Posts Tagged 'Bocas del Toro'

Snorkeling in Bocas del Toro


Check out the rest of our underwater photos on flickr!


Starfish Beach

starfish beach

Located on the western side of Isla Colón, Boca del Drago is famed for its huge numbers of starfish.  Reachable by boat or collectivo from Bocas town, the beaches at Boca del Drago are almost entirely undeveloped.  Lacking restaurants and hotels, it’s not unusual to have long stretches of beach all to yourself.  The water is calm and clear, with large stretches of shallow pools that abruptly drop off into deeper waters.  With very few waves, they’re perfect for swimming and the palm-fringed, wilderness setting of the beaches combined with the hundreds of starfish along the coast is stunning. 


Red Frog Beach

red frog

Located on Isla Bastimentos, Red Frog Beach is home to the strawberry poison dart frog, a small red spotted frog that the local boys carry around frogand show to tourists in exchange for a quarter.  A 10-minute boat ride from Isla Colón, Isla Bastimentos is made up of mostly wilderness beaches.  The island’s southern coast falls within the boundaries of the Parque Nacional Marina Isla Bastimentos.  Nearly all of the island’s beaches remain virtually abandoned, though this is expected to change due to the fact that, despite local opposition, construction of a massive residential development project on the island is well underway.

Isla Colón, Bocas del Toro

Isla Colón

After brief stops in the towns of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca on Costa Rica’s southern Caribbean coast, we headed across the Costa Rica/ Panama border to the Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro, a group of six densely forested islands, scores of uninhabited islets and the oldest marine park in Panama.  Arriving at Isla Colón, the largest and most developed of the islands and Panama’s most popular tourist destination, we found that tourism in Panama, though in the midst of a major development boom, remains far less developed than in neighboring Costa Rica.  Instead, low-key development and the absence of mega-hotels and resorts have helped to preserve the unspoiled beauty of the archipelago.

Sharing the same name as the province and archipelago, the town of Bocas del Toro on the southern tip of Isla Colón has been our base for exploring the region.  A colorful town of wooden houses built by the United Fruit Company in the early 20th century, Bocas’ small-town charm, laid-back Caribbean vibe and spectacular natural setting are incredibly appealing.  We spent our first day in Bocas spotting dolphins and snorkeling along the archipelago’s extensive coral reef ecosystem before heading out to explore several of the other islands and beaches.  It hasn’t taken long for Bocas del Toro to become one of my favorite spots in all of Central America.