Bocas del Toro is a tourist town. In fact, it is often regarded as Panama’s top tourist destination—and for good reason, too. Bocas del Toro Province is one of the most pristine areas on Panama’s Caribbean coast, and tourists have started to take note of its dense rain forests, clear and clean turquoise water, and white-sand beaches.
Bocas del Toro is a province in Panama consisting of a small portion of the mainland as well as an archipelago of nine islands. It borders the Caribbean Sea to the north, Chiriquí to the south, Costa Rica to the west, and the indigenous Ngöbe-Bugle comarca to the east.
Minutes after stepping off the water taxi that takes you to Bocas Town, on the Bocas del Toro archipelago’s Isla Colón, tour guides are waiting to pounce with their offers of island hopping, scuba diving, surf lessons, ziplining, and more. Hostels, hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants, cafés, and bars surround the main seafront strip where the water taxis unload the wide-eyed visitors.
But Bocas is so much more than just tourists… The 19,000 or so residents in town consist of surfers, fishers, and entrepreneurs, including local indigenous people, Panamanians, and foreigners. Like much of Panama, Bocas is a multicultural mix.
Bocas town has a distinctly Caribbean flair (not surprisingly, given that it’s located on the Caribbean coast). Rastafarian culture is present in the music, shops, and restaurants, and Bob Marley blasts from bar speakers and adorns tourist T-shirts. Don’t be confused though. This isn’t Jamaica; Bocas Town just feels like Jamaica.