BOCAS DEL TORO VISITOR INFORMATION
Panama Travel Group - travel and tourism agency
Sendero Panama - custom designed tours and programs
How to get to Bocas Del Toro:
From San Jose, Costa Rica, fly Nature Air
WEATHER WEBSITES (long range forecasts are unpredictible):
BOAT TOURS IN BOCAS:
There are tour operators that will take you to outer islands, such as Zapatilla, which is a tropical island out of a postcard, protected by the National Park Service, with a white-sand beach that rings the island, so you can walk all the way around the island.
Water taxis are available at Taxi 25 and Bocas Marine Tours.
ACTIVITIES IN BOCAS:
Educational tour of an organic cacao farm on the mainland
Mono Loco Surfing `& ` Bocas Surf School
Cave Tour - Spelunking
Open house at the Smithsonian Institute's Tropical Research Station
Learn Spanish with certified teachers at Habla Ya Spanish School or go to Spanish by the Sea
PERSONAL PHOTO SHOOT WITH LAURA KAY
If you are interested in a professional photo shoot with Laura Kay, please CLICK HERE for more information
(if you are chartering a boat, a photo shoot is something we can combine that day, getting to pristine photo locations in privacy)
Tropix Surf Shop, makes custom boards, located on Main Street, Bocas Town. Owned and operated by the legendary surfing family of Juan Caraballo!
Super Deportes - sells surf shoes, clothing and hot bikinis.
LODGING IN BOCAS:
Cocomo on the Sea Bed & Breakfast - Starting at $65/night. Waterfront, Avenida Norte & 6th Street, Bocas Town. Caribbean style. Guests are made to feel welcome and at home. There are only 4 rooms, providing a nice homey, intimate feel to the place. There is a large, beautiful tropical garden. Cocomo is in town, but away from downtown so it's quieter. Each room has a queen-sized bed, as well as a twin bed so you can sleep up to 3 people. The best thing about this place is the large veranda and deck over the water. It's huge and has lounge chairs and hammocks so you can sit and read from their library while humming birds buzz around. A great place to just sit and chill in privacy and watch the boats go by. The veranda has a large dining table on it, making it the perfect place for their huge complimentary breakfast in the mornings. If you have dietary requests, tell them at check-in. Rooms have AC. Prices are very reasonable for what you get! I love it when family & friends stay here, because I like to go there and hang out on the water, plus, it's so conveniently located, within walking distance of the Bocas Yoga studio. The owner of Cocomo also owns an organic coffee farm in Boquete, so you know there will always be plenty of excellent coffee on hand. You can buy some to take back to the States, which makes a great present. Having a private dock at this bed & breakfast is also convenient for being picked up/dropped off by boat. Kayaks are available for guests to use for free. Laundry service is available.
Hotel Lula's Bed & Breakfast - Starting at $50/night. Right across the street from Cocomo. A great place to stay, at an excellent price. It's in a nice location too, in a quieter part of Bocas Town. Near the water, and within easy walking distance of the Bocas Yoga studio. The owners are very hospitable and make you feel welcome. There's free Wi-fi. Air-conditioned rooms, and a book exchange. Clean rooms. Breakfast included. Very convenient is the surf school right there!
Hotel Bocas Del Toro - Upscale rooms from $160 to $270/night. Located waterfront, downtown Bocas Town. A premier boutique hotel, offers a unique blend of simple elegance and historical ambiance of Caribbean exotic wood craftsmanship with the sparkling sea beneath. Nicely appointed with wood and nautical furnishings the 11 room hotel offers the concept of comfort with 400-thread count cotton sheets, WI-FI , Flat Screen cable TV, air conditioning, telephones, coffee makers, ocean & town balcony views, ocean kayak rentals and in-room massage. Luxury accomodation within easy walking distance of the Bocas Yoga studio!
Royale Hotel & Suites - From $80 to $290/night. Bocas Town's
newest and most luxurious hotel. The suites have full kitchens and ocean balcony
views. Within easy walking distance of Bocas Yoga studio. A/C, Satellite flat-screen
TV, free wi-fi.
