Bocas del Toro: Not My Cup Of Tea, Maybe Yours?

Laid-back Caribbean lifestyle, white sand beaches, banana plantations, lush rainforests, coral reefs, turquoise seas, exotic marine life, and mangrove coves. Very informal and popular with surfers and backpackers. Some love it, others not so much, therefore, it is important to be clear this is not a destination for everyone. It is a popular “touristic” spot for young travelers who want to go to the beach and party at night. If this is not what you have in mind, there are ways around it. The natural beauty and Caribbean vibe are worth a visit, but careful selection of where to stay and what to do will play an important role to make sure you have a good time.

What to See & Do

Go on a Boat Tour. The two favorite boat tours in Bocas are, first, the one going to Dolphin bay, Coral Cay, Red Frog Beach, and sometimes Cayo Zapatillas, and the other, the one bordering Isla Colon stopping at Starfish Beach, Boca del Drago, and if the sea is not too rough, Swan’s Cay.

Eat Chocolate. Bocas del Toro is home to organic cacao farms, how cool is that? You can get the magic elixir in town, just ask around. It’s also possible to tour the farms, although because of the location most people choose to stay on the island and do water-related activities.

Scuba Diving. Several dive centers offer PADI courses and exciting trips from beginner to professional.

Surfing. Probably the place with the most consistent waves in Panama, except for the months when the Caribbean is flat. A certain level of experience is required for most of the preferred locations.

Go to the Beach. You are on an island so it is easy to go to the beach, however, depending on where you are staying, you might need to take a taxi, water taxi, or bus.


Main Island (Isla Colon). Lots of hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and the domestic airport. The town is full of activity and therefore, not too quiet. However, you can stay on the main island but away from town and get a different experience. For example, on the other end of the island, Boca del Drago.

Bastimentos. A smaller town with no cars, as well as feeling less developed. A bit on the adventurous side, with some nice beaches within a short hike.

Remote locations. There are several places to stay with a remote feel to them. If this is what you want, you will not have trouble finding one among the many options to choose from.