Bocas del Toro
Your Destination for Idyllic Beaches, Breathtaking Coral Reefs & Lush Rainforests
Located on the northern Caribbean coast of the Republic of Panama, Bocas del Toro is not just another beautiful archipelago blessed by nature and lost in time. Nor is it “one last island to visit” where you can finish up your list of vacation activities before returning home. In fact, this island alone offers so many unique options that you may well find it difficult to keep to any schedule whatsoever!
Your adventure begins with the name itself. Bocas del Toro is the Spanish phrase for “the bull’s mouths” or “the bull’s gulf.” It is a fact that Christopher Columbus discovered this lush paradise while searching for a passage to the Pacific Ocean, but the origin of the name is questionable. Some say that Columbus named the area either after its various waterfalls that appear to be shaped like a bull’s mouth, or the rock formation on Bastimentos Island, still in existence today, that resembles a bull lying down. Others claim it was the sound of waves against the volcanic rock that made a sound like a roaring bull.
Still, others believe that the name derives from the Indian word meaning “chief”—cacique—and the chief was known as Boka Toro. Whatever its history, these stories alone hint at Bocas del Toro as the perfect example of coexistence and multi-cultural respect.
The discerning tourist with a love of incredible and overwhelming natural beauty will find the town a true paradise. And as Panama’s first National Marine Park, Bocas del Toro has also become one of Panama’s most visited eco-tourism destinations.
More than 350 species of birds including the beautiful red-billed tropicbird—as well as four classes of endangered turtles, sloths, caimans, and numerous fish species—can be found in this one single area. In fact, the rich abundance of wildlife, both on land and in the water, has provided such a perfect forum for study that the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) on Panama’s Western Caribbean coast installed a field station—the Bocas del Toro Research Station (BRS).
Small enough that most places are within walking distance, the streets of this village are conveniently arranged in a grid making it easy to explore the many points of interest. Everyone’s itinerary should include these top places:
In addition to beautiful vistas and unique flora and fauna, Bocas also offers traditional outdoor activities including trekking, beaching, sports fishing, dolphin sighting, snorkeling, bird watching and much more.
The majority of hotels, pubs, and restaurants in the archipelago are located on Colon Island. And in keeping with the cultural diversity of the surroundings, Bocas restaurants serve an amazing array of delicacies—everything from the freshest seafood and mouth watering pizza to exotic offerings such as Chinese and East Indian cuisine.
Lodging in Bocas is also as diverse as its culture. You can choose anything from luxurious resorts, jungle eco-lodges and private island resorts to beachfront surf hostels and island-style bed and breakfasts.
Primitive, seductive and unforgettable, make Bocas del Toro the first stop of your Caribbean holiday!