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Without question, Bocas Del Toro is one of the most interesting places I’ve visited. Located on the Caribbean coast of Panama, this collection of 9 islands features the best of the sea, jungle, rainforest, nightlife, and relaxation you could ask for. This post will cover the best things to do in Bocas Del Toro, Panama.
From the party atmosphere of Bocas Town to the serenity of Red Frog Beach, Bocas Del Toro is packed with fun things to do! To make sure this guide had as many interesting Bocas Del Toro attractions as possible, I reached out to some travel blogger friends to get their suggestions for what to do in Bocas Del Toro also! Pack your snorkel gear, we’re heading to the Caribbean!
Top Things To do In Bocas Del Toro, Panama
Explore Red Frog Beach
Red Frog Beach is a small strip of white sand beach surrounded by jungle on the island of Bastimentos. Red Frog Beach is the perfect place to go for a swim in the clear Caribbean waters or relax with a book.
After you’ve had enough sun and sand, you can explore the Red Frog Nature Reserve. Named for the poison dart frogs that inhabit the island, this rainforest is rich with natural wonders. You can see so much wildlife from the many walking paths that cut through the jungle. If you look carefully, you might even see one of the rare poison dart frogs.
My top tip for seeing the red frogs for which the island is named? There’s a trail that connects the Selina Red Frog to Red Frog Beach. Follow the signs to Selina Red Frog and ask at reception for the trail to the beach. Along this trail, we saw at least one dart frog every day! That experience alone made exploring Red Frog one of my top Bocas Del Toro things to do.
To get to Red Frog Beach, take one of the water taxis to the Red Frog Marina on the island of Bastimentos. You’ll exit the marina by passing through the lobby of a resort. Follow the main road away from the resort and into the rainforest. When you get to the fork in the road, you can either go right for a more direct path to the beach or go left and follow the signs for Selina to take the Selina trail.
Take A Zapatilla Island Day Trip
If you’re looking for a fun day tour to go on while visiting Bocas Del Toro then head over to the Zapatilla Islands. Located in Panama’s Bastimentos Island National Marine Park, these two islands look like they came straight out of a postcard.
As they are only accessible by boat the best way to visit is to join a day tour from Isla Colón, the main island in Bocas Del Toro.
It takes about 30 minutes to reach the islands from Isla Colón. The ride is scenic and dolphins are frequently seen along the way. Once on the island, you have free time to soak up this tropical paradise.
It’s an ideal spot for snorkeling, with beautiful coral reefs right off the beach. Otherwise, you can just relax on the gorgeous white-sand beaches or head inland to explore the jungle.
On the way back, most tours will finish with a stop at sloth island, where you can spot sloths in the trees. It’s a great day trip that makes for a day full of adventure!
Go Whale Watching
By Wildlife Expert Niels Roskott from Whale Watching Tromso
Bocas del Toro has been known for being the most popular whale-watching location in Panama. The beautiful crystal clear water and sunny weather are the perfect recipe to encounter so local aquatic wildlife.
When planning your whale watching tour make sure you book your safari between the months of July till October. This 4-month period is the high season to spot migrating Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). If you want to get this unique “Whale Tail” photo shot, this season will give you the biggest opportunity.
If you are lucky you might even spot a Humpback baby whale!
Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncates) can be spotted year-round but larger groups can be spotted during the summer months.
When booking a tour, always check with the tour operator if they have an environmentally friendly vessel and put animal welfare as their first priority. Keeping a good distance from the pods is important to protect the animals, obey the law, and conserve local wildlife.
You also want to buy waterproof clothing and purchase some sea-sick tablets at the local pharmacy. The weather can change quickly at Bocas del Toro, therefore a good preparation is needed to avoid being soaked or getting a bit fuzzy because of the waves.
Explore the Islands by Catamaran
By: Bistra from the Magic of Traveling
Our favorite experience in Boca del Toro was sailing on a catamaran for a day to explore the islands. We sailed away from the capital – Bocas Town. Our captain had to turn on the engines as there was no wind, but we could still feel and enjoy the serenity and the tranquility of Bocas del Toro.
We passed the Dolphin Bay, looking for jumping dolphins, and had a stop at Coral Gardens to snorkel. The underwater world was so amazing – sea stars, corals, and even purple jellyfish (they didn’t sting at all).
We had a tasty lunch on the catamaran, enjoyed some sun and chilled on the deck. We learned a few tricks on how to operate a catamaran and totally immersed ourselves in the tiny blue waves. On our way back to the bustling Bocas Town, we realized we hadn’t noticed the day passed. What a nice sailing experience!
Take a Surfing Lesson in Bocas Del Toro
By: Christin Theilig
As somebody who loves the ocean trying to surf was naturally on my bucket list. Bocas del Toro is an excellent choice for everybody looking for a consistent swell, quality reefs, safe conditions, and budget-friendly options.
