Must see attractions in Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro

  • Top ChoiceSights in Isla Bastimentos

    Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos

    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. Get up-to-date park information from the ATP or Ministerio de Ambiente offices in Bocas del Toro town. To camp out anywhere in the park, you are required to first obtain a permit (US$10) from the latter.

  • Sights in Bocas del Toro Town

    Finca Los Monos Botanical Garden

    One of the joys of visiting Bocas is touring the 'Monkey Farm' botanical garden a couple of kilometers northwest of the center. Painstakingly carved out of 10 hectares of secondary rainforest over almost two decades, it contains hundreds of species of local and imported trees and ornamental plants, and is teeming with wildlife. Co-owner and guide Lin Gillingham will point out howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys, sloths and various bird species. Tours, on Fridays and Mondays, must be booked in advance; garden tours depart regularly while birding tours are on demand.

  • Sights in Isla Bastimentos

    Playa Larga

    This 6km-long beach on the southeast side of the island falls under the protection of the marine park. Hawksbill, leatherback and green sea turtles nest here from March to September. It's also good for surfing. To get here, you can follow the path past Red Frog Beach, but the best access is the one-hour walk with a guide from Salt Creek.

  • Sights in Isla Bastimentos

    Red Frog Beach

    Small but perfectly formed, Red Frog Beach is named after the rana rojo (strawberry poison-dart frog), an amphibian you're most unlikely to encounter here due to development, local kids trapping them to impress tourists, and a tidal wave of day-trippers in season. From Bocas town, water taxis (US$7) head to the public dock next to a small marina on the south side of the island, from where the beach is an easy 15-minute walk.

  • Sights in Isla Colón

    Playa Bluff

    This lovely beach is pounded by intense waves. Though you wouldn’t want to get into the water here without a board, the soft, yellow sand and palm-fringed shores are pristine. The beach is 8km from Bocas town, alongside the road after you round Punta Bluff. It serves as a nesting area for sea turtles from May to September.

  • Sights in Isla Colón

    Boca del Drago

    Boca del Drago, in the northwest of Isla Colón, is one of the best beaches on the island, though the surf can be rough at times. Just offshore from the beach is a patchy coral-and-sand sea bottom that offers good snorkeling when the sea is calm and the water clear.

  • Sights in Isla Bastimentos

    Nivida Bat Cave

    One of Bastimentos' most fascinating natural wonders, Nivida is a massive cavern with swarms of nectar bats and a subterranean lake. The cave lies within the borders of the Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos and half the fun is getting here. But it's next to impossible to do it on your own. An organized tour from Old Bank costs US$45 per person. The tour involves a 25-minute boat ride from Old Bank to the channel entrance. You'll then spend a similar amount of time gliding though mangroves and lush vegetation. From the dock it's then a half-hour hike to the cave. Wear sturdy shoes or boots; you will be provided with headlamps at the cave entrance.

  • Sights in Bocas del Toro Town

    La Gruta

    If sun, sand and surf isn't your thing then consider a trip to this cave in Colonia Santeña, a small village of cattle farmers 7km northwest of Bocas town. Here you'll wade through waist-high water while trying not to disturb thousands of sleeping bats overhead. It's all over in about five minutes. The cave entrance, marked by a small shrine to the Virgin Mary, is along a short trail on the right along the road to Boca del Drago. A round-trip taxi should cost about US$20 or you can take the Boca del Drago bus (US$2.50).

  • Sights in Isla Bastimentos

    Wizard Beach

    The most beautiful beach on Isla Bastimentos is awash in powdery yellow sand and backed by thick vine-strewn jungle. It's connected to Old Bank via a wilderness path, which normally takes 20 minutes or so but can be virtually impassable after heavy rains. The path continues along the coast to Playa Segunda (Second Beach) and Red Frog Beach.

  • Sights in Isla Bastimentos

    Playa Polo

    Polo Beach wraps around a sheltered cove and is protected by a reef. It has good snorkeling. Can be reached by short hike from Red Frog Beach.

  • Sights in Isla Colón

    Castillo Inspíración

    French-Canadian Robert Bezeau crafted this four-story castle from 40,000 plastic bottles. The epitome of recycling, it's one of a kind and worth a good look. His mission is to educate the public about creative options for reuse of plastics. For now the interior is only open to the public for special events but there are plans in the works for a restaurant.

  • Sights in Isla Colón

    Playa El Istmito

    Playa El Istmito, also called Playa La Cabaña, is the closest beach to Bocas town (2.5km away), but as it's on Bahía Sand Fly the chitras (sand flies) here have an itchy bite. This is not the most attractive beach and, unless you’re walking, it’s worth heading further north to Sand Dollar Beach or beyond.

  • Sights in Isla Colón

    Playa Punch

    Further up the coast from Playa El Istmito and Sand Dollar Beach is Playa Punch (or Paunch), which is dangerous for swimming but good for surfing. It's about 5km from Bocas town.