That was a fun trip, and we’re definitely interested in going back again!
The town is interesting, unlike anything else I’ve seen in Panama. There is a strong Caribbean influence, and a ton of tourists. It reminds me of Key West, Florida a lot but it’s even funkier, more “anything goes” atmosphere. The locals live in much more basic conditions. I heard more English than I’ve ever heard in Panama, and Spanish, Italian, German, and a variety of other languages. I’m used to mostly brown people, but in Bocas there are dark black to pale white people, and everything in between. It is known as a party town and though we heard about goings on into the night, we didn’t hear them ourselves thanks to a quiet hotel.
The area in general, the beaches, water, islands etc was spectacular! The water is warm, very clear, and beautiful. The snorkeling and coral was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and I absolutely love the beaches. The ones we visited were on the edge of beautiful forests and that feels nice, rather than the wide expanses of sand with the sun beating down on you that I remember in Florida.
We were told not to drink the water so we were careful. I didn’t think when I ordered a smoothie from a street vendor that this might be a bad idea (as well as overpriced!) I think this is the most likely culprit for my thankfully fairly minor and short lived problems. So, if you visit be careful of all water, including ice. My husband, who didn’t get a smoothie, had no problems.
As for packing and what we brought, or wished we had brought – Sunscreen!! Even with frequent liberal applications and cloudy days, I got a bit pink.
Umbrella – it rains quite a bit in the area, and you might get caught wishing you had one.
Plastic bags – I was thankful I brought plenty of zip lock bags for wallets, cell phones, cameras, etc. because we got soaked going out in the boat in the rain.
Beach shoes, or flip flops, or something you can wear in the water as well as on land, get wet, get sandy, etc without worry.
Clothes – enough that when yours get soaked you have a couple sets of dry clothes. Casual is good. Many people were in town with beach wraps over bathing suits, or shorts and casual shirts.
Beach towels – I would bring a couple per person if you have room, so when one is soaked you have a dry one standing by.
Sweater or light blanket for travel if you are taking the bus. When they turn on the AC it can be a bit cool, especially if you are acclimated to hot weather and no AC like we are.
So, what did this excursion cost us? $439.07
Hotel – $181.50
Bus – $33.80 (round trip from David, 2 people)
Taxi – $4 (from bus to water taxi, both ways, 2 people)
Water taxis – $28 (to and from Almirante, and a couple island hops)
Boat excursion – $50 (dolphin bay, snorkeling, beach, out most of the day for 2 people)
Restaurants – $124.35
Snacks – $21.42 (fruit, soda, water, cookies, rum)
There is a lot to be said for a hostel with a community kitchen if you are trying to cut costs. Hostels are cheaper and avoiding restaurants saves money. But, for us, we are happy with the trip. We almost never eat out at home so having someone else cook for us was nice, and I think a quiet hotel was well worth a little more money.
So, I think now I’m finished with all the news on our trip to Bocas del Toro. It’s time to come up with another adventure! We already have one in mind for this week 🙂