Bocas del Toro Travel Guide

Extending from the mainland cloud forest mountains to the tropical island chains, Bocas del Toro is considered Panama’s top travel destination.

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Bocas del Toro or Bocas Town is located on the northern Caribbean coast of Panama. Extending from the mainland cloud forest mountains to the tropical island chains, Bocas del Toro is considered Panama’s top travel destination. The archipelago has 9 main islands, 52 cays, and thousands of islets.

Home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Panama’s first National Marine Park, Bocas del Toro has also become one of Panama’s most visited eco-tourism destinations. Considered the ‘Galapagos of the Caribbean’ Bocas del Toro is also one of the most biologically diverse places on earth.

Bocas del Toro is served by Bocas del Toro “Isla Colón” International Airport which hosts daily commuter flights from and to Panama City and San José in neighboring Costa Rica.

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POPULATION AND TOURISM

The corregimento of Bocas del Toro has a land area of 67.3 square kilometres (26.0 sq mi) and had a population of 7,366 as of 2010, giving it a population density of 109.4 inhabitants per square kilometre (283/sq mi). Its population as of 1990 was 5,274; its population as of 2000 was 4,020.

Relatively few Panamanians live on the island, opting for cheaper housing on the mainland. Mainland residents working on Colón Island travel by boat. Bocas del Toro is a popular tourist destination year-round. The town is small enough that most places are within walking distance. The streets are arranged in a grid. Avenidas (avenues) run east-west and calles (streets) run north-south.

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Under the Köppen climate classification, Bocas del Toro features a tropical rainforest climate. The area does not have a predictable dry season. The driest months are October, January, and March. During the course of the year Bocas del Toro sees a copious amount of precipitation. Bocas del Toro averages 3,458 mm (136.1 in.) of rain per year. Temperatures are consistent all year (Hi: 83-90, low: 71-75). Sunrise is normally around 6 AM, and sunset is around 6 PM local time. These times vary only slightly during the year.


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Bocas del Toro is accessible by air or boat. Most visitors fly into Bocas del Toro “Isla Colón” International Airport from Costa Rica or Panama City. Ferries connect Almirante to Bocas del Toro.

Buses run between David, Almirante, Changuinola, and the Costa Rican border. Islands and islets in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago are accessible only by private boat or water taxi.

Many small communities line the string of islands and very few have roads. Many companies provide boat service to various islands and diving spots.

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INFRASTRUCTURE

Bocas del Toro lacks some basic infrastructure. A generator plant provides power to the towns of Isla Colon, Carenero and Bastimentos. The community does have a waste water (sewage) treatment plant, but not the same quality as found in the United States. The town lacks a water filtration or treatment system

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Health care is available, but facilities are limited. A public health clinic operates in town. Common medical problems include food and waterborne diseases, insect bites, sunburns, heat stress/stroke, and dehydration.

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  • The Bastimentos Island National Marine Park is about a twenty minute boat ride away, and is a major destination for ecotours.
  • Isla Colon has numerous white sand beaches. Swimmers should be aware of dangerous riptides.

Scuba Diving

  • del Toro is still relatively unknown as a dive destination. However, it offers a great diversity of aquatic life around its islands.

Surfing

  • del Toro offers a wide range of surf spots for different levels of experience, among them Black Rock, Carenero, and Wizard Beach, as well as Bastimentos Island. November to April are considered to be peak season, as well as summertime. Bocas del Toro also hosts (inter)national surf competitions.

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Bocas del Toro or Bocas Town is located on the northern Caribbean coast of Panama. Extending from the mainland cloud forest mountains to the tropical island chains, Bocas del Toro is considered Panama’s top travel destination. The archipelago has 9 main islands, 52 cays, and thousands of islets.

Travel and tourism in Bocas del Toro. How to get in, maps, activities & where to eat and sleep. Download the Free Bocas del Toro Travel Guide.

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Michel Piccaya

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As a freelance travel photographer, Michel Piccaya has been on the road worldwide for more than 20 years, exploring the most incredible itineraries. He’s currently based in Brussels however never stays at home for a long time !

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