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Posted by on Jan 16, 2014 in Central America, General, Latest Posts, Panama | 6 comments

Bocas de Toro is a must in Panama!


Bocas del Toro

Come with me!

Come with me guys i’ve got something amazing to show ya! And no it isn’t more shots of my ugly mug ๐Ÿ™‚


Heading to Panama? How about Costa Rica? Maybe you are doing a long trip through all of Central America. Whatever your plans, Bocas del Toro should be on your list! Just picture those palm tree covered islands and the sparkling blue waters you see on all those Caribbean cruise brochures and that is what you will find in Bocas.


Bocas del Toro

Paradise found at Starfish Beach


Located near the top of Panama not far from the Costa Rican border and obviously on the Caribbean side of the country (east), Bocas del Toro is the ideal island getaway. We took a bus from Panama City which took about 8 hours to the town of Amirante and from there a short taxi ride to a boat which will take you to the main island (Colรณn) in the Bocas del Toro district. There are probably also buses from Costa Rica in places like Puerto Viejo. I recommend trying to time whichever bus you take to arrive early in the morning so you can catch a boat and not get caught in Amirante. It is a dive with only one terrible and overpriced hotel. The boat to the island is about $5 US from memory and takes you right to the main part of town where there are many hostels to choose from.

For those of you carrying fat stacks and don’t want to slum it you can get to Bocas del Toro by plane as they have an international airport. There are probably some great hotels around too.


Bocas del Toro

Enjoy a drink at starfish beach


No matter what your budget one thing is certain, you are going to get hassled. Sadly paradise in most places should come with this disclaimer, but it isn’t something that should deter you. Just be forewarned that the people here want your money and will try to overcharge you for tours, bikes etc. Compared to other towns through Central America I did find this place to be one of the worst for it, however the views and beaches more than made up for it.


Bocas del Toro

Starfish beach


So now onto the good stuff! Once you get there and set down your bags you can hire a bicycle and cruise around town. The town is small and has one main street where all the good restaurants, bars and tour companies are. There are also street vendors who sell great plates with beans and rice, whole fish and salad. These were part of our staple diet here and for only $6 US they were one of the cheapest options for meals, and delicious too.


Bocas del Toro

One of the locals


What about the beaches? Well the first one to check out is the starfish beach about 20mins. drive out of town. This beach is lined with palm trees and in the shallows of the clear waters you will find hundreds of large red starfish. Make sure you look where you step as they really are everywhere. And to preserve the wildlife for you kids, make sure you don’t touch them and certainly don’t remove them from the water.


Bocas del Toro

Starfish Beach


Once you’ve seen starfish beach you would be wise to hire a boat and captain with a few other people so you can explore the rest of the area. There were four of us and we managed to get our price down to $20 per person. We set off in a small boat with a canopy, captain and an Esky (for the beers of course). Our captain took us through small islands to where the dolphins frequent, but sadly we were there too late in the day. From there we made our way to an excellent snorkelling spot where we found lots of tiny fish and many different corals in blues, reds and purples. It was actually one of the best small reefs I have been to. After the snorkelling we finished off in our own deserted island paradise where our captain left us to swim and explore the jungle. With warm waters the Caribbean beaches are perfect for just floating in. When our captain picked us up we returned to the main island and town and set off for the bars. The nightlife in Bocas is ok but the drinks are pricier than other parts of Panama.


Bocas delToro

Our island paradise awaits


By the next day it was time for us to move on but if you had the time Bocas del Toro is a place you could easily spend more time. We went at the end of October and had blue skies and sunshine. Wait a little longer and you will be hit with the monsoon season and your Bocas experience will be a lot different so make sure you check the seasons when planning your trip.


Bocas del Toro

Searching for dolphins

Bocas del Toro

Time to explore

Bocas del Toro

Not another soul on the beach

Have you been to Boacas del Toro? How was your experience? If you have any tips or prices you’d like to share with your fellow readers please leave a comment. Until next time. Happy travels!


  1. The first thing I notice is how calm it is. Not only the waters but the look and vibe of it. This is truly beautiful. You’ll have to post more pictures though ๐Ÿ™‚ By the way, you don’t have an “ugly” mug. What are you talking about!

    • Yeah it was great Parvis, warm calm waters, sunshine and palm trees. All you need really. Haha thanks brother ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This beach is so stunning. I can portrait myself swimming in the sea and drinking a huge coconut!

    • I know, isn’t it great. Wish I was back there ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hi Ardun! I had an 8-hour layover in Panama City and had a great day! However I was so bummed to not have the chance to go to Bocas del Toro. I usually travel Central America all at once, but Panama deserves a trip in itself! Thanks for the beautiful photos, especially the starfish!

    • Thanks Marisa ๐Ÿ™‚ Yeah Panama City is great! I really loved the old town how it was still run down. Save Bocas del Toro in your mind for your next Central America trip.

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