Bocas del Toro, Panama Vacation Guide
The archipelago of Bocas del Toro in Panama is situated on the northwestern coast of Panama in and around the Lagoon of Chiriqui. Bocas del Toro offers the perfect combination of Caribbean charm, nature and history with cultural traditions. Due to its variety of aquatic species, coral reefs, mangroves, tropical forest, beaches with crystal clear water and undisturbed jungles the main attractions are snorkeling, diving, hiking and bird watching. The main town is called Bocas del Toro or "Bocas Town" and is located on Colon Island, the largest island of the archipelago. In Bocas Town you will find colorful wooden houses and some historic relics (like a canon, an anchor and an old fire truck). At night you can eat out on one of the many restaurants serving international or local food and dance to Reggea; during the day you can tour one of the nearby islands, go watch the dolphins play in Dolphin Bay, go swimming and sunbathing in one of the beautiful beaches of the surrounding islands (Red Frog and Zapatillas are two good options). Or take a river boat into the jungle to an authentic Ngobe Bugle Indian village, go snorkeling or scuba dive. Traveling to Bocas, as the locals call it, can either be as simple as taking a 40 minutes flight from Panama City or as adventurous as going over land by bus and water taxi. The Bocas del Toro airport is just a few minutes out of town. If you plan to arrive via land you can catch a boat either in Changuinola or in Almirante. The boat from Changuinola is more scenic, but also takes 30 minutes longer. Either way Bocas del Toro is a destination unlike any to be found elsewhere in Panama.
Several of the pristine islands of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago in the Caribbean Sea are protected by the Bastimentos Marine National Park. The park offers great diving, snorkeling and swimming, and its beaches are used as a nesting ground by several species of sea turtle. To get an idea of the area and Isla Colon please consult our Bocas del Toro map at the end of this page. The main town on the archipelago is Bocas del Toro on the southeastern tip of Isla Colon. The archipelago is off the northeast coast of Panama and is also accessible by ferry from Almirante and Chiriqui Grande. For travelers which would like surfing in Bocas del Toro there are several beaches you might consider. The easiest beaches to get to are on Isla Colon and are called Bluff Beach and the Dump. Bluff Beach is a long beach with strong waves, the Dump is the favorite of local surfers but dangerous because the waves break close to a coral reef. Both beaches are reachable by car from Bocas in less than 20 minutes. Other surfing spots are available on Isla Bastimentos (access by boat from Bocas) and on Isla Carnero.
Over the last years several new hotels opened in Bocas del Toro. Just outside the small town travelers will find our favorite Bocas del Toro Hotel: The Playa Tortuga Hotel Beach and Resort - this deluxe hotel is designed for families and other leisure travelers alike, with excellent service and informal atmosphere. The Playa Tortuga Hotel is right in front of the beach, with pinkish sand and clear calm Caribbean waters. Situated just off Colon Island and only reachable by boat, one can find a unique eco-lodge experience at Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge which offers calm luxury and is sheltered by the surrounding archipelago.
Location and Map