Bocas del Toro is one of Panama’s top tourist destinations and once you visit you can totally see why. This pristine paradise has been attracting surfers, beach seekers, and young party goers for years. A recent tourism ad for Bocas del Toro boasted “Cancun, we see your swim up bar… we raise you a swim up village.”
The archipelago of Bocas consists of 9 principle islands and 52 cays, with the main one being Isla Colon, also know as Bocas Town. This is where you’ll find the island’s main restaurants, bars, and epic parties within walking distance of wherever you stay. But if peace and quiet is what you’re after, then you can retreat to one of the more relaxing islands like Isla Bastamientos or Isla Carenero and then water taxi over to Bocas Town whenever you like.
Here is a round-up of some of my favorite hotel & hostel options in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
Showcasing an outdoor pool and views of the sea, Finca Vela Lodge is located in Punta de Gallinazo in the region of Bocas del Toro and offers free shuttle service to the main island. Staying here, you’ll be able to jump right into the sea where you can enjoy snorkeling or paddle boarding.
Offering a juice bar and a restaurant, Selina Hostel’s Bocas del Toro location is located in Bocas Town on Isla Colon, the main island of the Bocas del Toro archipelago. You can enjoy views of the sea from the restaurant, bar or lounge area. Selina offers beds in shared dorms with access to a communal patio, terrace and seating area. There is also a fully equipped shared kitchen. A private dock is available and guests can take day tours from there. Surfboards, SUP boards or skateboards are available for rent.
“Sleep in a forest of chocolate trees. Discreetly tucked away in a quiet bay, La Loma Jungle Lodge and Chocolate Farm is designed to bring guests comfortably closer to the natural environment and communities of the island of Bastimentos. La Loma’s 23 hectares stretch up from the mangrove shores of Bahia Honda, through tropical forest, groves of cacao (chocolate), banana, and coconut to one of the highest points on Bastimentos Island.Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are included in the cost of your stay and the organic gardens supply many of the ingredients for meals. Chocolate in its many diverse and delicious forms features at every meal.”
This property is 2 minutes walk from the beach. Offering a barbecue and sun terrace, Bocas Beach Club & Suites is an all-inclusive resort situated on Isla Carenero.
Selina’s other property in Bocas del Toro is at Red Frog Beach, so you’re just steps away from one of the islands best surf spots (surf board rentals available). The hostel also features an outdoor pool and sun terrace, video room and common area with ping-pong and pool tables.
Bambuda Lodge is located in the tropical rain forest in Bocas del Toro. The property features a coral reef off its dock and a swimming pool with an on-site bar and music all day long. WiFi access is available for guests. The property offers individual beds in dormitories or private rooms. At Bambuda Solarte you will find a small gym and kayaks for rent, free snorkeling equipment is available for guests and there is a water taxi from the island available for USD 5 each way.
Tucked away in a secluded part of the island is an experience you will never forget. Each of the bungalows at Azul Paradise features a private outdoor shower, an outdoor living area with sofa, sunken lounge over the water, and a ladder leading from the sundeck straight into the waters of the Caribbean.
The Firefly is a beautifully designed retreat on Isla Bastimientos and features a restaurant, bar, pool, yoga studio and lounge space.
Set in Bluff Beach, 6 km from Bocas Town, Oasis Bluff Beach features unobstructed views of the beach and ocean. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar, and activities like horseback riding, snorkeling, and diving.