This beautiful and remote chain of islands off the coast of Panama has become a very popular place with backpackers. You can choose to stay on the main island of Isla Colón or one of the smaller islands nearby, wherever you go it’s easy and cheap to island-hop!
It’s an expensive place to be, however, almost more so than Costa Rica, but we got lucky and found a lovely little hostel right on the water called Hostel Four Sisters for $18 a night. We could cook dinner in the evening and sit on the balcony with a beer as the sunset. It was the perfect place to relax.
Kayaking around Isla Colón
The best way to explore is to rent yourself a stand-up paddleboard for $15 an hour (we realised too late that is actually pretty cheap), or a kayak which we got from Bibi’s, a great place on the beach that also serves amazing food while you sit on a platform above the clear, turquoise water.
It would be a little slice of paradise on a sunny day, but we had quite rough water thanks to the weather, there was zero visibility when snorkelling so we gave up on that idea and decided to surf the waves in our kayak instead… 10/10 would recommend!
The other highlight of Bocas del Toro was Playa Estrella, Star Beach, known for the hundreds of starfish that live in the shallow waters. Get some cash out and catch a minivan to Bocas del Drago for $5, you’ll get a ticket and a time to catch your return bus.
From there, it’s a gorgeous walk along the waters edge under palm trees until you reach a line of beach bars and cafes. If you walk all the way to the end you’ll find deck chairs and empty white sand to relax on before taking a dip and swimming with giant red starfish. Remember, look but do not touch.
There would have been so much to keep us entertained while staying on Bocas del Toro but I wanted to save my last few dollars and just enjoy the peace and quiet of reading my book by the water and eating good food.
Getting to Bocas Del Toro from Puerto Viejo
We entered Panama from Puerto Viejo on the east coast of Costa Rica, and it was the absolute worst. Feel free to ignore everyone that is shouting at you for money, but no matter what you do you can’t avoid getting ripped off. There’s an $8 exit fee and a $3 entrance fee.
Catch a chicken bus from the border to Changuinola ($1, 40 minutes) and another to Almirante ($1.45, 30 minutes). From here you catch one of the three available ferries to Isla Colón ($6, 40 minutes).
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