Bocas del Toro is a province on the Caribbean side of Panama but when someone says “Bocas” what comes to mind is usually is the Bocas del Toro district and the islands. It’s a beautiful area with clear, warm, turquoise water, many islands with lush vegetation and sandy beaches, and opportunities for many recreational activities. The center of activities is Bocas Town on Isla Colon (Colon Island). It can be reached by air from Panama City or by water taxi from Almirante.
The town is a tourist destination so there are many hotels, hostels, restaurants, shops, and businesses offering excursions and activities. English is widely spoken, and you are likely to see people of every color and many nationalities. There is a very relaxed “anything goes” feel in town. You can dress however you like and ride your bicycle down the middle of main street without a care.
There are buildings and houses of every sort (though the fancy places tend to be a bit outside of town). What interests me and my camera though are the more funky and interesting places, so I set out with my camera for a walk around town.
There was a private house next to our hotel. There were many people there coming and going, and I’m guessing that some of them were in the business of taking tourists around in boats. At night there were often three or four boats tied up at this dock.
This is the front of the house next door.
All day the kids would play out at the end of the dock and in any boats tied at the dock.
We came across a dirt pile near where some construction had gone on. A closer look revealed a bunch of these blue crabs living there!
There is a fair amount of rain in this area so the cemetery had plenty of green along with the many flowering trees.
One of the many interesting houses. I like the weathered wood.
A bunch of vultures were very interested in something in the ditch. (We didn’t see anything though, so who knows what it was)
This pretty bird was also fishing in the ditch.
How much house do you really need?
Check out the kettle on the open fire outside on the sidewalk.
What interesting tile work on this house
Many houses are built up off the ground. I imagine it’s cooler and away from the ground water on rainy days.
This was behind a house, probably just a shed
I think these are breadfruit. We have jackfruit here which are similar but bumpy, and these fruits are smooth. There were quite a few trees in town but I didn’t see the fruit for sale. One of these days I want to try it.
One of the many shops, this one full of hammocks and bags, among other things.
Heading towards the park and center of town.
There were some Kuna Indians selling molas and other items.
These guys were selling guaba, a big hard bean sort of fruit. If you crack it open though, there is a delicious sweet fruit around the beans.
These are occupied houses. The one on the right has some interesting painting on the outside.
What do you need to get by?
This is the bike shop where we rented our bikes. They also have a great selection of bike accessories. I bought a new seat for my own bike.
You can stay at this hostel and rent the tree house here.
The work looked very good on this new house. Check out the ladder though. I would probably break something trying to get up there on that!
A waterfront home not far from our hotel.
There is a small strip of land that connects the town to the rest of the island, and we saw a number of these houses in that area. The building on the right is a church.
We may think the houses look funky, but look at the view from there!
This is the end of my stories and photos from Bocas. Next, we were on to Rambala and the jungle for more unique and interesting experiences!
About Kris Cunningham
We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
Hello Chris, sounds like you are having a great time visiting Panama. We were just looking at this city and wondering how the water was for snorkeling. Did you go in the water at all, is it nice to swim in? We will be in Panama shortly, the 13th of June. Can’t wait to see some new places around David.
I went snorkeling on a previous trip and it was the most beautiful snorkeling I’ve ever seen! There were starfish that looked like long legged spiders and coral in a variety of vivid colors, and lots of fish. It was amazing and if you go, get one of those boat tours that will take you to a good snorkel spot. The water is beautifully clear and lovely for swimming.
oh, how this makes me miss bocas even more! i need to get back there next year ASAP.
I know, it’s such a unique and beautiful place!
Oh my goodness I can’t wait to come!
(New email address now 🙂
Glad I could get you all excited 😀
Kris, what really struck me while there, is since there are no hurricanes like here in Florida, is how close they could build flimsy structures to the water. Just inches above the water, lots of stuff that would have been blown away years ago if here. I find the town ramshackle and not very attractive. I do agree with you that the water is absolutely beautiful!
No, no hurricanes which is really nice. If this town was in Florida I wonder if any of it would survive. The town is very funky, I agree, and many people don’t have a lot of money. But that doesn’t seem to stop them from having relaxed and happy lives.
Do you think this would be a nice area to live Kris? Or better for visiting 🙂
For me, no. It’s just a funky little town and I’m a city gal. I want shopping, health care, and everything a city has to offer close by. But if you want a quiet rural / beach life in a beautiful area it certainly is that.