At the end of our 5 month journey through South America we decided to spend 3 weeks chilling out in Bocas del Toro, Panama. We had read that Bocas was ‘the’ place for retirement in Panama and we just had to see for ourselves. From Boquete we took a shuttle that brought us to the pier in Almirante and from there we were loaded onto a speedboat and taken to Isla Colon where Bocas Town is located. We rented an apartment with a great over-the-water balcony on the beautiful Caribbean Sea.
Local fishermen would row up to our deck and offer to sell us lobster or crab.
We spent a lot of time on our deck, watching the starfish, reading, and just relaxing.
We did have a couple of hazards while staying in this over-the-water apartment. Gordon’s iPad cover was broken and when he sat down on the deck his iPad slid right out of the cover and into the sea! A nice diver next door recovered it for him off of the ocean floor but of course there was no saving it. Then we had a poor gecko crawl into a bottle (he wanted some beer too) and we’re happy to report that he did manage to find his way out.
Bocas Town was the best place to stay for us, we could easily take a water taxi or hire a boat to take us to some of the surrounding islands.
One should not miss going to the Zapatillas. We couldn’t really snorkel the day we went because the current was really strong but we enjoyed the white sands and the clear waters.
We took a walk around Cayo Zapatilla but they really need to repair the boardwalk – I guess the National Park fees aren’t going towards any maintenance…it was beautiful to walk around the whole island though!
On our way back from Cayo Zapatilla we stopped to snorkel at Kraal Cay and also had some lunch. There were some nice colourful soft corals here but we didn’t see many fish.
This area is full of little mangrove islands and we saw so many starfish in the shallow waters and on one of the islands we saw a sloth.
Another nice island to see is Isla Bastimentos and the beautiful Red Frog beach. The red frogs do exist! Don’t miss out on the fish tacos here, they are delicious.
There were some amazing sailboats moored at the Red Frog Beach Resort marina. It’s a great area for sailing!
A good place to chill out and swim is Boca del Drago and Playa Estrella (Starfish Beach) and you can catch a minivan from the main square in town for around $5 return. You can either walk on a nice trail from Boca del Drago to Playa Estrella or take a boat for $1.
I tried a little snorkeling at Starfish Beach, mainly to see what was around the mangroves.
One beach we really wanted to check out was Playa Bluff but we had a heck of a time finding out what the transport times were to get out there and back. After a few tries of standing around the square waiting for a minivan we finally made it on one that went out there. This beach is definitely worth visiting, we practically had it to ourselves! Although we couldn’t swim because of the rough sea we found the beach to be really pristine and beautiful.
On one of our final days we took a boat out to Isla Solarte to an over-the-water restaurant called Coconuts. The food was good and we lounged on the deck and did some nice snorkeling here. This was probably one of my favourite places to snorkel in Bocas del Toro.
One island we did visit that we would not recommend is Isla Carenero, it’s the closest island to Bocas Town. It was so dirty that I wasn’t inspired in the least bit to even take one photo and that’s pretty unusual for me!
We had a mixed bag of weather while in Bocas del Toro and I did read that it rains a lot. Thankfully we had 3 weeks and in that time we did have some really nice days. We enjoyed our time here and it’s an area worth visiting while in Panama but we wouldn’t retire here.
Enjoy our Bocas del Toro snorkel video
Where we stayed: Seafront Studio Bocas Town 👍