ABOUT BOCAS DEL TORO
Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is the name given to a large province (a region of land including part of mainland Panama) as well as the archipelago (group of small islands) on the north Caribbean coast of Panama. Bird Island Bungalows is located on the main island, Isla Colon. We are uniquely located on the far (north) side of the island, removed from the noisy tourist zone, immersed in tropical jungle and beautiful beaches.
Our side of the island
The far side of the island has a few unique destinations that you can travel to without heading all the way into town. While we have a small private beach here at Bird Island Bungalows and two other beautiful beaches within easy walking distance, there are other options just a short trip away. For a beautiful day at the beach, head to Playa Drago, where you can have a bite to eat and a beer or cocktail at one of the surf shacks and then enjoy the sun and sand. Surf’s up at Playa Bluff, where the water is best enjoyed with a surf board. There is a long expanse of beach perfect for romantic walks to enjoy the scenery, or you can relax on the sandy shores and listen to the big waves wash ashore. Playa Estrella (Starfish Beach) is named for the abundant starfish that can be seen on the bottom of the shallow, clear, calm turquoise waters. Make sure to bring snorkel gear!
One of the more unique tours available on our side of the island is heading out to Bird Island. You can book a tour with a local guide who will bring you by boat to go around the island and observe the unique birds that nest on the island. On calm days, you can even pass through the arches.
A 30-minute ride (by shuttle from Bird Island or by local bus) will bring you to Bocas Town, where you can find anything and everything you want to do in Bocas. Our staff is happy to give you a lift (no cost) to Playa Boca del Drago, where you can hop on the local bus and pay $2.50 to get to town. Alternatively, we can bring you into town for $15. A cab from Playa Drago to town costs $25-30. Keep in mind that the last local bus leave from town to Playa Drago at 6pm and after this time, cabs will cost more, from $35-40. In town, you can find restaurants, bars, street food shops, and everything in between.
If you’re interested in other activities or tours, Bocas Town is the place to go. You can find half-day, full-day, or multi-day excursions and packages depending on what you’re looking for; activities include island-hopping, snorkeling, diving, and more. There are multiple companies selling the same or similar tours, so it’s best to ask around and find the best price for your chosen tour. Check out our Tours section for different options and recommended tours.
The small island in between Isla Colon and Isla Bastimentos is mostly inhabited by locals and has only a small tourist area. Leaf Eaters Cafe is a beautiful place to have vegetarian/vegan food and fresh fish right on the water and enjoy the view of Bocas. The waters in Carenero are always calm and crystal clear, making it the perfect place to go for a swim or relax on the beach. Isla Carenero is best enjoyed during the daytime, since there are quite a few sand fleas that come out once the sun goes down.
75% of Isla Bastimentos is part of the Marine Reserve, so development is controlled and the island is less crowded than most others. There are no roads here, just one main sidewalk running through Old Bank, a small town area with a few shops and restaurants. Bastimentos has beautiful beaches, the most popular of which is Red Frog Beach. You can take a water taxi right to Red Frog Beach for $5-8/person. This beach is privately maintained (kept nice and clean) so there is a $3-5 entry fee. Once here, you can enjoy food and drinks from a few bars & restaurants and enjoy the large expanse of white sand. Depending on the weather, the water may be swimmable, but there is a strong current (which makes for great waves for experienced surfers!) Other nice beaches on Bastimentos include Palmar, Turtle Beach, and Polo Beach (great snorkeling!)
These two small islands are within the Bastimentos Marine Reserve and have no tourism infrastructure. If you book an island tour, they will usually be included. You can also hire a private boat to take you here (bring a cooler with drinks and food!) and enjoy the beaches in this secluded, pristine paradise. There is a $10 entry fee since the islands are within the Marine Reserve. Please ask our staff and we will be happy to help you book a local guide for your adventure.