Bocas Del Toro, Panama

January – March 2024

HIGHLIGHTS

    

Get Your Bearings

Welcome to the tropical paradise of Bocas del Toro, Panama. Nestled in the northwest corner of Panama, Bocas del Toro is a stunning archipelago known for its lush rainforests, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant culture. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply looking to unwind on pristine beaches, Bocas del Toro has something to offer every traveler.

Each of the islands of Bocas del Toro has its own unique appeal. Sun-seekers are transfixed by the stunning beaches, laid-back Caribbean vibes, and modern, healthy restaurants. Travel between the islands of Isla Colon, Isla Bastimentos, Isla Carenero, and Isla Solarte are quick and easy. Whether you’re interested in adventure, relaxation, or experiencing the natural beauty and vibrant culture of the region, island hopping is a great way to explore and discover this stunning archipelago in Panama.

Isla Colón

The main island and the most developed in the archipelago. It’s home to the town of Bocas del Toro, which is the cultural and economic hub of the region. Isla Colón offers a wide range of accommodations, restaurants, bars, and shops and a great base for exploring the other islands in the archipelago.

Things To Do

Isla Parájos

This small island off the north end of Colón is a migratory bird sanctuary for many species of tropical birds. Most people never venture out to this point but it is quite a beautiful, lush island with inlets into the side of the rugged rock face of the island.

Quad / ATV Trails

Rent a quad from Flying Pirates for the day, then you can go to the Blue Lagoon, La Piscina and take the quads over the designated quad trails in the jungle. Flying Pirates rents most of the land on this end of the island and has created a network of trails specifically for you to take your quad on. The trails are pretty rugged and so it’s not just cruising around on a quad—you will be going up and down over roots, through mud, and through rivers.

Finca Botanical Gardens

This is an extensive piece of land owned by one lady who has been running and caring for it for years. She occasionally does tours of the garden where you can see tons of native flora and fauna of Bocas. Tours last an hour and are free to the public. You have a very good chance of seeing howler monkeys, capuchins, sloths, poison dart frogs, and occasionally an anteater or agouti.

The Floating Bar

The name says it all. It’s a bar, and it’s floating. This cute little bar is located just outside the Bocas Marina on its own platform. They serve up delicious tacos and drinks all day and into night time. They have an upper deck, chairs to chill on, noodles to swim with, a platform for jumping off of, and plenty of sun. Bring a snorkel and mask and you can swim to the nearby mangroves and shipwreck of The Southern Wind. You will probably see more starfish here than at Starfish Beach. This is a great place to hang out with friends and get some sun during the day, and then watch the sunset over some beer and tacos.

Isla Bastimentos

Although it’s just a 10-minute boat ride from the town of Bocas del Toro, Isla Bastimentos is like a different world. Some travelers say this is their favorite island in their favorite part of Panama. The northwest coast of the island is home to palm-fringed beaches that serve as nesting grounds for sea turtles, while most of the northern and southern coasts consist of mangrove islands and coral reefs that lie within the boundaries of the Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos.

Things To Do

Bat Cave (Cueva Nívída)

Nívida in the native Ngäbe-Buglé language means bat. This bat cave experience is best with a guide who takes us on a kayak through the mangroves, followed by a rainforest hike, pointing out local fauna including hummingbirds and bright red dart frogs. Upon entering the cave we hike through with hundreds of bats and ancient stalactites and stalgamtites.

Up In The Hill Coffee and Cacao Farm

This organic cacao farm is nestled up in the jungle in the middle of Bastimentos. It is a super cute cafe that serves coffee, cacao drinks, wraps, veggie burgers, and amazing banana cake. They also sell coconut oil, coconut oil products, cacao products, and beeswax products for all sorts of uses—moisturizer, shampoo, bug spray, etc. Besides being a cute cafe to hang out at, they also do tours of the farm and explain the process of growing cacao and turning it into cocoa powder and other products.

Red Frog Beach

Red Frog is a long stretch of beach on the eastern side of Isla Bastimentos. Unlike other beaches on Bastimentos, there are many hotels, hostels and restaurants scattered along Red Frog Beach. There is also a chance to surf at Red Frog depending on the swell. This is a great beach to spend the day in the sun and water, with the opportunity to walk to a restaurant and grab a smoothie or a bite to eat. Along the trail to Red Frog Beach we’re sure to encounter some sloths in their natural habitat.

Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park

Established in 1988, this 132-sq-km marine park was Panama’s first. Protecting 130 islands of the Bocas del Toro archipelago, including the coral-fringed Cayos Zapatillas, and the wetlands in the center of Isla Bastimentos, the marine park is an important nature reserve for mangroves, monkeys, sloths, caimans, crocodiles and 28 species of amphibians and reptiles.

