Exploring Bocas Del Toro
(by Caitlin)

Bocas Del Toro is Central America's best-kept secret.  While most travelers in search of Central American beach vacations make a beeline straight for Costa Rica, neighboring Bocas is much cheaper and much less crowded.  In other words, you'll never have to fight off a hoard of tourists for a prime spot on a beach.  In fact, you will likely have miles of pristine, white sand beaches and beautiful, cerulean Caribbean all to yourself.

The stunning Panamanian province spreads roughly 4,643 square kilometers across ten main islands, fifty cays, and approximately 200 inlets.  From sea kayaking to snorkeling to deep sea diving, it is a water lover's paradise.  It has attracted a plethora of visitors over the years, since Columbus first landed on the islands in 1502.  All in all, the islands are the perfect recipe for a tranquil beach getaway.  And as an added bonus, Panama is conveniently situated outside the hurricane belt, so you don't have to worry about it raining on your parade.

Underwater view of sea life and coral

Bocas Town.  Also known as the city of Bocas del Toro, Bocas Town is the province's capital and transportation hub, situated on Isla Colon.  Today home to about 13,000 people, the town was actually founded by the United Fruit Company.  If you're planning on exploring Bocas del Toro, this provincial capital is the best jumping off point.  Flights run daily from Costa Rica and Panama City to the town's airport, Bocas del Toro "Isla Colon" International Airport.

It's also easy to explore other islands via water taxi.  Plus, there are some good beaches within a short distance from the town.  Playa Bluff, a secluded, wilderness beach fill of nesting sea turtles, is situated about 8 kilometers to the north while Playa El Istmito is a notorious surf hot-spot. 

Isla Bastimentos.  Home to more nests of sea turtles, a wild coastline and pristine coral reefs, this island is about a ten-minute boat ride away from Bocas Town.  The main settlement on the island is Old Bank, previously a banana town.  This island is also known for its numerous wilderness beaches, hidden by jungle groves of palm trees and thick jungle vines. 

Wizard Beach is a desolate slice of paradise, by far the most beautiful beach on Isla Bastimentos.  Tucked away from the Bustle of Bocas, the beach is about a thirty-minute walk from Old Bank via a wilderness trail.  From Wizard Beach you can also continue on to Playa Segunda and Red Frog Beach.  You will also find the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park on the island's south shore.  This natural reserve is home to a number of native species, including crocodiles, sea turtles, and manatees.  Last but not least, the area also boasts additional excellent coral reefs.

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