Does Bocas del Toro Have a “Rainy Season”?


In Panama, there are only two seasons; dry and rainy. Lots of websites and travel books about visiting Panama tell you that the dry season is from December to March. But that isn’t the case when it comes to Bocas del Toro. Unlike the rest of the country, Bocas del Toro has its microclimate, but with a bit of planning, you can make the best of your Panama vacation to this Caribbean archipelago.

Talamanca mountain range divides Panama’s western region and separates the Pacific Ocean from the Caribbean Sea. These mountains are the highest in Panama, and because of their location, they block a lot of the wind traveling over the isthmus from the Pacific or the Caribbean. The mountain’s closeness to the Bocas del Toro archipelago also traps the moisture in this region, making it a bit rainier than other Panama spots.

Most of the provinces along the Pacific coast of the Panamanian isthmus are known as the dry arch. Many of the trees along this area of Panama were cut down for cattle and agriculture, making this area a lot drier than other Panama places. Bocas del Toro, on the other hand, is very, very green. The trip from Gualaca in the neighboring province of Chiriqui over the Talamanca corridor towards the Bocas del Toro islands is full of large trees in these mountain rainforests. The moisture is especially evident when you are driving over the highest area through the mist and fog. The La Amistad International Park, wedged in between Costa Rica and Panama, is home to some of the largest primary rainforests in Central America. These rainforests, along with the Talamanca mountain range, home to the highest peak in Panama, the famous Volcan Baru, trap moisture, meaning sometimes we have clouds parked over the islands.

So what does this all mean? Does Bocas del Toro even have a dry season? Well, the answer is yes and no. Unlike the rest of the country, Bocas del Toro’s driest months are usually March and September through October. There is less rain than average during these months, but it doesn’t mean it’s not going to rain. The sea is usually a lot calmer in September and October, offering the opportunity to visit places generally more challenging to reach the rest of the year. Travelers can go places like the famous Escudo de Veraguas through private sailing charters or tour operators from Bocas Town. These months are the perfect time to visit if you want sunny days with calmer seas. March is a bit drier than the rest of the year, but you can still expect some rain. It’s also usually around the end of surf season, which means you could have sunnier surf days to enjoy.

The rainiest months of the year are November through December. Sometimes the clouds decide to park over the Bocas del Toro islands and sit there for weeks. The calm winter winds swing down the Caribbean sea from North America and park over the islands as they bounce off the mountains that enclose the Bocas archipelago. If you decide to plan your trip to Bocas del Toro during these months, bring a rain jacket and even a sweater. It can get a bit chilly on some days (for us locals at least!). Most importantly, pack a good attitude. You can still do things when it rains like diving, surfing… and dancing in the rain.

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