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Bird Island

Bird Island (also called Swan’s Cay) is a lush bird sanctuary about 2.2 km (1.4 miles) directly off Bird Island Bungalows. The small island is best known for the rare and beautiful red-billed tropic bird that nests here, but it is also home to boobies, frigates, and pelicans. Bird Island is a popular destination by kayak or paddleboard (sea conditions permitting) and is also accessible by boat from Playa Drago ($40) with local guides. It is a wonderful destination for swimming and snorkeling, and on calm days, visitors can pass through natural arches carved through the island. However, due to the sensitive bird habitat, it is forbidden to land on the island.

Freshwater Lagoon

One of our favorite "secret" getaways at Bird Island is the tranquil Freshwater Lagoon and undeveloped beach which can be reached by walking about 20 minutes down the short to the west. The lagoon, lined with mangroves and continually filled with rainwater, is a popular bird habitat and refreshing swimming hole on a hot day. The adjacent beach, which stretches for over one kilometer without any human development, is a reserve for nesting sea turtles. The beach is protected by a barrier reef, so when the sea is rough this is the closest place to Bird Island for a good swim.

Playa Drago

Drago is a small fishing village located about five kilometers west of Bird Island. With quaint beaches and water-side restaurants, this is a popular spot for guests to come to lunch and relax (our free shuttle van goes to Drago 3X per day). Yarisnori, at the end of the road, has been serving beers and seafood since 1978 and may be the best spot in Bocas for a lobster lunch ($25). Drago is also the starting point for a walk to Starfish Beach (20 minutes) or to catch the bus ($2.50) or taxi ($20) to Bocas Town.

Starfish Beach

Starfish Beach, also known as Playa Estrella, is a popular white sand oasis with calm clear waters and numerous beach-side surf shacks serving drinks and seafood. What the beach is best known for are the numerous giant orange starfish littering the shallow waters. Starfish Beach is only accessible by foot or by boat, and it can be a wonderful place to spend an afternoon soaking, sunning, and communing with starfish, but be aware that loud music from restaurants, and waves from speedboats can be a distraction. Should you go, our recommendation is to walk to the end of the beack (south), where the noise is diminished and the starfish are often more plentiful.

Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon (not to be confused with the 1980 movie starring Brooke Shields) is a lovely, tranquil inlet carved into the rocky Northeast (Mitimbi) coast of Isla Colon. The Lagoon is about a 90-minute walk from Bird Island, along an isolated jungle path rife with wildlife, and it is an ideal spot for a snorkel or a swim on a hot day.

Drago Coast Bocas del Toro Panama
bird illustration Bird Island Panama
Boats at Bird Island Bocas del Toro Panama

La Piscina

Beach La Piscina, just to the south of the Blue Lagoon, is also a wonderful destination for a snorkel or a swim on a sunny day. The sandy beach at the end of a long, protected inlet harbors clear waters with numerous rock features jutting from the bottom providing shelter for corals and small fishes.

Bluff Beach

Surf’s up at Playa Bluff, one of the most renowned breaks for big-wave surfers coming to Bocas. But whether you can hang ten or not, Bluff is a memorable place to visit for a meal (Oasis, Bom Bom, and MarOnda are all worth checking out), wildlife watching (sloths, in particular, seem to love this side of the island) or a walk down the long, wide, picture-perfect beach.

Bocas Town

Bocas Town is the bustling hub for all of Bocas del Toro. It is home to the airport and ferry terminal, and to scores of restaurants, shops, grocery stores, and bars (host the infamous weekly "Filthy Friday" pub crawl, if you're into that kind of thing). Bocas is a 45-minute taxi ride from Bird Island or 30 minutes from Playa Drago ($20 by taxi or $2.50 by bus).

Isla Carenero

This small island just five minutes by water taxi from the bustle of Bocas Town offers a stark contrast. Small inns and restaurants line the western shore, many of them built over the water on rickety wooden piers, where colorful fish dart between pilings. Carenero is a recommended destination for a good hearty breakfast (try Casa Acquario), lunch (Leaf Eaters Cafe has long served vegetarian/vegan dishes and fresh seafood with a stunning view), a swim, or to learn to surf (Escuela del Mar offers 2-hour classes for $45). To hail a water taxi from Bocas Town, go to the end of any pier or waterfront restaurant, and start waving your arm.

Starfish Beach Bocas del Toro Panama
Private Beach Bird Island Bungalows

Isla Bastimentos

About 75% of the large Isla Bastimentos is protected in the vast Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, so development is controlled and the island is less crowded than others in Bocas. There are no roads on Bastimentos, just a sidewalk running through Old Bank, a small town on the western end with a few shops and restaurants. Beaches and water sports are the main draw to Bastimentos, popular spot destinations include Palmar, Turtle Beach, and Polo Beach (for great snorkeling!) We would be happy to organize day trips to Bastimentos with trusted boat captains leaving Play Drago.

Red Frog Beach

Of all Isla Bastimentos' beautiful beaches, Red Frog is the most popular. The beach has wide, white sands, and is privately maintained ($3-5 entry fee). Once there, you can enjoy food and drinks from a sprinkling of bars and restaurants near the water. Swimming conditions depend on the weather, as currents can be strong, but the primary draw for water enthusiasts is the excellent surfing. A water taxi from Bocas Town to Red Frog Beach is $5 - $8 per person.

La Loma

La Loma is a resort and cacao farm tucked in the jungle on the southern shore of Isla Bastimentos. For guests interested in exploring the inner workings of a modern cacao farm, we would be happy to help arrange a tour of La Loma.

Punta Vieja

The east coast of Isla Bastimentos is a wonderful place to visit for a swim, a surf, a walk on the beach, or a delicious meal at one of the numerous quaint resorts dotting the coast.

Las Zapatillas

These two small uninhabited cays are protected within the Bastimentos Marine Reserve and though lovely, are a popular destination with tourists. Should you go, seek out secluded beach spots on Zapatilla #2, or seek out nurse sharks while snorkeling at Zapatilla #1. We would be happy to organize day trips to Las Zapatillas with trusted boat captains leaving Play Drago.

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