Bocas del Toro is a Caribbean paradise consisting of different islands just off the coast of Panama. It’s only a short trip from Costa Rica and a great place to explore for Eco Travelers. The islands offer a lot of nature, wildlife, great Caribbean vibes, and time to relax away from traffic and cities.
In this blog post, we share our favorite places in Bocas del Toro, all you need to know before visiting, and five reasons why it’s a must-visit for Eco Travelers.
Best time to visit Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro has very unpredictable weather and no fixed dry season like other tropical destinations. We visited in October and had great weather with a mix of clouds and sun and a little bit of rain. Apparently, the dryest months are January, February, March, September, and October. But Bocas del Toro can be visited all year round. Often the rainier months have fewer visitors and still offer enjoyable weather. And who doesn’t love some tropical rain!?
How to get to Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is an archipelago consisting of different islands. They can be reached from a town called Almirante by boat. Official boat taxis are running between Almirante and Colon, the main Island. If you stay on another island, your accommodation can usually arrange private boat transportation for you or you can find a boat form Colon to get you to your final destination.
Almirante is about an hour drive from the Costa Rican border. So it’s a popular thing for travelers in Costa Rica to make a trip to Bocas del Toro. Especially if you want to stay longer than three months in the country, you can renew your vista with this trip. There are buses available from Puerto Viejo to Almirante and back.
Besides that Bocas del Toro has an airport and can be reached by flight from Panama City or San Jose for example.
5 Reasons why Eco Travelers love Bocas del Toro
Stay off-grid at Isla San Christobal
If you want to explore Bocas del Toro off the beaten path, you must stay on Isla San Christobal. This lush and untouched paradise offers the most unique stays. We stayed at Finca Montezuma, a Chocolate farm that the sweetest family runs. We had a lovely and simple overwater bungalow with many hammocks to chill in. We highly recommend this place to all Eco Travelers that want to connect with nature. Isla San Christobal offers hiking, Kanu rides in Dolphin bay, and a lot of relaxation.
Go on a Permaculture farm tour in Bastimentos
For Eco Travelers who want to stay closer to the main Island Colon, where all the restaurants and bars are, we recommend staying at Isla Bastimentos. It’s only a 5 min boat taxi ride away but offers colorful Caribbean vibes, jungle hikes, lonely beaches, and a lot of nature.
On Isla Bastimentos, you can find “Up in the Hill” a Permaculture and Chocolate farm that offers daily tours. We had the best chocolate brownie of our life here, and the owner is lovely. If you want to learn more about Permaculture, we recommend going on a tour here.
Sloths have their own Island in Bocas del Toro
Believe it or not, in Bocas del Toro, Sloths have their own private Island. You can visit the Island on any boat tour from Colon. You can only watch the sloths from the boat. We could observe three beautiful sloths during our trip. It was a beautiful experience, and even if we have seen sloths before, it felt special to visit them on their Island.
Spend a day at the raw and wild Isla Zapatilla
In Bocas del Toro, you can find the most beautiful and wild Island called Zapatilla. We went on a private boat tour and spent most of our day on this Island. The Island is uninhabited and has a palm tree forest with the tallest palms we have ever seen. Pristine white-sand beaches and turquoise water. It’s the ultimate paradise and can’t be missed when visiting Bocas del Toro. Just make sure to leave no trash behind to keep this paradise clean.
Watch bottlenose dolphins in Dolphin Bay
Where to eat in Bocas del Toro
Leaf Eaters Cafe
Leaf Eaters Cafe is a Vegan / Vegetarian Overwater Restaurant, and it is located on Isla Carenero, just a short boat ride from the main island Colon. They offer Paninis, Bowls, Tacos, Burgers, and much more.
Our personal favorite in Colon. Amaranto has a good selection of vegan options. We loved the Quinoa Bowl with pesto.
Coco Hill is a fully vegan restaurant and hotel on Bastimentos Island. We stayed here and loved this jungly place. They have a Permaculture farm and cute bungalows with jungle views.
Cute Mexican-style restaurant in the center of Colon town. Outdoor seating and lovely staff. Great selection of juices, Vegan options of Tacos, and bowls.
These are our expenses while visiting Bocas del Toro; this gives an idea for a budget to visit this paradise.
- Boat Taxi Ride from Almirante to Colon: 6 USD per person one way
- Boat Taxi between Islands: 2.50 USD per person one way
- Food: 35 USD for a meal for two people
- Accommodation in a Bungalow: 50-60 USD per night
- Boat tour: 30 USD per person for a shared tour / 150 USD for a private tour
How to get around in Bocas del Toro
You can hop on a boat taxi to get around in Bocas del Toro. It’s cheap and effortless and the only way to get around between the islands. The Islands themselves are small and don’t have any roads for cars (except Isla Colon), so walking is the way to get around. But isn’t that the favorite way to get around for Eco Travelers?
To be honest, before we visited Bocas del Toro, we were unsure if it would be for us. We thought it might be too touristy for our taste and did not have very high expectations. But we fell in love with these islands and realized our image was wrong. It is very well possible to explore the islands off the beaten path and be immersed in nature. The touristy and busy part restricts to only the main Island Colon. The rest of Bocas del Toro has a lot of farm stays, Permaculture, wildlife, and nature. So we think it’s a must-visit for all Eco Travelers.