Bocas Town

Bocas town with its hotels and hostels in the Bocas del Toro archipelago serves as the capital for the Bocas del Toro province and has the highest population of any town in this island area of Panama. Bocas town is located on the southern tip of Isla Colon and features many amenities including hotels, hostels, restaurants, banks, a small hospital, regional airport, bars, and local stores and services. Bocas town can be accessed by air, ferry, or water taxi from the mainland. From Bocas Town, it is a short 15 minute boat ride to Isla Bastimentos where Red Frog Beach is located. Bocas Town has often been called the proverbial Caribbean island town.   It is charmingly dilapidated with rambling turn of the century wooden frame houses brightly painted and converted into coffeehouses, restaurants and bars.  Its long waterfront restaurant row allows provides a sublime view of the bay and nearby islands.  This is also the departure point for island hopping trips that capture the true essence of Bocas del Toro as boat trips to all places originate in Bocas Town.  It is has a colorful history and an even more colorful present- the banana plantation past has given way to the more profitable pursuits of a multi-decade long tourist boom.   Still, Bocas manages to escape the crass commercialization of other more established tourism enclaves.  This is partly due to the fact that it is still in the process of being discovered; tourism here originated from surfers and backpackers which is why there are numerous hostels in Bocas del Toro. Bocas del Toro (and Bocas Town) has much more in common with its Caribbean counterparts- St. Thomas, St. Lucia, Antigua or the Bahamas- than with the mainland of Panama.  Indeed it is often said that Bocas town “feels” like these locales did four or five decades ago. For those making a visit to the Bocas del Toro region, Bocas Town should be looked at as the gateway to the region.  It is the best place to experience nightlife, numerous dining options and to originate tours.   Still among the old timers- expats or locals who have made the archipelago their home- the essence of Bocas del Toro is captured in the distinct beauty of the surrounding area.  You will hear this mantra repeated again and again if you spend any length of time in the region.   So come to Bocas town and enjoy it services, but if you have a chance try to stay in the more peaceful enclaves that exist beyond the quiet waterways to the fore of Bocas town.   The island of Bastimentos is the most popular destination beyond Bocas Town and for good reason- its beaches, new zipline and access to the National Marine Park are truly world class. Many tourists that come to Bocas del Toro and stay in Bocas town (in either a hotel or hostel) do not realize that there is no beach there. Most activities and water/island adventures are accessed by water-taxi. For those wanting to stay closer to a beach, lodging options at Bocas Bound Hostel or Red Frog Beach are good choices 15 minutes away by boat (cost $3-$5).  Water taxis provide service to and from Red Frog Beach Resort and Bocas town at regular intervals throughout the day. Bocas Town Sunrise