Located just 32km from the Costa Rican border, the island chain of Bocas del Toro consists of six heavily forested islands, numerous uninhabited islets and the Bastimentos National Marine Park.
Bocas del Toro, known simply as Bocas is Panama´s primary tourist destination, drawing long term travelers from all over the world keen to sample its rugged beauty and laid-back way of life.
Its sympathetic development and absence of resort hotels ensure that despite its popularity Bocas has not become a victim of its own success. The villages, set against the backdrop of some of the continent´s most stunning scenery, have retained their Caribbean charm with even the most developed of the islands, Isla Colón, boasting strong local flavor and a deliciously slow way of life.
This is the place to come if you want to leave the real world behind and immerse yourself in the simpler things in life.
Things to see and do in Bocas del Toro
Bocas town is located on Isla Colón and is the capital of Bocas del Toro Province. Like its five neighbouring islands, it is covered in dense jungle of vines and forest palms dropping away to mangrove glades and pristine white-sand beaches, lapped by the cobalt-blue waters of the Caribbean.
One of the main draws of Bocas is its scuba diving. Come here to discover the countless species of tropical fish that inhabit the extensive coral reef. There are several scuba clubs in town with little to choose between them. Equipment, prices and tours are all identical. Dives here tend to be relatively shallow – around 15 – 20 meters and are considered largely recreational, providing little to seriously challenge a very experienced diver. But as a place to find your dive legs or simply relax and wallow in the wonder of your surroundings it is hard to beat.
When you think of Bocas, think wild. A busy day might involve hiking a distance through the rainforest to access an empty stretch of virgin shoreline, a snooze in the shade of a swaying palm, a quick dip to cool down and hiking back home again to a cool beer. For a real rainforest experience, head away from Bocas town to the Panamanian section of the Parque Internacional La Amistad on the mainland for a spot of jaguar-spotting and a peek at one of the Ngöbe-Buglé settlements that have yet to leave behind their traditional lifestyle.
Bocas town is small enough to navigate on foot. If you do need some wheels for a quicker journey, bicycles and scooters are available to rent, though scooters are not cheap and there are plenty of taxis.
The town has several spots where you can dance the night away. Check out Barco Hundido, which stretches out over the water like a semi-shipwrecked boat and is an end of night congregating point for most of the town´s temporary and permanent inhabitants. Another island favorite are the weekly ladies’ nights at Aqua Lounge.
Accomodation & Internet in Bocas del Toro
Access to the town is by boat from Almirante or Changuinola depending on where you are travelling from and costs between $4 and $7.
There are hostels and hotels to match most budgets in Bocas and despite its growing popularity, staying here is still a relatively cost-effective proposition. Internet is available at the larger hotels, enabling you to keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues. However, the real charm of Bocas for Digital Nomads is the chance to enjoy the sublime natural beauty outdoors as opposed to your computer screen indoors so don´t plan on getting too much work done here.