Undiscovered: Bocas Del Toro
Welcome to Carribean paradise – where waters are crystal blue, capboard houses are painted pastel hues and a pina colada is welcome at any hour.
Isla Colon, the largest and most developed of the Bocas Region is home to Bocas Del Toro – which for many tourists, is the the heart and soul of this region. Think portside restaurants, overwater bungalows, bicycle traffic jams and swaying to the Spanish tunes all night long. We were lucky enough to explore this beautiful island for a quick escape – follow Faithfulls must see’s below
WHERE TO STAY
Red Frog Bungalows
Catering to the adventure tourist who seeks an off the beaten path holiday, Red Frog Bungalows is hidden luxury situated on Playa Red Frog. With a fleet of boats and knowledgeable guides boasting empty white sand beaches, secret surf breaks and coral reefs at the tip of your fingers, Red Frog Bungalows is a beautiful escape to see the best of the best in Panama.
Faro del Colibri Aqua Bungalows
Offering a uniquely beautiful Panama experience, Faro Del Colibri offers charming yellow bungalows stilted over the sea. No longer are the days when you need to empty your pockets in Tahiti or the Maldives for a truly one of a kind experience – this niche hotel offers the comfortability of being 1 minute boat ride from the main Bocas Town for only $120 USD per night.
WHERE TO EAT
When travelling, we are firm believers in finding the greatest food possible (because we love food a little bit too much!). When in Bocas, make sure to visit LeafEaters – not only is this over water shack the greatest vegetarian restaurant on the island, but it was potentially one of the greatest panini’s we have had the pleasure of devouring. Splurge out on a frozen Peanut cookie or delicious fresh smoothie. Open from 10am – 4pm – LeafEaters 1 minute boat ride from Bocas Del Toro port which will cost $1USD each way.
If you love Japanese cuisine, you can’t leave Bocas without dining at this dockside restaurant. Serving seafood and vegetarian sashimi, when you need a sushi fix – this without doubt does the trick. Tip – dine between 3-5pm for Happy Hour where all dishes are $5, local beers $1 and 2 for 1 cocktails while the sun goes down. Try the crispy mahi mahi rolls, the Mahi Ceviche and the freshly squeeze Passionfruit Juice for a refreshing hit of goodness.
WHAT TO SEE
Red Frog Beach
Presented by locals as one of the best beaches in the Bocas Province, Red Frog Beach was the first island adventure we ticked off the bucket list. We jumped on a local rickety boat for $8 USD each way, followed by 15 minutes of pristine ocean when we shortly arrived at a lush forest entry. Be wary to carry enough money on you for the $5 entrance fee and snacks if desired. Bars serving freshly squized juices or mouth watering alcoholic beverages to cure your thirst are not to be missed!
Don’t be alarmed when walking for approximately 10 minutes through what will feel like a deserted forest track with what we could distinguish as crocodile signs along the way (we are sure this was a tourist attraction and hopefully not actually a site for crocs!). If you are into surfing – you are 100% in luck. Potentially one of the greatest breaks in all of Bocas – this spot is not to be missed.
Star Fish Beach
Located 30 minutes drive from Bocas Park – star fish beach takes you to pristine, flat waters where you can spend your entire day sun dazed, sipping cocktails by the sea. This trip will cost you $2.50 return on Bocas Del Frogo bus – which runs at 10am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.
When you arrive at the drop off beach, simply follow the beaten beach track for about 15 minutes walking distance to find a batch of vibrant beach front shacks playing Spanish tunes, serving local produce and delicious smoothies and cocktails.
As Bocas becomes more touristic, you will find this island is less showcased as the locals want to protect the ocean species. The one day we arrived, there were no starfish to be seen and this is largely due to people’s disregard for the environment here. You will see numerous signs stating do not touch the starfish – as 1 minute out of water will result in their death, similar to sunscreened hands is basically poison.
Regardless of the fact we didn’t get to snorkel with these beautiful creatures, we would irrefutably visit Starfish Beach again as it was a definite favorite of our complete stay!
If you are after some exercise and a breath of fresh air, hire a bicycle in town at $6 per day and prepare for an adventure. We followed the road north towards the local surf club and continued for approximately 35 minutes along one strip. Be prepared for some small hills, and sandy tracks and you will be hugging the coastline the entire way.
This was one of our favorite days on the island – as we got to see the less developed side of Bocas – stopping by deserted strips of beachfront and devouring way too many coconuts dropped from the trees. Bluff has 2 beach breaks, but many little hidden spots along the way – so keep your eyes peeled and be prepared to spend your whole day beach safari-ing in the beautiful tropics! Definitely a not to be missed activity.
WHAT TO PACK
Overall we fell in love with the chilled out vibe that Bocas had to offer, as well as remarkable ocean landscapes we hadn’t come across in the region. If you ever visit Panama – Bocas Del Toro needs to be added to your bucketlist.
Written by Faithfull
Imagery via Faithfull & Pinterest