Surfing, ecological trails, Panamanian and international haute cuisine, night activities, marine adventures and much more.
In the Panamanian Caribbean is located one of the best destinations you can explore for ecotourism: this is Bocas del Toro Province.
In times when tourism must be done outdoors and in small groups of people, this paradise has places that have been carried out with this trend for a long time, to preserve the quality and safety in the experience for tourists.
How to get there?
From Panama City there are two options:
By plane: Air Panama covers the Panama City-Bocas del Toro route in one hour. There are daily flights departing from Marcos A. Gelabert International Airport in Albrook.
By bus: departs from the Albrook Bus Terminal in Panama City, taking 11 hours to reach the town of Almirante. From there you travel on a ferry to Isla Colon, the center of all touristic activity in the province.
Bocas del Toro Archipelago
The archipelago has some of the most extensive rainforests in Central America and has nine main islands, 52 keys, and thousands of islets. It is home to one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which in turn was the first marine park in Panama.
To go on vacation, you have the option of choosing between luxury resorts, eco-lodges on private islands to popular hostels for those who practice surfing. As entertainment, you can also choose between navigating the different islands to explore beaches, see the jungle from above on ziplines, dive in one of the most diverse ocean reefs in the region or even learn surfing. Whether you want to enjoy the seascape or go for an adventure, Bocas del Toro is a destination you have to visit.
Places to Visit
Los Monos Botanical Garden Farm:
Located at only a couple of kilometers from downtown Isla Colon. Here you can discover a 10 hectare secondary forest with hundreds of endemic and imported species, including ornamental plants that mix with wildlife. www.bocasdeltorobotanicalgarden.com
Green Acres Chocolate Farm:
Located on the south coast of Dolphin Bay, at only 10 kilometers from Isla Colon by boat. Here is cultivated 100% organic chocolate, it is one of the most important in the country. Here tourists will learn how chocolate is made, planted and produced in a sustainable way, while walking through a tropical garden on a tour that lasts 2 hours.
Zip-Line at Bastimentos:
Located within Isla Bastimento’s rainforest, this place offers visitors a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. The route consists of seven routes. The longest is about a thousand feet (300 m).
Bahia Honda (Deep Bay) and Bats Cave:
Located on the south side of Isla Bastimentos, this bay has an extensive cave that can be explored near the coast, and a small Ngöbe community that welcomes visitors.
Cueva de los Murcielagos is located at a short walk from the coast, in it you can see stalactites and hundreds of bats hanging on the top of the rocky enclosure. In some parts the water can be somewhat deep. The boat trip around the area is worth it, as red, black and white mangroves grow along the stream, and sloths and alligators can be spotted.
Red Frog Beach:
It is located north of Isla Bastimentos. With good surfing areas due to a break in the waves, but also a good part of it has an area where very few people go, and you can simply relax. Here are the famous red frogs, but you must don’t get too close since it is a poisonous species.
Boca Del Drago:
On the other side of Isla Colon, at about 30 kilometers. You can get there by taking the bus, which can take around 1 hour and 15 minutes. The beach itself is narrow, but it has crystal-clear waters and it has large starfishes to watch on the shore.
This beach is only half an hour from the town of Isla Colon, it is a bit difficult to walk on foot, but when you arrive it will be worth it to discover a small private paradise of golden sand.
Cayo Zapatilla (Slippers Cays):
Located in the middle of a protected marine park, it is one of the longest stretches to reach by boat and is perhaps the busiest beach. Once there, it is easy to understand why: The perfect white sand and the transparency of the water provide the best snorkeling in the area. Sometimes it is even possible to see sea turtles up close.
Gastronomy at Isla Colon
This island has a true gastronomic wealth for such a small area. There are many places with typical food based on fried fish, bananas, stewed chicken and coconut rice. There are also restaurants serving food from all over the world. Vegetarian, vegan and wraps food options are found in a school bus converted into a restaurant. Some stores are facing the street and others are on the water.
In Bocas del Toro “Happy Hours” start at 5 pm. Most of the bars play “reggae”, but they alternate with all kinds of music. “El Barco Hundido” (sunken ship) is the most famous club and there you can dance salsa, merengue and soca.
Other places are Bar La Iguana, Aqua Lounge, a bar-hostel on the water with swings and trampolines to jump into the sea; Bocas Wine Bar on 3rd Street and the Book Store Bar on Avenida E, with a relaxed evening with rock music of all decades.
You should also visit El Toro Loco and Rip Tide. One has a sportier environment and the second one has an old fishing boat inside with beautiful views of Isla Colon and Carenero Islands.
Things to Do
• Go horse-riding at San Cristobal Island, where you can go up the mountain and enjoy amazing views. www.panamahorseback.com
• Take diving, fishing trips, surf lessons, kayac and paddle board rides. There are fun aquatic options at La Buga Dive & Surf, a PADI 5 Star Dive Center.
• Learn more about how cocoa is grown, harvested and produced to make artisanal chocolate on the Chocolate Oreba tour. This tour is managed by indigenous Ngäbe farmers. For more information, call (507) 6649-1457 (Spanish) or (507) 6411-5670 (English).
• Visit the Botanical Garden at Finca Los Monos located 10 minutes from Isla Colon where the Smithsonian Institute is located. You can watch dozens of species of edible bananas, plants and trees with their data sheet, wild specimens such as birds, howler monkeys and much more. www.ltorobotanicalgarden.com
• Relax while painting, cooking and enjoying the scenery with other visitors. Random Art Bocas offer vacation packages with painting classes and local cuisine. www.bocasdeltoro.travel/es/random-art-bocas/