The Bocas Del Toro Archipelago consists of nine islands, 52 keys and some 200 tiny islets. The largest and most developed island is Colon Island, which is where the capital of the province, the town of Bocas Del Toro, is located. The total population of the archipelago is around 9,000 inhabitants, of whom roughly half live in the town of Bocas del Toro.
When visiting the islands of Bocas Del Toro, in Panama, you will know you are on a special vacation the very moment you arrive. No hassle for taxis. No long ride to town. No big city atmosphere. Visitors will have an immediate sense of the unspoiled and unpolluted aspects of mother nature, that are so very divine to us all!
The islands of Boca Del Toro are evolving rapidly from a backpackers’ destination into a more upscale resort area, so the sooner you get there, the less influenced the area will be by the outside world.
Bocas Del Toro has pristine white-sand beaches on the exposed Caribbean side, boat trips on the sheltered lagoon side and everywhere in between there are opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, diving and sunbathing. There's a large number of hotels, restaurants and facilities for eco-tourist adventurers to visit.
There are two ways to get to Bocas del Toro. The first is by road via the Inter American highway or via the Sixiaola (Limon), Costa Rica border crossing. The other way is to go by airplane with daily from Panama City, and other flights from David or Changuinola. Nature Air also has flights from San Jose, Costa Rica.
There is a wide range of differing peoples in Bocas. You're more likely to hear English spoken in Bocas del Toro, more so than anywhere else in Panama. The islands are the indigenous home of the Ngöbe-Buglé Indian people. Soon after came the Afro-Caribbean workers from the English-speaking islands of Jamaica, San Andrés, and Providencia to work on the banana plantations that prospered in the archipelago a century ago.
In recent years many Americans and Europeans are setting up home here. If you want to learn to speak Spanish, try one of the areas many Language Immersion Schools. Efforts are being made to preserve the wide streets and the wooden houses from the boom days of the banana plantations.
And while it may seem that everyone is in the real-estate business these days, the wildness of the undeveloped Caribbean is still to be found in plenty. Long-term ex-pats grumble that Bocas isn’t what it used to be, but to date the changes have been for the betterment of the area. Accommodations are still available for backpackers and surfers for five dollars and a meal can be had for a few dollars. But in addition more luxurious hotels and restaurants and vacation rentals have recently sprung up.
The first marine reserve in Panama was created in 1988, at the Bastimentos Island National Marine Park. It's a 33,000 acre park with stunning underwater scenery to be viewed either by snorkeling or scuba diving along the coral reefs. And to the north of Isla Colon is Swan Cay, a bird sanctuary with a variety of local and migratory species.
Four species of endangered sea turtles still visit the waters of Bocas, and the sea turtles come ashore in great numbers to lay their eggs on the north side of the islands and some stretches of the mainland coast in season.
Bocas biggest inconvenience is the rain, but it is part of a rainforest after all. It is one of the wettest regions in Panama. There is slightly less rain in the months of September/ October and February/ March. But even in the rainy season (December & July have the most rain) storms typically blow in and out, usually passing through the islands quickly.