There are many hotels and resorts in Bocas. I've only listed my favorite above. Click here for a full-listing of hotels. It's my preference to stay in town, and make excursions out. There are plenty of resorts located in remote areas, but the logistics of getting into town if you want to shop, eat, check email, go to the yoga studio, or see other people, can be very challenging. It's much more pleasant to stay in town with its conveniences, such as being close to the yoga studio, Internet cafés, water-taxis, shopping, and restaurants, then making excursions out for your adventures.
Hostels - If you're looking for a small private room at a cheap price, try or Hostel Hansi. The most popular hostel in Bocas del Toro, with the backpacking/surfing crowd is the infamous party-spot Mondo Taitu in Bocas Town, right around the corner from the Bocas Yoga studio. There are also Hostel Heike and Tungara Hostel convenitently located on Main Street.
RESTAURANTS IN BOCAS:
Om Café, Avenida E & 2nd Street, Bocas Town. Breakfast and dinner only. Closed Wednesdays. Yes, Bocas has an Indian restaurant! This is a great place to go to get that Indian food fix, which since traveling to India I find I want more and more of. Both veggie and meat dishes are served. As with other Indian restaurants, I recommend getting the Thali so you get a variety of dishes and flavors. When mangos are in season make sure to get the mango lassi. The Chai tea is yummy too. Om has a nice ambience, with groovy, chilled-out, down-tempo electronic music. They also have a balcony to sit on to catch the evening tropical breezes.
El Pecado - A Bocas favorite on Main Street. An eclectic menu of many world foods, plus gourmet pizza. Very vegetarian friendly! The Sopa Thailandesa (Thai soup) is not to be missed! Sit outside for prime people watching. Look for the airplane guy. Open breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Closed Mondays.
La Casbah - Mediterranean Food. Intimate restaurant, open air dining, nice music. Good for people watching. Goat cheese salad, gazpacho, falafel, and pasta are vegetarian options. Catty-corner to the Bocas Yoga studio. The chef will make you a plate of sauteed veggies, which is not on the menu. He's very willing to accomodate and please and the food is delicious!
El Ultimo Refugio, 100 meters past the ferry dock, Bocas Town. Dinner only. Closed Sundays & Mondays. Waterfront. One of Bocas' most popular restaurants with the hip crowd, with wonderfully creative chefs creating a different menu every night. They have no problem making something special for you if you tell them you're a vegetarian. I usually get a big salad (which usually has eclectic things on it like roasted beets), hummus, and then order sides of their home-made mashed potatoes and sautéed veggies. They often have live music after 8:00 p.m., and it's a nice atmosphere because it's right on the water. The artist who painted the artwork on the walls of this restaurant is the same artist who painted the groovy murals at the Bocas Yoga Studio.
Lili's Café, 1st Street, Bocas Town. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner. Closed Sundays. Home of Lili's famous "Killin' Me Man" Hot Sauce! Lili is a beautiful creature, and an outgoing character with a smile to match. She grows her own vegetables and only prepares food to order. Good food takes time. They recently built a new shaded deck to accommodate more tables right over the water. It's fun to watch the boats come and go, over the clear water, while you eat. Lili's has a menu with variety, including Panamanian dishes (which are mostly meat). But she does have a Veggie-Special sandwich, hummus, and a Steamed Veggie plate. Her home-made, herb garlic bread is astounding. Fresh juices and fruit salads are also good here. Lili's is also the only place in town that has freshly brewed iced-tea. For some reason all other restaurants serve iced-tea from a nasty mix. Whatever you drink, always ask for fresh limes, which are succulent (say "con limon" when ordering). You can buy bottles of Lili's home-made "Killin' Me Man" Hot Sauce here to take home with you, which makes a great gift for family and friends.
Guari-Guari - Isla Colón. Dinner by reservation only. About 2 kilometers outside of Bocas Town. You can take a taxi there. This is a great restaurant with a gourmet chef. If you are vegetarian you must call at least one day in advance so they can prepare for you. They offer a pre-fix 5 course meal. Each course is more impressive than the last. The restaurant is across the street from a beach. Bring OFF bug spray with you though, as this particular spot has an abundance of "no see ums", but OFF should repel them. Service is impeccable. Call 6627-1825 for reservations.
