The Caribbean Coast
Bocas del Toro is a vast archipélago situated to the far north west of Panama on the Caribbean side. It has an average temperate of 27°C and rain is to be expected at all times of the year, although the months of February to April and September/October are the drier months.
Home to the indigenous community of the Ngöbe Bugle, this region quickly prospered in the early part of the 20th century with the banana industry. However, twenty years later, this came to an end when the establishment of the banana plantations became infected with disease. Today, the banana industry has been largely replaced by the tourism industry and real estate.
Bocas del Toro comprises a diverse range of landscapes, from lush jungles and dense rainforests to mangrove islets and deserted, white sand beaches. It consists of many small, uninhabited islands and six large, forested islands, including Colón and Bastimentos. The Archipélago is home to Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park which is over 13,200 hectares and full of diverse marine life and a variety of ecosystems. Within recent years Bocas del Toro has seen a high level of development however, it is still possible to escape the crowds and find solitude on a scenic beach.
Colón Island is the most visited and developed of the islands - the only island, in fact, with paved roads. The hub of the region lies on this island at Bocas Town which has a laid-back, Caribbean atmosphere and rustic charm.
This island serves as a convenient base from which to visit surrounding islands and their glorious beaches, with the added bonus of having a wide range of restaurants to choose from of an evening.
It is also home to the majority of dive operators, thanks to its proximity to favourite diving spots known for their colourful coral, sponges, tropical fish including angel fish and parrot fish plus moray eels and nurse sharks.
The quieter, less developed neighbouring island of Bastimentos offers a pleasant place in which to relax and enjoy beautiful parts of this region. Accessible only by boat, Bastimentos is home to the national marine reserve and to some of the best beaches.