Simply stated, Bocas del Toro is a tropical paradise.
Bocas is one of Panama’s top tourist destinations, with good reason. There are few places left in the world where you can enjoy gorgeous beaches with scarcely a soul in sight. Many of these incredible beaches are fringed with rainforests so fine that Lonely Planet Guide calls them “a biologist’s fantasy.”
Amid this natural splendor you’ll find the charming town of Bocas, a laid back Caribbean settlement with a friendly English speaking population, historical ambiance, great restaurants and a lively nightlife.
Bocas is also blessed by nature in that no hurricanes ever touch these shores, as they do other Central American neighbors. The archipelago of Bocas del Toro is located on the northwestern coast of Panama in and around the Bay of Chiriqui. International travelers have only recently discovered this isolated region of Panama. It is for this reason that much of the island chain remains pristine and untouched.
Bocas is an outdoor lover’s paradise with hundreds of islands to explore, rainforests to hike and incredible beaches where you can swim, surf or just take a long walk. Bocas is also home to a National Maritime Park that features the Zapatilla islands. The Zapatillas are ringed by lush tropical reefs and the whitest sand in Panama. You will also find plenty of opportunities for diving, fishing, boating, kayaking, sailing, snorkeling, hiking and horseback riding.
This region, considered the most geographically diverse in the Caribbean, is also a nature lover’s dream come true. Bocas is one of the few places in the world that can boast of being the home to a fully functional research facility owned and operated by the Smithsonian Institution. Eco-tourism is coming of age in Bocas, and why not, with unspoiled coral reefs, a magnificent rain forest and miles of unspoiled beaches within close proximity. If nature is your thing, you will find quality jungle tours, river tours, island tours, bird watching and turtle watching expeditions.
Bocas is also home to at least two tribes of indigenous Indians whose villages can be visited by invitation. Several of these villages are located within the boundaries of the Bastimentos National Marine Park, a gem in Panama’s National Park system.
The main town on the archipelago is Bocas Del Toro, which is located on the southeastern tip of Isla Coln. It is easily reached by land, sea or air. There are several daily flights from Panama City and other nearby cities into the modern airport. Taxi service by boat is available throughout the day from Almirante, the closest city on the mainland. For those wishing to get to Bocas by car, ferry service is provided several times each week from Almirante.
In addition to the charm of a small Caribbean community, the town boasts paved streets, treated potable water, several new hotels and restaurants and modern conveniences such as internet service, cable TV, a hospital with ambulance service and a fire department.
As in all of Panama, the currency is the US dollar and in Bocas you will find that many of the local people speak English.
In addition to a tourism boom, in recent years Bocas has experienced a real estate boom. More and more ex-pats are arriving and although prices are rising, they still represent some of the best buys in the Caribbean. Many of the new arrivals have started small businesses catering to the tourist trade. All this said – on a retirement income in Bocas, you can enjoy “the good life” in safe and beautiful surroundings.