The Reef - Before the ferry dock, Main Street, Bocas Town. Lunch, Dinner. Well, there's not much vegetarian food here except for a basic salad and the standard Panamanian snack "patacones" which are fried plantains. But, if you, or your traveling companions are not vegetarian and want freshly caught seafood, this is the place to go. It's on the waterfront and is a place where locals go to eat. They have a famous seafood soup and seafood salad, as well as other specialties.
Yarisnori - Boca del Drago, Isla Colón. Lunch. Closed Tuesdays. This restaurant is right on the beach of Boca del Drago, which is on the other end of Isla Colón. It's 14 kilometers from Bocas Town, but is a beautiful ride/drive through jungle area of the island. If you rent a bike or a quad, this is a fun trip to make. If you're on a bike, it does go up and down hills, so it's not necessarily an easy ride. Taxis and buses also go there daily. Eating right on the beach is peaceful. It's fun to play with your toes in the sand while eating your meal and gaze out at the ocean. If you are vegetarian, they have a plate of side dishes, which includes a basic salad, coconut rice with black beans, patacones (fried plantains), and sautéed vegetables, which are pretty good. If you're not vegetarian, they have freshly caught seafood here, as well as other carnivorous dishes.
A note about restaurants in Bocas. Many restaurants add a 10% gratuity onto the bill, but some don't. Check the bill ("la cuenta") to see if the 10% tip is on there, in addition to the tax. I like to add another 10% tip on top of that, making it a 20% tip. The very minimum tip should be 15%. Ice in restaurants is fine to drink. Water is by bottle only. As with most things in Bocas things are done in their own sweet time. There is no fast food here, thankfully, and no corporate chain restaurants either. Good food is worth waiting for and also teaches you to slow down and just sit, breath deeply while watching the boats go by, or the eclectic assortment of characters walk by. For some reason waiters typically won't bring you your check unless you ask for it. So, when you know you're done, just say, "La Cuenta, Por Favor" (the check, please). There are also many fresh produce stands in Bocas if you want to take fresh tropical fruits back to your room to snack on.
Island Traders - 1st Street, Bocas Town. High quality gifts to take home for friends and family. Sarongs, towels, jewery, clothing, art-work, decorations, furnishings, all with a smile of a lovely staff. Good energy, family owned business.
(even if you don't drink alcohol, these places can be fun for live music appreciation or dancing to a DJ)
La Iguana Surf Club- Waterfront. This is a favorite of the surfer crowd. Lots of reggae music and good vibes. It's a bit small, so dancing is limited, but a cool place to hang out. People usually go here first in their night, then onto the Barco later. I'm home reading or sleeping.
Mondo Taitu - This is a lively bar that's located in Bocas' most popular hostel. People all over the world seem to know about the Mondo Taitu. The back-packer/surfer crowd stays at the hostel and hangs out here. Everyone is welcome. The bar has theme nights (such as '80's night, etc.) and encourages sing-alongs. The Mondo Taitu is just around the corner from the Bocas Yoga studio.
Aqua Lounge - Isla Caranero. Waterfront. Open day and night. This is a cool lounge & hostel right over the water, on a different island than Bocas Town. It's just a short water-taxi ride to the Aqua Lounge from Bocas Town. Water taxi rates vary, but it's probably around a dollar for a ride to get here. The lounge has wooden decks over the water and also has a water trampoline for the adventurous. Swimming is encouraged here. It's perfectly normal to go to this lounge in your bikini. There's an outdoor shower to rinse off after swimming.
If you want to go to dance where the local Bocateranians dance, the authenic hang-out is the waterfront El Encanto, on Main Street, where there is a lively jukebox of the local's favorite songs.
The two largest grocery stores in town are called Super Isla Colon and Zapatilla, both on Main Street. There are plenty of small grocery stores sprinkled around town. The closest grocery store to Cocomo is the Super Hawaii market.
The only farmacia in town is called Rosa Blanca and is located on Main Street. The pharmacist speaks English.
Mailboxes, Etc. - Next to the fire station on Avenida F.
Bravo Center - Main Street, between Avenidas B & C.
Don Chico Internet - Main Street.