This is part 5 of 5 part series of our travel to Panama. Click here if you want to go to part 1.
Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is an archipelago off the Northwest coast of Panama in the Caribbean Sea. It’s becoming an increasingly popular ecotourism destination with a vast biodiversity to explore. Adventure lovers will find plenty of activities to do as well, from scuba diving to snorkeling, surfing to hiking.
We were in doubt whether we should go to Bocas del Toro or not. We had some issues to find a suitable hotel that accepts children under 6-year-old, we also had to book an extra flight from Panama to Bocas del Toro and back only available through Air Panama. All I have to say is that it was well worth it, even though we covered just a small fraction of what we could have done there.
We stayed at Red Frog Beach Island Resort on Isla Bastimentos, a 15-minute water taxi ride from Bocas Town on Isla Colon. Bastimentos is one of the largest islands in Panama, a National Marine Park encompasses a large portion of the southwest side of it. Most of the beaches are located on the western side, including Red Frog Beach. We opted for a 3-bedroom villa and we had a very nice stay there. The villas are far away from the reception and restaurants, they have golf carts for rent so you can move around the resort easily.
La Loma Chocolate Farm was on the very top of our list of places to stay in Bocas del Toro, but they don’t accept children under 6-year-old. Fortunately, we could visit the place since they have a chocolate farm tour for people who are not staying there, which I highly recommend it. We spent half a day there, including lunch, and it was very nice. Henry, the owner, explained the whole chocolate making process, from cocoa plantation to chocolate tasting. Needless to say that my daughter loved it.
We hired a tour to Zapatillas Cays as well. They offer beautiful beaches, clear waters, coral reefs and small forests. We were hoping to have a similar experience such as we had in San Blas a few days before. But, in my opinion, despite the fact that Zapatillas Cays are also in the Caribbean sea, there is no comparison between the two and I prefer San Blas by a large margin. The weather didn’t help much either since it was cloudy most of the day.
Wildlife is easily spotted when wandering the resort. We saw sloths, monkeys, alligators and a vast diversity of birds. As you may guess, bringing some telephoto lenses is a must If you plan to visit Bocas del Toro.
The main goal of this trip was to spend some quality time with my family, and I can easily say we have accomplished that. As a photographer, even though I had taken some photos that I’m proud of, I would love to come back to Panama focusing on travel photography as a project. There are so many places I want to revisit and taking my time to photograph properly. Panama is an excellent destination for photographers, from the Caribbean beaches to the Skyscrapers in Panama City, from tropical forests and wildlife to street photography in Casco Viejo, you wouldn’t regret spending some time there, I didn’t.
There are some places that we planned to go and missed for a variety of reasons, here is a short list that I leave as a suggestion so you can do your own research if necessary:
– Panama Viejo, the remaining part of the old Panama City – We have tried to go there twice and it was closed;
– Boquette in Panama’s green mountain highlands.
– Isla Contadora in the Gulf of Panama;
– Portobelo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Colon.
As a grand finale we spent the last three days at the Hard Rock Hotel in Panama City, relaxing by the pool and drinking cocktails.
Thank you for reading and if you have any question, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment, I really appreciate it.