Islands, Beaches, Dolphins and Delicious Gastronomy Surrounded by Wild Beauty

It is one of the most attractive tourist spots in the country for those who travel in search of the most paradisiacal beaches in the world. Located on the north coast of the Panamanian Caribbean, Bocas del Toro enchants with its lonely, almost virgin landscapes of exuberant wild beauty.

The province of Bocas del Toro is located 11 hours from Panama City, extending from the mainland to the archipelago. It has nine main islands, 52 keys and thousands of islets. It owns some of the largest rainforests in Central America.

It is known as “The Galapago of the Caribbean” because many turtles come to its shores, and for being one of the most biologically diverse destinations on the planet.

Bastimentos Island National Park

It is the first marine reserve in the country (1988) and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is within the Isla Bastimentos territory, the second largest in the Archipelago. There is Cayos Zapatillas with extensive coral reefs and underground caves. There is also Playa Larga, where more than four species of sea turtles come to nest between April and October.


Tourists can visit places like Long Beach, Playa Punch (famous for its Wave Punch) and the Quebrada de Sal (Salt Creek) indigenous community. One of the activities that most tourists enjoy is surfing at Wizard Beach, Silverbacks and Red Frog. You can also enjoy snorkeling and diving in “Coral Key” and Punta Hospital, where some of the best preserved reefs in the world are found.

Where to stay:

In Bastimentos there are several options to stay in ecolodges such as Tranquilo Bay, Cedar Green, among others. All with excellent service and amenities.

Where to eat:

On this island you can enjoy delicious dishes in restaurants where the main gastronomy is fish and shellfish. They also offer extensive international menus and Panamanian food.

How to get?

From Panama City there are two options to get to Bocas del Toro. The fastest is by plane, which takes one hour. You can also travel by bus from Capital City starting at Albrook bus terminal taking the Almirante route, where you take a ferry to Isla Colon.

San San Pond Sak

This wetland of great international relevance (since 1994) is located in the Changuinola district. It is close to the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, in Costa Rica. On this site there are six types of vegetation such as tropical swamp forest, tropical swamp forest dominated by palms, mangrove forest, scrub by palms, scrub by swamp and alluvial tropical forest. It also has about 265 species of plants and endangered species such as manatees and sea turtles.


In this natural reserve the main activity is bird watching where it is possible to find birds of prey and shorebirds. You can also see a lot of fauna such as the mantled howler monkey, crab-eating raccoon or white-nosed coati. It is also possible to enjoy in the surroundings of river otters, Antillean mandate and the lular dolphin, among many other species.

Where to stay:

In this sanctuary there are no places to spend the night, only tours offered by tourism companies are taken. However, in the surroundings there is a large offer of places to stay in all price ranges and comforts.

Where to eat:

It is only possible to take snacks or drinks on the boat tours through this natural reserve, since it does not have restaurants.

How to get:

From Isla Colon you can get boat tours to observe the fauna of this impressive destination.

Gastronomy in Isla Colon

Bocatoreño gastronomy is influenced by Caribbean and Afro-Caribbean food with some Hispanic cuisine mixing, giving as a result sweet and salty flavors.

One of the most popular ingredients is rice, prepared in different ways and textures thanks to its preparation such as corn, plantain, shellfish and coconut oil.

Fish and shellfish are a delicacy of the region such as cod with “akke”, fried fish a la macho, “Bragadad” cod “torrejas”, fish broth such as “El rondón”, which has a fish head (sierra or urel), coconut milk and vegetables, or the very similar “Fufu” broth, but with root vegetables.

The ripe or green plantain in preparations such as “Muogo”, a green plantain cream with coconut milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla. Similarly, the “Michila”, a ripe plantain cream with coconut milk.

Among the most requested desserts is the “Plantin Tat”, an empanada with sweet ripe banana. Also, the “Bon” a sweet bread, the pineapple pie with raisins and the “Yanny Cake” a coconut bread that accompanies the meal. Among the puddings there are: banana, cassava and pumpkin.

The most popular drinks are: Saríl, Ron Don and Icin Glass or “Cristal Helado” drink with seaweed, cloves, cinnamon, evaporated milk and Irish moss.

Since 2022, the Wine & Food Festival has been held at the La Coralina hotel, where you can taste this delicious cuisine, accompanied by wines for a Caribbean pairing.

Dolphin Bay

This bay is located on the eastern side of Cristobal Island, 10 kilometers from Isla Colon, about 20 minutes by boat. Its name comes from the fact that bottlenose dolphins swim almost all year round, especially females with their young. It is not known since when they arrived, but these mammals have chosen this lagoon as their home. For this reason, it is a very popular destination, especially between June and July. Dolphins are usually observed in pairs or in a herd.


The only activity to carry out is to go on a boat tour early in the morning to watch these beautiful dolphins, always keeping the proper security measures to safeguard marine life. Usually, the boats pick up the tourist at the hotel if it has its own pier. An unforgettable experience that every visitor can make.

Solarte Island

Located south of Isla Bastimentos, Isla Solarte known for centuries as Nancy’s Cay (colonial times), is one mile east of Bocas del Toro. The extreme west of Isla is called Punta Hospital, due to its history as the site where the main hospital complex of the region was located until 1920, built by the United Fruit Company (American banana company), for the treatment of patients with yellow fever and malaria (1899).


Isla Solarte is one of the most visited places for snorkeling and diving in Bocas del Toro. The Punta Hospital boardwalk has a rich marine life with lettuce coral and turtle grass that give way to a wall that drops from 12 to 15 meters. You can see invasive lion fish, moray eels, trumpet fish among others.

Where to stay:

This site has a variety of Eco lodges, bungalows and hotels with all the facilities and amenities that allow access to the natural environment always.

Where to eat:

Here there are several options in the hotels, as well as restaurants on the sea that offer an unforgettable experience. Like most restaurants in Bocas del Toro, the menu specializes in fish and shellfish. However, you can also enjoy Panamanian and international foods.

How to get:

This island is very close to Isla Colon and Bastimentos, so it is easy to contact a transportation service that travels by boat.


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