Bocas del Toro, Panama

Isla Cristobal,
Isla Shepard
& Darklands

These islands and mainland areas are home to cacao farms, indigenous villages, and an endemic family of dolphins.

Dolphin Bay, Bocas del Toro

Isla Cristobal, Isla Shepard & Darklands

Cacao Farms, Indigenous Villages, and Dolphins

Off the beaten track, you will find the islands of Cristobal, Shepard, and the mainland shores of the “Darklands” named after its fertile soil. The fertile ground also happens to host cacao farms producing some of the famous chocolate that comes from the Bocas del Toro islands and mainland. You can take cacao tours, ride horses on the island paths, explore the local indigenous villages or go dolphin watching. This area of Bocas is home to a small coastal dolphin population consisting of around 100 that possess a variation in their DNA that is unique to them. This is because they do not move very much and pretty much stay here after birth, making them genetically isolated from other populations in the Caribbean.


History of Isla Cristobal Area

Isla Cristobal was named after Christopher Columbus after he came to the Bocas del Toro islands on the 6th of October of the year 1502 on his fourth and last trip. Isla Shepard was named after the Shepard family during the beginning of the 19th century. Over the years both islands were deforested and used for farming, and today this area is popular for cacao farms.

Isla Cristobal Area Culture

Isla Cristobal, Isla Shepard and the Darklands are home to the indigenous Ngäbe. San Cristóbal, the main town on Isla Cristobal, is the perfect place to experience the culture that Bocas del Toro has to offer. A tourist spot is the Dolphin Bay to visit the dolphins living there.

How to Get to Isla Cristobal Area

Getting to this area of Bocas del Toro can be done by hiring a water taxi to take you. Most visitors to Dolphin Bay will stop by here on their way to other attractions. Cacao Farm tours and indigenous tours have to be organized ahead of time, and usually, tour operators include transportation as well.

Safety on Isla Cristobal Area

Located a little further out from the main Bocas islands, this area of Bocas del Toro is safe, but like always, practice common sense by not leaving your personal items alone.


Isla Cristobal Area Tips & Tricks

Mosquito repellent is a must. The chitras, tiny little biting flies that pack a wallop, have trouble getting through a layer of coconut oil. So stop by a local store to buy some and shine yourself up before hitting this area. 

Things to Do


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