Bocas del Toro, Panama

Bocas del Toro Island Map

The map of the archipelago above can be used to get information on the othe islands if you click on the yellow buttons on the map. Further information on our own web site can be accessed vis the buttons below.

Coral Cay Isla Popa Zapatillas Water Cay Bastimentos island Bocas del toro Colon Island Cristobal Island Almirante The Bocas del Toro Archipelago consists of nine islands, 52 keys and some 200 tiny islets. The largest and most developed island is Colón Island, where the capital of the province, the town of Bocas del Toro, is located. The total population of the archipelago is around 9000 people, of whom roughly half live in the town of Bocas del Toro.

The islands are evolving rapidly from a backpackers’ destination into a more upscale resort area, so the sooner you get there, the less influenced the area will be by the outside world. There are a large number of hotels, restaurants, facilities for ecotourism and other adventures. Bocas del Toro offers white-sand beaches on the exposed Caribbean side, boat trips on the sheltered lagoon side, and everywhere opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, diving and sunbathing.

There are two ways to get to Bocas del Toro. The first is by road via the Inter American highway. The other way is to go by airplane with daily from Panama City, and other flights from David or Changuinola.

There is a wide range of different peoples in Bocas. You are more likely to hear English spoken in Bocas than anywhere else in Panama. The islands are the indigenous home of the Ngöbe-Buglé indian people. Then came Afro-Caribbean workers English-speaking islands of Jamaica, San Andrés, and Providencia to work on the banana plantations that prospered in the archipelago a century ago. Now many Americans and Europeans are setting up home here. If you want to learn to speak Spanish, try one of the Language Schools

Efforts are being made to preserve the wide streets and the wooden houses from the boom days of the banana plantations.

And while it may seem that everyone is in the real-estate business these days, the wildness of the undeveloped Caribbean is still to be found in plenty. Long-term ex-pats grumble that Bocas isn’t what it used to be, but to date the changes have been for the betterment of the area. Accommodation is still available for backpackers and surfers for five dollars and a meal can be had for a few dollars. But in addition more luxurious hotels and restaurants and vacation rentals have sprung up.

The area is rich in wildlife. The first marine reserve in Panama was created in 1988 - the Bastimentos Island National Marine Park. A 33,000 acre park with stunning underwater scenery to be viewed either by snorkeling or scuba diving along the coral reefs. And to the north of Isla Colon is Swan Cay, a bird sanctuary with a variety of local and migratory species. Four species of endangered sea turtles still visit the waters of Bocas and the turtles come ashore in great numbers to lay their eggs on the north side of the islands and some stretches of the mainland coast in season. .

Bocas’s biggest inconvenience is the rain. Well, this is part of a rain forest after all. It is one of the wettest regions in Panama. There is slightly less rain in September/October and February/March. But even in the rainy season ( the months of December and July have the most rain) rain storms pass fairly quickly.

Almirante Bocas del Toro Colon Coral Cristobal Bastimentos Popa Water Cay Zapatillas

Here are a number of links to other sites ofering differing perspectives on Bocas del Toro.

Tide Times

Living in Bocas An ex-pat view on living in Bocas

Epinions Reviews

iExplore Reviews

Weather at Bocas

Guardian Article

USA Today Article

Escape Artist Report- Bocas del Toro

Other Bocas del Toro Web Sites