There are tours that can take you to the indigenous community of Quebrada de Sal (Salt Creek) where you then take a jungle trail to see sloths and monkeys and finish up in Playa Larga.

Zapatillas Cays

The Zapatillas Cays are cosnidered the must-see sight of the reserve. It consists of two islands, Zapatillas Major and Zapatillas Minor, surrounded by spectacular beaches and over a 500 hectares of coral reefs. Zapatillas Minor is famous because of the leatherbacks and the hawksbills turtles that go to the island to lay their eggs in season and Zapatillas Major for its astonishing beach.

The best of the underwater world is around 300 meters away from Zapatillas Major where you will get into 20 to 40 feet deep waters and see several coral islets, angel fish, groupers, parrot fish, butterfly fish, lobsters, moray eels and countless small sea invertebrates.

The Garden scuba dive site is aptly named for its lush coral formations and incredible biodiversity. This dive site is perfect for macro photography, as it’s home to nudibranchs, seahorses, and various critters hiding among the corals.

Isla Carenero

,For those interested in a sleepier, more laid back island rhythm, Carenero Island is a great choice. The restaurants here are superb offering a mix of international and local seafood and vegetarian cuisine. Go for lunch, sip on a cocktail or tropical fruit juice and then relax on the many beaches that surround this small island. There are no roads here, only beach paths that run along the shore of the island with restaurants and hotels perched over the sea.

Things To Do

The Trail

Carenero is the smallest island (that is not a cayo) in Bocas and has a trail that goes all the way around the island. You can walk around the whole island in about two hours if you don’t stop along the way. This is a nice way to see the whole island and to get to more remote beaches and swimming spots. Part of the walk will be going by the popular area of Carenero with all the restaurants, other parts will be totally remote, and other spots will be going through residential areas, both expat and local.

Aqua Lounge

This famous (or infamous) overwater bar on Isla Carenero is known for its lively parties and water-based activities including a jumping platform, floaties, and slack lines over water. 

Isla Solarte

Now known as Isla Solarte, this island just south of Isla Bastimentos was called Nancy’s Cay for centuries as English-speaking pirates, traders, and settlers came to the region. The far west of Isla Solarte is named Hospital Point because of its history as the site of the region’s primary hospital compound, built by the United Fruit Company in 1900.

Things To Do

Scuba Diving

Bocas Del Toro isn’t known for the best scuba diving in the Caribbean, but a few spots are well known, and concentrated on the north end of Isla Solarte.

The sea wall at Hospital Point offers divers and snorkelers a real richness of sea life as the turtle grass and lettuce coral in the shallows make way for a wall that drops 12 to 15 meters. You might see lobsters, moray eels, invasive lionfish, trumpet fish, and deeper water corals and sponges along the wall. In the evening, schools of sardines cluster together, and needlefish zip around the water’s surface.

Manuel’s wall is a steep reef wall dropping down from 15m/50ft all the way to 30m/100ft. This is the deepest dive site in the bay where you are guaranteed to see an abundance of fish life on top of the wall. Large dog snapper, moray eels, and nudibranchs are some well known locals at this site.

Remote Anchorages

Monkey Island

Monkey Island is a secluded paradise on a mangrove island north of.

During this educational wildlife tour you will meet the resident monkeys and learn about each species, all while taking in the beautiful scenery of a unique and remote mangrove island, it’s a true monkey paradise. Visit with Capuchins, Tamarins and Squirrel monkeys. Urraca even has their own monkey island – next to the tiny resort island – where the monkeys can roam free in the mangrove trees. The monkeys access it via the ‘monkey bridge’. They can then return home for delicious snacks and rest.

Dolphin Bay

Known locally as Laguna Bocatorito, Dolphin Bay is located between the east side of Cristóbal Island and an irregularly shaped peninsula that juts out from the mainland.

The bay has calm waters and is surrounded by mangroves, which draw an abundance of small fish and crustaceans into the water—this makes it a perfect habitat for dolphins, especially mothers and calves. These bottlenose dolphins live here most of the year and are often seen in pods of five or six, but sometimes as many as ten.

Get Your Bearings

Welcome to the tropical paradise of Bocas del Toro, Panama. Nestled in the northwest corner of Panama, Bocas del Toro is a stunning archipelago known for its lush rainforests, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant culture. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply looking to unwind on pristine beaches, Bocas del Toro has something to offer every traveler.

Each of the islands of Bocas del Toro has its own unique appeal. Sun-seekers are transfixed by the stunning beaches, laid-back Caribbean vibes, and modern, healthy restaurants. Travel between the islands of Isla Colon, Isla Bastimentos, Isla Carenero, and Isla Solarte are quick and easy. Whether you’re interested in adventure, relaxation, or experiencing the natural beauty and vibrant culture of the region, island hopping is a great way to explore and discover this stunning archipelago in Panama.

