Bocas del Toro is the name of an exotic group of islands off the west coast of Panama. The beaches here are pearly white and the sea is azure blue, making it the ideal spot for some peace and privacy. Add a little snorkelling or scuba diving, or simply enjoy the nature. The six islands that comprise Bocas Del Toro each have their own tropical rainforest.
It is clear why Bocas Del Toro has been dubbed the ‘treasure trove of Panama’. The sea is bursting with rare fish, coral reefs and sea turtles, making this area particularly suitable for snorkelling. Bocas del Drago, for example, has marvellous coral gardens at Isla Cristobal and Cayos Zapatilla. You can go night diving at Hospital Point, which offers the best chance of encountering dolphins, sea turtles, eagle rays and nurse sharks. The members of Bocatoreños, a group of local independent boatmen, know the loveliest spots for diving and snorkelling – including places that no one else knows about.
Eco-tourism has a high priority in Bocas Del Toro,. There are eco-lodges situated along the ubiquitous white beaches. On the island of Isla Bastimentos are the Red Frog and Playa Larga beaches. Red Frog Beach gets its name from the strawberry-red frogs that are only found here in the woods which fringe the beach. But watch out, they’re the size of a pin head and poisonous! Moreover, Isla Bastimentos is well known for a beach where swimming is forbidden. Sea turtles lay their eggs here between April and August, and the hatching is quite a spectacle!
The islands share a common capital: Boca Del Toro, a town on the island of Isla Colón. This is the place for discovering just what bon vivants the inhabitants are. In the town centre there is plenty of dining choice: From American (Nine Degrees: www.9degreespanama.com) and Asian (Lemongrass), to Mediterranean (Casbah) and Indian (OM). A little way out of town is Guari Guari, where local produce is conjured into delicious meals.
Each island in the Bocas Del Toro group is as beautiful as paradise thanks to the combination of wonderful beaches and tropical rainforest. The woods are inhabited by monkeys, exotic birds, sloths and brightly coloured frogs. The biggest attraction on Boca del Drago is The Grotto, a cave in which three species of bat make their home. The islands are also home to many native Indians, such as the hospitable Ngobe-Bugle tribe that lives on Isla Bastimentos.