Bocas del Toro is an archipelago of islands with classic Caribbean aqua blue water, palm lined beaches set against nature-dense rainforest. The town of Bocas is home to most hotels and services and is low key, friendly and fun. Surfing, birding, dolphin observation, nature tours, snorkeling and diving are some of Bocas' attractions. Bocas is perfect for independent travelers, couples seeking romantic natural surroundings and families who want to have quality fun and nature-education experiences together.
Like the rest of Panama, Bocas is blessed by nature: no hurricanes touch these shores as they do the Central American neighbors. Add to that relatively low prices, pristine beauty and you've got the "Bocas Boom." Bocas is not only a top tourism destination but also a popular place for second homes and retirement.
Bocas town on Isla Colon has a rich history, a lively nightlife scene, good restaurants and a friendly, mostly English speaking population. Most hotels are located in town and it is a launching pad for all Bocas del Toro attractions.
Christopher Columbus was the first white man to anchor in Bocas waters in 1502. He found the calm waters the perfect place to repair his boats and named Carinero Island. Later, English pirates used Bocas as safe haven and in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Bocas became an international commercial center for trade in cacao and bananas. Bocas was populated mainly by immigrants from Jamaica making Bocas an English speaking province in a Spanish speaking nation. Even today, most locals speak English.
At the turn of the century, the town of Bocas del Toro was the first headquarters of the United Fruit Company. Boasting of 25,000 inhabitants, it had six consuls and five newspapers. A banana blight in the l920's put an end to this vibrant commercial center, but historical buildings and a stately park still stand.
Diving and Snorkeling
The best places for diving are Coral Key, Dark Wood Reef, Hospital Point and Punta Juan Buoy. For snorkeling, the Garden near Cayo Nancy, and Punta Juan buoy are excellent. Hotel Bocas del Toro can arrange for a diving tour operator or you can hire a water taxi and go on your own.
When diving in Bocas you will be able to see some of the best preserved hard and soft coral in the world. You will also have the opportunity to see sting rays, lobsters, many species of crabs and a countless variety of tropical reef fish.
Bocas is a low-key and friendly town where it is easy to meet with fellow travelers and the local people. In some places of town, every night it's a party.