Isla Colón

The main island and the most developed in the archipelago. It’s home to the town of Bocas del Toro, which is the cultural and economic hub of the region. Isla Colón offers a wide range of accommodations, restaurants, bars, and shops and a great base for exploring the other islands in the archipelago.

Things To Do

Isla Parájos

This small island off the north end of Colón is a migratory bird sanctuary for many species of tropical birds. Most people never venture out to this point but it is quite a beautiful, lush island with inlets into the side of the rugged rock face of the island.

Quad / ATV Trails

Rent a quad from Flying Pirates for the day, then you can go to the Blue Lagoon, La Piscina and take the quads over the designated quad trails in the jungle. Flying Pirates rents most of the land on this end of the island and has created a network of trails specifically for you to take your quad on. The trails are pretty rugged and so it’s not just cruising around on a quad—you will be going up and down over roots, through mud, and through rivers.

Finca Botanical Gardens

This is an extensive piece of land owned by one lady who has been running and caring for it for years. She occasionally does tours of the garden where you can see tons of native flora and fauna of Bocas. Tours last an hour and are free to the public. You have a very good chance of seeing howler monkeys, capuchins, sloths, poison dart frogs, and occasionally an anteater or agouti.

The Floating Bar

The name says it all. It’s a bar, and it’s floating. This cute little bar is located just outside the Bocas Marina on its own platform. They serve up delicious tacos and drinks all day and into night time. They have an upper deck, chairs to chill on, noodles to swim with, a platform for jumping off of, and plenty of sun. Bring a snorkel and mask and you can swim to the nearby mangroves and shipwreck of The Southern Wind. You will probably see more starfish here than at Starfish Beach. This is a great place to hang out with friends and get some sun during the day, and then watch the sunset over some beer and tacos.

Isla Bastimentos

Although it’s just a 10-minute boat ride from the town of Bocas del Toro, Isla Bastimentos is like a different world. Some travelers say this is their favorite island in their favorite part of Panama. The northwest coast of the island is home to palm-fringed beaches that serve as nesting grounds for sea turtles, while most of the northern and southern coasts consist of mangrove islands and coral reefs that lie within the boundaries of the Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos.

Things To Do

Bat Cave (Cueva Nívída)

Nívida in the native Ngäbe-Buglé language means bat. This bat cave experience is best with a guide who takes us on a kayak through the mangroves, followed by a rainforest hike, pointing out local fauna including hummingbirds and bright red dart frogs. Upon entering the cave we hike through with hundreds of bats and ancient stalactites and stalgamtites.

Up In The Hill Coffee and Cacao Farm

This organic cacao farm is nestled up in the jungle in the middle of Bastimentos. It is a super cute cafe that serves coffee, cacao drinks, wraps, veggie burgers, and amazing banana cake. They also sell coconut oil, coconut oil products, cacao products, and beeswax products for all sorts of uses—moisturizer, shampoo, bug spray, etc. Besides being a cute cafe to hang out at, they also do tours of the farm and explain the process of growing cacao and turning it into cocoa powder and other products.

Red Frog Beach

Red Frog is a long stretch of beach on the eastern side of Isla Bastimentos. Unlike other beaches on Bastimentos, there are many hotels, hostels and restaurants scattered along Red Frog Beach. There is also a chance to surf at Red Frog depending on the swell. This is a great beach to spend the day in the sun and water, with the opportunity to walk to a restaurant and grab a smoothie or a bite to eat. Along the trail to Red Frog Beach we’re sure to encounter some sloths in their natural habitat.

Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park

Established in 1988, this 132-sq-km marine park was Panama’s first. Protecting 130 islands of the Bocas del Toro archipelago, including the coral-fringed Cayos Zapatillas, and the wetlands in the center of Isla Bastimentos, the marine park is an important nature reserve for mangroves, monkeys, sloths, caimans, crocodiles and 28 species of amphibians and reptiles.

There are tours that can take you to the indigenous community of Quebrada de Sal (Salt Creek) where you then take a jungle trail to see sloths and monkeys and finish up in Playa Larga.

Zapatillas Cays

The Zapatillas Cays are cosnidered the must-see sight of the reserve. It consists of two islands, Zapatillas Major and Zapatillas Minor, surrounded by spectacular beaches and over a 500 hectares of coral reefs. Zapatillas Minor is famous because of the leatherbacks and the hawksbills turtles that go to the island to lay their eggs in season and Zapatillas Major for its astonishing beach.

The best of the underwater world is around 300 meters away from Zapatillas Major where you will get into 20 to 40 feet deep waters and see several coral islets, angel fish, groupers, parrot fish, butterfly fish, lobsters, moray eels and countless small sea invertebrates.

The Garden scuba dive site is aptly named for its lush coral formations and incredible biodiversity. This dive site is perfect for macro photography, as it’s home to nudibranchs, seahorses, and various critters hiding among the corals.

