Bumming About in Bocas Del Toro, Panama

Greetings from Bocas Del Toro,

As it happens I found myself an eco-lodge for a few days outside Bananito, Costa Rica since we last chatted. A recent tornado totally tore apart something and as a result, no interenet. At first I had jitters, than slight uneasiness before some disturbing sweats. It was a cool experience and quite enjoyed the rainforest nature hike, even saw a viper… Long story short, I still wrote daily and planned on uploading it from here. Turns out the moment I got to Bocas Del Toro and turned my computer on, it went haywire and died…

If you’re going into the rainforests, don’t bring your valuable electronics. My clothes were damp the entire time and I’m talking the stuff that was in my suitcases, my electronics didn’t fare much better but such is life and it’s an old laptop anyways. We were supposed to go ziplining up near San Jose but both of us had already done it and the mission in our mind was to get to Bocas Del Toro. Considering we were already so close to the border and on the Caribbean side, we just skipped it.

Bocas Del Toro is NOT what I thought at all. It’s basically Big Corn Island but with toursits aka a somewhat seedy Caribbean port city. Most of the tourists appear to be young and it’s sorta like Caribbean meets Pai meets Kuta. It’s cool that they have a scene with street vendors selling skewers and making shakes but really, it’s not my bag. That said, can see how it would appeal to some, particularly backpackers looking to party. Lots of spots have beer for about a buck and rum for not much more. Flipside is my first impression of Kuta was this place sucks and I ended up staying 3 weeks…

What’s kind of lame is that the “good beaches” are a water taxi away and Red Frog which is the supposedly the best, you have to pay to enter… Huh? Let’s get real, taking a boat and then hiking and paying to visit a beach doesn’t sound like paradise to me. Beaches are supposed to be free and easy to access, yes? As a result I am protesting and probably won’t bother checking them out, this place is an archipelago anyways so best done in a sailboat.

A friend of mine lives on a sailboat here but as fate would have it, he’s in Panama City getting a hip replacement (ouch and good luck my friend) so not reason for me to stick around. As a result we’re moving on soon and I’ll be back one day when my friend is healed to hang out with him and hopefully tour Bocas the way it was meant to be, in a sail boat.

That’s it for now, off eat overpriced sushi and drink criminally underpriced beer.

Tips hat,

P.S: Typing this from an internet cafe and not thrilled about it.


  1. Matan

    September 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Dont forget San Blas!!

    • Rob

      September 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      Thanks for the reminder, my friend who lives here also suggested it.

  2. Jim

    September 26, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Disappointed you didn’t enjoy Bocas. Was going to make my first visit there this winter. No big deal as I am going to Panama City in any case. I have heard nice things about the Island of Tortuga (sp?) which is a short ferry ride from Panama City. Maybe I will try there instead.

    • Rob

      September 27, 2012 at 12:52 am

      I’ve only been here a day and it is growing on me. It is very convenient and set up for tourists and supposedly some of the other islands in the area are stunning.

      Supposedly there are some hostels / guesthouse on smaller chilled islands. I would probably look into them if I didn’t need to go to Panama City for a new pc.

      I think the thing to do is get on a sailboat. Chatting with a gent who owns an old lobster boat as sailing is a lot of work, he said a boat is like your car here. All amenities are in town but once you get off main island super beautiful with lots to see.

      I think you can fly from Panama City for like $60 if time is not on your side, good sir.

      • Jan

        September 27, 2012 at 6:38 am

        I wouldn’t expect a bar in Bocas Del Toroto have a cover charge! Crazy.

        • Rob

          September 27, 2012 at 7:21 am

          No cover, just cheap drinks and seems somewhere is always hosting ladies night.

  3. charlie

    October 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Sucks about the laptop dude. Electronics do have a short lifespan though. PC or Mac doesn’t matter, they both use the exact same components inside and suffer the same problems. For durability Lenovo/IBM ThinkPads are the best of the breed though. They’re the only model that is qualified and permitted for use on the International Space Station. Also I recommend replacing your PC/Mac every 2 years and you will significantly reduce problems. I do that when I find a good one discounted (much harder to do with Mac however since they are rarely on sale in New condition). Then clean your old laptop and sell it on Craigslist or something. This method only costs me 100-175 bucks every 2-3 years. That’s costs like… 20c a day for having access to your own current-ish tech.

    • Rob

      October 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      Genius, how did I never think of this? It’s like a car! It makes more sense to sell it before it dies than be the one left walking away when it’s a smoulder heap of garbage, yes!?

      That said, for $2 a day you can get a whole new one. When you think about what $2 a day can get you after one year, makes you wonder what you could have with all those $2 that just went on whatever we can’t remembers.

  4. Molly

    December 12, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    I am heading to Central America next month and I’m trying to decide between Boco del Toros and Corn Islands. I just came across this post, and I happen to follow you on IG. I think for budget purposes, I will only be able to do one or the other. I don’t plan on going through Panama, I would just go to Boco from Costa Rica. I am going to spend most of my time in Nicaragua and Belize.
    I am not a drinker, not interested in wild partying, but not bothered by it either. I’m all about hammocks and beaches. I am an artist and amateur photographer, so nature is number one. I know they each have their own perks, they are also both out of the way of how I’m planning on trekking, but well worth the island experience.
    I’d love to know what you suggest. I know this post is a few years old, but worth a shot.

    • Rob

      December 13, 2015 at 5:09 am

      It’s hard to say, Corn Islands are great but so is Bocas… Bocas has the bigger party scene but also so many islands you could get lost in but might cost to get there. Also staying in Bocas is probably cheaper than staying on the Corn Islands… I say do both but go to whichever one first you wish and stay until you’re ready to leave than move on.

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