Due to various beginner-friendly surf breaks, Bocas makes an ideal place to try it out. While staying on Isla Carenero, I went on a half-day lesson with Mono Loco Surf School and was super happy with the experience.
A surfing lesson will begin with an introduction right on the beach. You usually cover the basics such as sea safety, surfing awareness, the right paddle techniques, how to stand up, etc. With the board under one arm, it’s finally time to go out to the reef.
The instructor(s) are telling you when to start paddling and are nice enough to give you a little push to be able to catch the wave and stand up. It’s really one of the best feelings when you caught a wave, addictive even!
The best months are from November to February with a mini-season in June/July and a half-day surf lessons start from as little as $45 US.
Experience The Nightlife In Bocas Town, Isla De Colon
Bocas Town is a great place to do some shopping, admire the adorable over-water buildings, and of course, enjoy some nightlife.
Known for having some of the best nightlife in Panama, Bocas Del Toro is a spot where you can let your hair down on a night out, if you’re so inclined.
Many of the travelers we met in other parts of Panama reflected fondly on booze cruises like the famous Filthy Friday, live music, and just general late-night shenanigans in the islands. If you’re wondering what to do in Bocas Del Toro, Panama, you might not need to look much farther than the lively Bocas Town.
Visit Drago and Starfish Beach
Bocas del Drago, or Drago Beach, is a picture-perfect stretch of beach on Isla Colon. From Drago Beach, you can take a short ride on a $1 water taxi to the even more secluded Starfish Beach. Starfish Beach, as you can probably imagine, gets its name because of how many starfish can be seen in its waters.
You can get to Drago Beach in several ways.
- Hire a taxi to take you there and back at a prearranged time (it might be hard to call at taxi when you’re there since Drago is a bit outside of town).
- Take a water taxi if you want to take a more scenic route
- Catch the bus from town
- Rent bikes in Bocas Town and ride there. It’s about 11 miles so make sure to allow yourself plenty of time and bring water
There are a few shops and restaurants at Drago Beach if you want to grab a bite to eat. Starfish Beach is more remote so it’s a good idea to bring some snacks and water.
See the Plastic Bottle Village
The Plastic Bottle Village is a project run by Robert Bezeau who decided to do something about all the plastic bottle waste he was seeing. He now uses millions of bottles to build full-size structures that guests can visit – and even stay in!
To experience this unique and important sustainability project for yourself, check out their website for open hours and tour times. A must-see in Bocas Del Toro Panama!
Relax on Wizard Beach
Looking for chilled-out beach vibes? Head to Wizard Beach on the island of Bastimentos. To get here, take a water taxi to the main part of Bastimentos town called Old Bank. You’ll follow a path across the island to Wizard Beach. It should take about half an hour to get there.
Wizard Beach is pretty secluded and doesn’t have any infrastructure, so make sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and anything else you’ll need to enjoy this remote piece of paradise.
Take a Chocolate Tour
It’s not too hard to convince me to take a chocolate tour! When visiting Bocas Del Toro, make sure to check out the Oreba Chocolate Tour from Bocas Town. With almost a 5 star average rating on Trip Advisor, this tour will leave you and your sweet tooth happy!
Enjoy a guided hike through the jungle to see different cacao farms and tropical wildlife. The Oreba Chocolate Tour includes lunch and a knowledgable guide who covers the production process from cultivation to final product.
Heading To Bocas Del Toro, Panama?
Check out hotel and hostel listings on booking.com to find deals all around Bocas Del Toro! My personal favorite spot to call home for a few days is Selina Red Frog. It’s the perfect combination of relaxation and natural beauty, but it’s only a ten-minute boat ride to the buzz of the main city. You can check out my full Selina Red Frog Review here.
Here are a few other top suggestions for places to stay in Bocas Del Toro!
- Bird Island Bungalows: Rooms at Bird Island Bungalows are clean, cute, and extremely highly reviewed. If you want to be close to the action but also surrounded by nature, this is a great choice.
- Divers Paradise Boutique Hotel: This is the Bocas Del Toro hotel for you if you want to be close to the water. All you have to do is walk out onto the sundeck and you’ll be right over the sea. Great if you want to do any water sports or learn to Scuba Dive in Bocas Del Toro.
- Tropical Suites Hotel: Tropical Suites Hotel has ocean views for days! With rooms right on the water and excellent reviews, this central location has it all.
Planning a trip to Panama?
Head to Booking.com or Agoda.com for the best deals on places to stay in Panama. You can also click the links to read about my favorite places to stay in Bocas Del Toro, Playa Venao, and Panama City.
Check out these Panama travel blog posts for travel inspiration and tips!
You can also see the full list of things to do in Panama here!