5 Places to Kayak in Bocas del Toro


Bocas del Toro is a paddling paradise. No matter what canoe you decide to use, the Bocas del Toro islands offer several different spots where you can go exploring. Whether it’s over colorful reefs teeming with fishes and rays below or through mangrove forests with sloths up in the trees, Bocas del Toro is a popular place to paddle. Of all the canoes you can find in Bocas del Toro, the kayak is hands down one of the most popular to rent. Available in different touring shops, hotels, hostels, and restaurants, there are different types of kayaks available in Bocas del Toro. You can rent transparent kayaks to see the seafloor’s bottom; you can rent single, double, or triple kayaks as well to explore the islands. Here are five places to kayak while visiting Bocas del Toro.

Suppose you want to paddle over the reef head over the Isla Carenero. Located a couple of minutes by water taxi from Bocas Town, Isla Carenero is a small island offering many activities, and kayaking happens to be one of them. Available in different spots on this island, you can rent transparent kayaks while paddling over the reef. Be careful with the waves and rocks, but go for a paddle around the island if the conditions allow. The trip is about 7 kilometers, and the bottom is mainly reef. With the clear kayaks, you can paddle around Isla Carenero and watch the reef below the canoe as you pass by. It’s like combining paddling with snorkeling.

Across the channel from Isla Carenero is Hospital Point on Isla Solarte. The paddle from Isla Carenero is short, about 1 kilometer, and there is a lovely small beach there. If you want, you can take snorkeling gear and snorkel the beach outside of Hospital Point. Hospital Point is a great spot that isn’t that far from town but can be the perfect refuge for anyone looking for a bit of privacy and natural beauty.

Another kayak trip is up in the mangrove channels of the Bastimentos Bat caves Nívida. Available through different tour agencies in Bocas del Toro and some accommodations, this kayak trip goes under a canopy of mangroves. Here you will find yourself looking up more than down below the water. Above you will see sloths and parrots and different trees and plants. From the channel’s entrance at the end of Bahía Honda, wedged in between Isla Solarte and Isla Bastimentos, it’s about a 20-minute paddle to the back where the local village is. Usually, the tour includes the bat cave tour as well, so if you’re going, make sure to pack some water shoes and a dry bag.

Kayaking Saigon Bay, Isla Colon

Closer to Bocas Town is Saigon Bay, home to many small bed and breakfasts, hostels, and vacation rentals nestled over the bay. Here there are also places available to rent kayaks and behind this bay are different places to explore. Check out the mangrove channels of the Matumbal Municipal Reserve, where you can see parrots, howler monkeys, sloths, and more (the earlier you go, the more chances there are to see them). Or outside to Saigon Bay’s left, paddle past the Bocas del Toro International Airport’s airstrip, where posts are coming out of the water. You will see other boats tied up to the buoys with dive students below. Take your snorkeling gear and explore the reefs here. There is a sunken ship too.

Finally, Dolphin Bay is home to a family of dolphins that are endemic to this area. The local village here is Bocatorito, and nearby you can find small over-the-sea villas and bed and breakfasts offering kayaks for rent. Another option is to go on a sailing tour here; many of them provide kayaks as well. Once you are here, you can paddle amongst the dolphins as they swim around you. The water is pretty calm here, so feel free to pack a camera or smartphone in a waterproof case and catch some photos of the dolphins as they swim past. There are also some snorkeling spots here. Usually, the sailing tours will take you there as well.

The closeness of the islands to each other makes Bocas del Toro a true paddling paradise. Each place offers a different experience; whether you want to see the colorful reefs teeming with fishes or paddle through the Bocas del Toro islands’ mangroves with sloths waving down is an endless amount of places to kayak in Bocas del Toro.

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