Bocas del Toro, Panama


Coastal Towns & Cloudforest Mountains

While this area of Bocas del Toro is still developing, the magic here is evident. Main towns include Almirante, a port town, Changuinola, a small city, and Sixaola, a border town. In the cloud forest, mountains find some scattered mountain eco-lodges and lookout points near the Chiriqui border.

Mainland, Bocas del Toro

Almirante, Changuinola, Sixaola

This area of Bocas del Toro includes the mainland towns that makeup Bocas del Toro. Almirante is the port city where anyone going to the Bocas islands would arrive and has a cacao tour worth checking out. Changuinola is the largest city in Bocas del Toro and has some larger shopping areas and the second airport in the province. Sixaola is the border town just across from Costa Rica.

The mountains of Bocas del Toro offer some of the wildest primary rainforests in Central America. Here there are a few mountain lodges to check out and some indigenous tribes providing amazing experiences. One of those tribes is the Naso, a small indigenous group that lives in the northeastern Bocas del Toro mountain region. They are spread out in eleven communities along the Río Teribe and are among the last indigenous groups in the Americas that have a traditional monarchy.


History of Mainland Bocas

Many people do not know but Bocas del Toro is home to the first man made canal in Panama, the Snyder Canal. The Snyder Banana Company and Minor C. Keith were granted permission by the Colombian government in 1899 to build a canal near Boca del Drago, isla Colon to Changuinola with the objective to connect new banana plantations in Changuinola with new port towns to export bananas. The United Fruit Company purchased the Snyder Banana Company in 1899, and completed the Snyder Canal in 1903, 11 years before the completion of the famous Panama Canal.

Mainland Bocas Culture

Mainland Bocas del Toro has a very rich cultural mix of different ethnicities of indigenous groups and afro-antilleans. Indigenous groups such as the Ngäbe, the Naso Tjer Di one of the last remaining monarchies in the American continent, the Bribri, and the Buglé located in coastal towns and in the high mountains of Bocas. Afro-antillean people can be found in along the coast at Almirante, Changuinola and Chiriqui Grande. 

How to Get to Mainland Bocas

Mainland Bocas del Toro is acesible by road and plane. Reach main towns such as Almirante and Changuinola by bus from Panama City and David, Chiriqui, and from Costa Rica. The drive from Gualaca, Chiriqui to Almirante, Bocas del Toro is about four hours. Flights to Changuinola “Capitan Manuel Niño” International Airport are available from Panama City.

Safety on Mainland Bocas

Just like anywhere use common sense when visiting mainland Bocas del Toro. Do not leave your things unattended. Police stations are located throughout most towns and in indigenous comarcas local authorities are the law. 

Mainland Bocas Tips & Tricks

Mainland Bocas is one of the least developed areas for tourism in Bocas del Toro, but that doesn’t mean its not worth a visit. Look for eco-hostels and lodges located in the cloudforest near the Chiriquí-Bocas del Toro border, immerse yourself in one of the last remaining monarchies in the Americas with the Naso Tjer Di indigenous people along the Teribe River, check out locally run cacao farms in Almirante that create award winning chocolate treats. 

Things to Do


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