wild beaches, dream islands, incredible marine life, get closer to local life, and relive the times of the cocoa plantations.
Ciudad Bocas del Toro is the main city/town of this archipelago.
That is, this is where the planes arrive from Panama City, if you decide to use this transport, or the boats, from the nearby town of Almirante.
So, life in Bocas del Toro City is much more lively.
This town, which is divided by a street where you can find most of the supermarkets, bars, cafeterias and lodgings, usually has a lot of atmosphere.
And if you go to a quieter island, it’s always a good place to do some shopping, if necessary.
In Bocas del Toro City, you can also find colonial architecture, and besides, very colorful.
Although this town doesn’t have much to do with it, it does feature the Governor’s House and Simón Bolívar Park.
Estrella de Mar Beach
This beach is famous for the starfish you can see on its shore, but unfortunately, they are less and less.
This is mainly because many visitors take them in their hands, touch them, and pull them out of the water.
As a result, their death is almost certain.
Even though the beach is full of posters warning in different languages about “Do not touch or take out of the water the starfish”, you will see how there are always people who want to take a picture with them.
On this beach, with a little luck, you will see lazy bears, you just have to be attentive and look at the top of the trees.
If you go during the months of April to August, you will not be able to see the turtle nesting spectacle, since to avoid putting them at risk, this beach is closed to tourists.
So if you want to know more about Colon Island, you can take a look at this more detailed article about the place, Colon Island, the center of Bocas del Toro in Panama.
This was the island where we decided to stay and spend most of our time in Bocas del Toro.
It is very quiet and pleasant, and nature floods everything.
Besides, this is not only one island, but it is composed by many.
So much so, that since 1988 is the Bastimentos National Park, which includes more than 180 islands around.
How to go to Bocas del Toro
Its coral richness and marine life in general is so rich here that it has been protected with the creation of this park.
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I don’t think you’d ever forgive yourself for coming all the way to Bocas del Toro and not visiting Zapatilla Key.
They are two spectacular islands, even better than the ones that come in the postcards of paradise.
We were on one of them snorkeling and walking.
They really are spectacular places.
But the best part wasn’t just that.
Before arriving at Zapatilla Key, we watched swimming and playing dolphins and snorkeling on one of the most incredible corals I have ever seen.
It was part of the excursion.
We hired the tour through the accommodation where we were in Bastimentos, as it is the only way you can get there.
But we were only the four people who were there, no excursions with many people.
We also wrote an article about this place, Cayo Zapatilla, a paradise in Bocas del Toro.
Old Bank is the town of Bastimentos, and the good thing about it is that its atmosphere is 100% local.
You’ll hardly see, if you see, tourists.
It’s a very good place to go for lunch or dinner, and take a walk.
The people are very friendly, and it is quite likely that they will ask you where you are from, etc.
It is also true, however, that the population is of Antillean and Jamaican origin, so perhaps their language, a mixture of English, French and Spanish, is not so easy to understand.
This town is also divided by a street, really nice to walk.
Their houses are colorful, and they also have a colonial touch.
This is one of the places where you realize that yes, you are in Panama.
About 20 minutes walk along a lush road, and across the island, you come to Wizard Beach.
It’s wild, and you’re probably lonely there, too.
You have to look at the trees before you get to the beach, sloths live very quietly and comfortably in this area.
They live in total freedom.
This beach is very beautiful and quiet, it’s like a kind of spiritual retreat.
To get there, there is a sign in the village of Old Bank that indicates the way you have to take.
And then you’ll go into a little muddy road, if it’s rained.
Red Frog Beach
This beach is famous because nearby, not on it, are the famous poisonous frogs, small, tiny, but bullying.
Don’t touch them, because their poison is in their skin.
In fact, this poison was used by Indians to impregnate the tips of their spears to kill their enemies, or so they say.
You can see the frogs on the way to the beach.
But be careful where you step, lest you step on one of them.
When you get to the beach, you’ll also see that it’s a bit of a wild beach, but at the end of it, in its most extreme part, there’s a small resort, which takes the charm out of it.
But in return, you can drink a beer watching the sunset.
To get to this beach, you have to go to the right end of Wizard Beach and follow a path that is not very well indicated.
We arrived, although we had to go part of the way, walking on the rocks by the sea.
Accommodation in Bastimentos
When we decided to stay on this quiet island, we also looked for a quiet and spacious accommodation.
We found the Ataraxia Guest House, an accommodation now run by a Belgian couple eager to regain the place that was.
The house is an old cocoa plantation, and colonial style, with huge terraces, where you can see the sunset and sunrise.
You can also enjoy the spectacle of the hummingbirds fluttering around while you have breakfast.
They are also recovering all the land they have to become self-sufficient, as far as possible, in both food and energy.
A good way to take care of the island.
We loved the place, and the couple gave us a hand with any questions we had, as well as giving us very useful information about the island.
We certainly recommend it.
If you want to see more pictures of the place, prices and availability, you can take a look at the following link, Ataraxia Guest House.
Or if you prefer to see other options on the island, you can see this link, Accommodation in Bastimentos Island.