Bocas del Toro, a group of islands close to the Costa Rica border has been by far my favourite place in Panama. While it is nice sometimes to be in the jungle, climb mountains and take in all the nature, I prefer to be close to the beach and the ocean. But what to do in Bocas del Toro, other than laying at the beach getting a sunburn/ tan?
Bocas del Toro is probably one of these places you either love or hate. I loved it but I also met people who really didn’t enjoy their time on these beautiful islands.
But first of all, how do you get to Bocas del Toro? If you are coming from Boquete you first have to take a bus to David and from there another longer bus to Almirante. But just ask for Bocas de Toro and they will show you which bus it is at the bus stop. The bus from David to Almirante is also the one that passes by the Lost and Found Hostel if you are planning on heading there.
From Almirante, either walk or take a short taxi ride to the water taxi station and from there it’s a short water taxi ride away and they also go quite frequently. However, if you are not coming from Panama there is also an easy way to get from Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica to Bocas del Toro.
I honestly don’t know why, there is a lot to do it never really gets boring, at least when staying on the main island. On the other hand though it is quite touristy, which isn’t really surprising, so it might be slightly more expensive.
The one thing that Bocas is for sure is a massive party place. Which is sometimes what you need after doing tours and activities and getting up early on all previous days. Just chilling by the beach, no responsibilities and enough time to figure out the rest of your travels.
If you are not staying in a big party hostel like Selina’s with loud music every night then it is also quite easy to avoid the drunk backpacker crowds, if that is not what you are into.
1. Go on a Boat Tour in Bocas del Toro
For around $25 you can go on a boat tour that will take you to a few different places. Tickets can be bought at any travel agency and the total time is around 6 hours (10am to 4pm). Firstly, they will take you to a place where you might spot some dolphins (we did yay!). After, you get dropped off at another location where you can order some food for later.
Then we went to this beautiful beach where we spent around two hours, taking pictures, trying to get a tan and jumping around in the ocean. Then it goes back to the food place where you can eat and/or snorkel as well. On the way home we stopped to see some starfish where the water was really shallow. As well as Sloth island where we saw something kind of somehow moving which might or might not have been a sloth.
2. Go surfing and/or scuba diving
I feel like it’s not that easy to find places where you can both surf and scuba dive. It’s either one or the other. I didn’t surf in Bocas but there are a few beaches for both beginners and pro’s that however are a few minutes away from the main area. So either rent a bike or take a cab.
I’m more of a diver anyway, there are a few diving schools around. I did two dives but the visibility wasn’t the best, so I didn’t feel like more diving but hey, it is possible.
3. Enjoy the beach a day at the beach
There are a lot of beautiful beaches around that you can reach by shuttle or water taxis. Red Frog Beach is supposed to be quite dashing and a lot more quite than beaches on the main island. It is nice to just relax every now and then.
4. Go on a fun night out in Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is not the party place of Panama for no reason. A lot of bars, a lot of happy hours and a lot of drunk people wanting to get mortal, will make a night out in Bocas unforgettable. Wednesday is a big night out but the biggest party on Bocas will be held on a Friday, were it will get filthy on Filthy Friday.
5. Join the Filthy Friday Island Pub Crawl
I will write a full post just about filthy friday for sure. It’s this massive bar/island crawl which will take you to different bars on different islands. The price is $25 for a ticket (drinks not included) and it is a daytime activity and starts at noon.
Officially it ends at 8pm, but there is an “afterparty” at Selina’s or maybe you are not even going to make it until 8pm who knows. It’s going to be a memorable day for sure, so don’t miss out on it if you happen to be in Bocas.
Do you agree with this list of what to do in Bocas del Toro? Let me know if you have anything to add! Have you been to Bocas del Toro and did you like it?
After Bocas del Toro, I made my way over the border to Costa Rica, where one of the first things I did was to visit the Jaguar Rescue Center in Puerto Viejo! Just in case you want to get an idea of what to do after your stay on Bocas.
Talk to you later x