The Hub of the Bocas del Toro Islands, Panama
The central hub of the Bocas del Toro archipelago is where most of the hotels, restaurants, bars, tour operators, and businesses are located. Bocas Town is where you will find the Bocas del Toro International Airport with direct flights from Panama City. Home to the majority of events and activities, this is where you will find a lively downtown atmosphere and wild beaches and lush jungle. This island truly has it all.
Bocas Town sits on the southernmost node of Isla Colon, and it is the capital and main town of the Bocas del Toro islands. Though Bocas Town is the bustling center of the area, it is still small and easy to get around. Most hotels, restaurants, and bars are located on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd street (Main St). In the center of town is the Simon Bolivar Park where artisans sell food and handicrafts. Taxis are everywhere, but most locals get around on bicycles, which are rented all over town.
Walk around Bocas Town and explore the shops for artisan work. See live music in over-the-sea restaurants, the center of town, and enjoy the lively atmosphere of downtown Bocas.
There are many restaurants in Bocas Town, in fact, you might be surprised at the quality and variety of food you can find in such a small town. Over-the-water restaurants offer happy hour specials from late afternoon onward. At night, Bocas Town lights up with music and events. Check out the many bars and discotheques and enjoy a night dancing and letting loose in Bocas Town.
Bluff Beach is famous for its golden sand and jungle backdrop. Dotted with beachfront restaurants, this is a magical place where you can still find a little section just to yourself. This beach is also a significant nesting area for different species of sea turtles. Go on horseback tours in the jungles. Disconnect from everything by just laying on a hammock by the beach or grab a few tubes in its shore pounding waves- Bluff Beach shouldn’t be missed by any visitor.
Boca del Drago is a great option for snorkeling or enjoying a relaxing day at the beach. Here you will find delicious beachfront restaurants offering fresh seafood and local cuisine. Have lunch and then enjoy great snorkeling just out front. You can also walk over to Starfish Beach or take a boat tour to Bird Island. Starfish Beach is an excellent spot for swimming as it faces the mainland and doesn’t have waves.
Bird Island, a municipal reserve, is a small rocky outcropping just out from the northern tip of Isla Colon. Sea birds such as terns, frigates, shearwaters, and gulls circle around the island while smaller forest-dwelling birds flit in and out of the dense canopy. This is the only place in Panama you can see the Red-Billed Tropicbird, identifiable by the long ribbon-like tail feathers flowing behind them as they glide around the island. The area around the island is accessible only during calm seas. This is a bird watching paradise and the perfect place to get a taste of the wild Caribbean. Remember, people are not permitted to access the island itself.
- History of Isla Colón
- Isla Colón Culture
- How to Get to Isla Colón
- Safety on Isla Colón
- Isla Colón Tips & Tricks
History of Isla Colón
Bocas del Toro is a picturesque archipelago located in the Caribbean Sea on the northern side of Panama’s isthmus. These islands were first discovered (and named after) Christopher Columbus in 1502, utilized initially as a place used for refuge and repairs to his fleet of ships.
Isla Colón Culture
Bocas del Toro was once one of Panama’s most critical provinces during the 20th-century banana boom. During this time, Europeans, Afro-Antillean workers from the Panama Canal, and Americans around the continent came to Bocas del Toro. They came to work for the banana plantations and help build what once was a bustling Bocas Town. Fast forward a little over 100 years – Bocas del Toro is a mix of Afro-Antillean and indigenous locals as well as European, Asian, and American ex-pats. All these residents call Bocas del Toro home.
How to Get to Isla Colón
Bocas Town is where you will find the Bocas del Toro International Airport with direct flights from Panama City and San Jose, Costa Rica. There are also boat taxis and the Bocas Ferry transporting both people and vehicles to Isla Colón.
Safety on Isla Colón
Bocas Town is the hub of the Bocas del Toro islands, is where the central police station is located. Lots of police are supervising the islands, but it’s important to practice common knowledge when visiting. Make sure to not leave your things along on the beach if you decide to go for a swim.
Isla Colón Tips & Tricks
Make sure you pack the right attitude. Remember, you are in the Caribbean on island time. Things may take longer to happen, plans may change, it may rain, and the ATM, the electricity, the internet, and even the water service could run out on you at times. This is all part of your adventure, so take it as the material for a good story, and you will enjoy your stay a lot more.
|Divers Paradise Boutique Hotel||If you came to Bocas del Toro to dive then Divers Paradise Boutique Hotel is the perfect option offering a boutique hotel with new and high quality installations with restaurant and in-house dive school, all located in Bocas Town.|
|Gran Hotel Bahia||The oldest running hotel in Bocas del Toro, Gran Hotel Bahia operates in a historic building that was built in 1905 as the headquarters to the United Fruit Company (Chiquita Banana). Since 1968 it has been operating as a hotel, with local owners and staff.|
|Hostel Mamallena Bocas||Located over the sea with a fun vibrant bar Hostel Mamallena Bocas offers a comfortable place to relax and meet other travellers with the privelage of enjoying ocean views.|
|Hotel Bocas del Toro||With ocean and town views Hotel Bocas del Toro is a classic when it comes to personal service and a beautifully decorated boutique hotel offering a full over-the-sea Caribbean inspired restaurant and bar.|
|Hotel Don Chicho||The colorful Hotel Don Chicho offers private accommodations just steps away from the center of Bocas Town making this a great option for budget travelers looking for comfort and relaxation.|
|Hotel Palma Royale||With 180 degrees views of the Bocas Islands it’s no wonder why Hotel Palma Royale is one of the most popular places to stay and enjoy what Bocas has to offer- complete with private rooms and suites and a delicious Italian restaurant below.|
|Hotel Vista Mar||Comfortable and offering excellent views and delicious local cuisine, Hotel Vista Mar is the perfect place to discover what Bocas has to offer– rumor has it some of the best fishing tours are also offered here!|
|The Bocas Inn||The Bocas Inn is a charming family lodge located on the water’s edge of isla Colon, in Bocas Town offering private rooms and a lovely deck to enjoy the views of the Caribbean sea.|
|Saigon Bay Bed & Breakfast||Perched over Saigon Bay on Isla Colon, Saigon Bay Bed & Breakfast offers private comfortable rooms with workspaces available for the digital nomad looking for a place to relax and enjoy Bocas like the locals do.|
|Somewhere||Somewhere is a luxury, nine-suite property located just outside of Bocas Town between high palm trees and the tourquise ocean offering an unforgettable experience.|
|Tropical Suites||Nestled in the heart of Bocas Town, Tropical Suites features a modern, elegant design and comforting amenities, allowing guests to truly relax and enjoy their trip to the beautiful tropical island of Colon.|
|Yarisnori||One of Bocas del Toro’s most popular restaurants and famous for seafood dishes, Yarisnori is a beachfront restaurant and hotel located at Boca del Drago, Isla Colon.|
Things to Do
So you got your airplane ticket, and you're coming to Panama for vacation. You have decided that you want to explore the islands of Bocas del Toro for one week, but you're not sure where to stay,...