Isla Carenero

For those interested in a sleepier, more laid back island rhythm, Carenero Island is a great choice. The restaurants here are superb offering a mix of international and local seafood and vegetarian cuisine. Go for lunch, sip on a cocktail or tropical fruit juice and then relax on the many beaches that surround this small island. There are no roads here, only beach paths that run along the shore of the island with restaurants and hotels perched over the sea.

Things To Do

The Trail

Carenero is the smallest island (that is not a cayo) in Bocas and has a trail that goes all the way around the island. You can walk around the whole island in about two hours if you don’t stop along the way. This is a nice way to see the whole island and to get to more remote beaches and swimming spots. Part of the walk will be going by the popular area of Carenero with all the restaurants, other parts will be totally remote, and other spots will be going through residential areas, both expat and local.

Aqua Lounge

This famous (or infamous) overwater bar on Isla Carenero is known for its lively parties and water-based activities including a jumping platform, floaties, and slack lines over water. 

 

Isla Solarte

Now known as Isla Solarte, this island just south of Isla Bastimentos was called Nancy’s Cay for centuries as English-speaking pirates, traders, and settlers came to the region. The far west of Isla Solarte is named Hospital Point because of its history as the site of the region’s primary hospital compound, built by the United Fruit Company in 1900.

Things To Do

Scuba Diving

Bocas Del Toro isn’t known for the best scuba diving in the Caribbean, but a few spots are well known, and concentrated on the north end of Isla Solarte.

The sea wall at Hospital Point offers divers and snorkelers a real richness of sea life as the turtle grass and lettuce coral in the shallows make way for a wall that drops 12 to 15 meters. You might see lobsters, moray eels, invasive lionfish, trumpet fish, and deeper water corals and sponges along the wall. In the evening, schools of sardines cluster together, and needlefish zip around the water’s surface.

Manuel’s wall is a steep reef wall dropping down from 15m/50ft all the way to 30m/100ft. This is the deepest dive site in the bay where you are guaranteed to see an abundance of fish life on top of the wall. Large dog snapper, moray eels, and nudibranchs are some well known locals at this site.

Remote Anchorages

Monkey Island

Monkey Island is a secluded paradise on a mangrove island north of.

During this educational wildlife tour you will meet the resident monkeys and learn about each species, all while taking in the beautiful scenery of a unique and remote mangrove island, it’s a true monkey paradise. Visit with Capuchins, Tamarins and Squirrel monkeys. Urraca even has their own monkey island – next to the tiny resort island – where the monkeys can roam free in the mangrove trees. The monkeys access it via the ‘monkey bridge’. They can then return home for delicious snacks and rest.

Dolphin Bay

Known locally as Laguna Bocatorito, Dolphin Bay is located between the east side of Cristóbal Island and an irregularly shaped peninsula that juts out from the mainland.

The bay has calm waters and is surrounded by mangroves, which draw an abundance of small fish and crustaceans into the water—this makes it a perfect habitat for dolphins, especially mothers and calves. These bottlenose dolphins live here most of the year and are often seen in pods of five or six, but sometimes as many as ten.

 

EXPLORE

Have a play around on this interactive map of our route to explore more places and activities available during our trip.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Accommodations include use of the following:

  • 3 queen cabins, each with private ensuite bath with electric toilet, wash basin and separate shower stall. All cabins have ample storage, a panoramic window, air conditioning, two fans, US 110v outlets and dimmable recessed lighting.
  • Social areas include an upper deck lounge with sectional couch and sunbed area with 360 degree view. Forward deck has spacious lounge area with adjustable reclining seating, trampoline and sunning areas. Aft deck offers lounge area plus alfresco dining. Salon offers lounge area with coffee table plus flat screen TV with many movies and USB capabilities.

FYI

Flight info: Bocas del Toro Isla Colón José E. Hall International Airport (BOC)

Currency:
The Panamanian balboa (PAB) is the national currency of the Republic of Panama, which circulates alongside the U.S. dollar (USD), to which the PAB is pegged (1:1)

Electricity: On board Neverland is US 110v. We have US-style and USB outlets in every room

Communications: Neverland has on board wi-fi with high speed internet

We’ve got you covered: bath & beach towels, bedding, shower essentials, ScubaPro snorkel & dive gear, and dive lights

What to bring: soft-sided luggage, swimwear, sunscreen, beachwear, rain jacket, hat, sunglasses, music, books, camera, and personal snorkel/dive gear and wetsuit if you prefer 

NEVERLAND CRUISES LLC

+1.305.912.SAIL
SAIL@NEVERLAND.CRUISES

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CONTACT

Send us a message below with thoughts or questions. Visit the contact page to inquire about a trip on Neverland.