Bocas del Toro, Panama
The Caribbean Coast of Panama is notoriously underdeveloped—a pro or a con depending on what kind of lifestyle you’re looking for. This side of the country’s infrastructure is basic at best, and, as a result, fewer foreigners have settled on Panama’s northern side. English is less generally spoken than on the Pacific side, though the touristy Bocas del Toro is an exception— here the high volume of visitors means most working in the service industry speak English, and many businesses are American or Canadian owned.
Bocas del Toro is often regarded as Panama’s top tourist destination—and for good reason, too. This is one of the most pristine areas on Panama’s Caribbean coast, and tourists have taken 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 Ngäbe-Buglé comarca to the east.
Until recently, it has been regarded as little more than a slum. To be fair, some corners of the town could leave you with that impression, but things are changing here.
The government is beginning to take note of the tourism potential and is investing in infrastructure accordingly. As recently as a decade ago, paved roads, sewage treatment, and even slightly reliable electricity had yet to arrive to town. Today, Bocas is more attractive than ever before and continues to improve thanks to the locals, tourists, and foreign residents alike. Improvements in infrastructure are ongoing and at a steady pace. Even recycling has now been recognized as a necessity if they are to save their pristine sand and surf.