This archipelago of islands on Panamas northern coast is utterly Caribbean. It’s also a favourite among travelers. I’ve heard of quite a few people who ended up cancelling their plans and calling Bocas Del Toro their home for a few months, embracing the surf, the reggae music and the chilled out island life.
Everything You Need To Know About Bocas Del Toro
There are two main islands that tourists tend to visit. Isla Colon is the main island and where you will find their capital ‘Bocas Town.’ Don’t let the word capital fool you though, the island is still small and not over-developed by any means. Being the main island it is easy to get water-taxis to neighbouring islands to spend the day at the beach or go snorkelling.
We stayed at Selina Hostel during our time on Isla Colon and we loved it. Not only was there an awesome bar and restaurant directly on the water (literally, you could jump off the decks of the bar straight into the water) with $2 cocktail hour but the dorm beds were insanely cool, personal cubby houses with individual chargers and fans inside. Amazing! The staff at the front desk were irritatingly slow upon check-in but the free breakfast was pretty impressive. I definitely enjoyed my stay and would have liked to stay longer.
The second island most people tend to visit, whether for the day or a few nights, is Red Frog Beach Island. This island is where you’ll get the best surf beaches in Bocas. Red Frog Beach itself is beautiful to boot too. If you are lucky you’ll see the famous Red Frogs, Monkeys and Sloths that roam the area. Be sure to make your way to Nachyo Mamas for some delicious Fish Tacos on the beach (weirdly she doesn’t actually sell Nachos…)!
We stayed at Bocas Island Lodge, the only hostel on the island. Whilst it was conveniently located we didn’t love our time here. The beds were a bit damp, the bathrooms weren’t the cleanest and the gas ran out in the kitchen meaning we had to spend quite a lot of money eating out instead. But, we enjoyed our time on Red Frog Island so it was worth it. That’s the joys of traveling, hey?
In order to arrive in Panama you have to have evidence of your transport out of the country. This is very difficult when you are a backpacker, you don’t always know how long you will be in a country or how you will leave it. When this dilemma struck at the airport we quickly found a shuttle bus that transfers from Bocas Del Toro, Panama to Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica. This company, Caribe Shuttle, was amazing. We emailed them twice, once to ask if we could change our departure date and once to change the name of our destination hostel and both times they were super accommodating and quick to respond. They also made the border crossing a breeze. If you find yourself in the same dilemma I highly recommend booking with them, they are so flexible and easy to use.
We loved our time in Bocas Del Toro, Andy especially loved being in proper waves again.
Have you been to Bocas? What are your favourite tips?