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  • Katrina Julia

Top 10 Bocas del Toro, Panama Things to Do

Travel to Bocas del Toro is a dream come true in every way. The lush landscapes, clear blue waters, and wildlife at every turn, thrilled and surprised me. I am very grateful to have experienced a press trip in Bocas del Toro on a private island, Bocas Town, and Caranero Island during my travel to 7 Continents,


While my press trip ended early my decisions due to problems in paradise I experienced on the island, I wouldn't change it for the world. During my month in Panama, I explored Starfish, Red Frog, and Caranero Island Beaches nearby.


It is time to put Bocas del Toro on your bucket list.

Bocas del Toro is far more than its beaches, culture, rainforests, and wildlife. If you didn't know, Bocas del Toro means "Mouths of the Bull". It is a province in Panama with an area of about 4600 kilometers including the mainland and 9 islands. The province includes the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Bahía Almirante (Almirante Bay), Laguna de Chiriquí (Chiriquí Lagoon), and mainland.



Bocas del Toro Things to Do
Bocas del Toro Things to Do


Bocas del Toro History

Bocas del Toro was originally discovered by Christopher Colombus in 1502, similar to my prior travel destinations like Colombia. The largest and more important island in the group is Colon Island founded in 1826 which is the Southern point of the city of Bocas del Toro.


Indicators of prosperity in the islands include five consulates, three newspapers, a bottling company, and the biggest producer of bananas. The bananas you know and love, Chiquita Brands, were established in Bocas del Toro amidst fierce competition within the banana industry. As I traveled via boat leaving Bocas del Toro towards Costa Rica, I saw their plant.


All around Bocas, you see efforts being made to preserve the charm of its wide streets and wooden houses, vivid memories of the British architectural influence on the islands.


Bocas del Toro Sunsets

No matter whether you experience private islands like Loma Partida, wander through Bocas Town (Colon Island), swim on the beaches of Starfish and Red Frog Beach, or explore Caranero Island, Bocas del Toro will fill you with paradise from the inside out.


Although it is a photographer's and Instagrammer's dream with its lush landscapes, breathtaking beaches, and colorful colonial homes, when you wander a few streets from the tourist areas, you will experience real Panamanians that live here year-round. While professionals, entrepreneurs, and the tourist industry earn more, the average Panamanian makes USD 800 per month.


Starfish Beach


Whether you will spend one day in Bocas del Toro, or a month like I did, you will love it.

It's not easy to narrow down Bocas del Toro to a Top 10 Things to Do, but here goes!



Credit Sol Bungalows
Bocas del Toro Map


Bocas del Toro, Panama Top 10 Things to Do

  • Take Boat Rides around the Islands

  • Enjoy the Sunrises and Sunsets

  • Walk around Bocas Town

  • See the Starfish at Starfish Beach

  • Do a Day Trip to Red Frog Beach

  • Visit a Private Island

  • Swim and Snorkel Everywhere

  • Cowork at Selina Bocas del Toros

  • Stay on Caranero Island

  • Enjoy foodie favorites like fresh juices, coconuts, and tacos


Bocas del Toro Isla Colon

Bocas del Toro, Panama

.Bocas del Toro is a popular spot for digital nomads, lifestyle entrepreneurs, surfers and scuba divers. The most popular island for tourism is Isla Colon aka Bocas Town. Life in Bocas Town is easily walkable town with a slow and relaxed pace in the midst of hotels, Caribbean Colonial homes, tour operators, and restaurants.

Language

Spanish. English is spoken everywhere as well.


Climate

Bocas del Toro features a tropical rainforest climate with warm temperatures year-round.

October, January, and March are typically the driest.


Currency

American Dollar (USD)


Banks

There is a national bank about a block away from the main strip in Bocas Town, and two other ATMs in town. While many hotels and restaurants accept cards, some only accept cash so always ask.


Highlights

  • Discovered in 1502 by Christopher Columbus

  • 20 years ago, this was a lost Caribbean Paradise

  • Located on Southern Tip of Isla Colon

  • Most popular Panama destination for tourists

  • May fly into Isla Colon aka Bocas Town

  • Highly Walkable city all around Bocas Town

  • Home to Chiquita Banana Brand

  • Boats to nearby islands are as inexpensive as $1 USD (2022)

  • Bocas del Toro means Mouth of the Bulls

  • Gained independence in 1903

  • Panamanian average salaries are $800 USD

  • Average rent in Bocas is $400 - $1,000 USD for 2 bedrooms



Starfish Beach

Shot by Julius Fourie, edited by me.


All shots are my own on Canon EOSM100, Sony A330, and/or my iPhone 13 or via Airbnb.


Travel to Bocas del Toro, Panama

Travel to Bocas del Toro may be an adventure. Depending on where you are traveling from you may be able to travel directly to Isla Colon via Air Panama. When I traveled to Bocas, I took a flight from Cartagena, Colombia to Panama City. From Panama City, I took a second flight to fly to Isla Colon with Air Panama.


If you are traveling from the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, you may want to take the Caribe Shuttle for about USD 40 which includes the shuttle to the border, guidance with customs, shuttle to the boat, and a boat ride to/from Bocas. I took Caribe Shuttle when I left Bocas to go to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. I loved it! You may book Caribe shuttle online and in town near the boat docks.





Where I Stayed in Panama

Airbnb in Panama City

When I arrived in Panama City, I stayed at an adorable Airbnb for one night about 20 minutes from the airport. From the moment I booked, Cami and her husband took incredible care of me going above and beyond.