Bocas Del Toro is the place where the Survivor TV series was filmed. It was used because everything looks idyllic with the white sand beaches, crashing blue surf and a loads of little islands dotted around the area. It’s a shame then that to get there you pass through a grotty little dive of a town called Almirante and when you arrive it’s an over commercialised party town – to get to the idyllic parts you need to take a boat and escape the masses of people!
A proper jungle beach
My first experience of the real Bocas Del Toro was Starfish beach. It’s a small strip of beach in a calm bay fringed by palm trees and is very reminiscent of all those movies you see showing a tropical islands. It’s a beautiful strip of beach and well worth a visit!
We played in the sea and just sat on the beach for a while chatting. It’s a nice little place and there are plenty of starfish in the water to look at too (hence the name!)
Snorkelling and more beach fun
With a couple of the guys from the dorm we headed out on a snorkelling and beach trip. The first stop was a bay full of dolphins and we watched as the boat driver would charge up to the last location we had spotted the dolphins and stop the boat, see them somewhere else and charge across… It wasn’t that great as we seemed to be terrorizing them! We then moved on and tried snorkelling in a fairly strong current before heading to Red Frog Beach.
Red Frog beach is a beautiful place. The beach is wide, the tide strong and the sand crisp and golden. The waves come crashing ashore with a thunderous sound and it’s fun to go out and fight the waves feeling their power and relentless charge against the beach. It’s the first time I’d played in the sea like this and we were shoulder barging or diving underneath the waves before getting it all wrong, getting picked up, tumbled about and then finally getting thrown against the shore! Everyone was grinning, laughing and having fun! We also managed to spot the frog which gives the beach it’s name…
Nick and I then went for a wander along the beach to the end and kept crisscrossing paths with an American couple. As we rounded the corner we saw a man with a SLR and a telephoto lens – the Americans arriving around the corner kissing and canoodling, spotted the photographer and looked crestfallen. The stopped canoodling and declared that they didn’t expect the paparazzi! It didn’t take a genius to fathom out what they were planning! Still, the next time we saw them they both looked somewhat chilled and satisfied with themselves…
On the way back we even saw a Sloth in the trees!
It was also on this trip I learned how to dive under the water whilst swimming. I’m not that good at it as I struggled to hold my breath for that long, but I was swimming away quite happily and hitting the bottom. Every time I get in the water now I’m getting better and more proficient swimmer, it’s great!
The night life in Bocas is good! There is always a bar offering free or cheap drinks, a theme night, cheap food… You just need to know where to go on that specific night. On Saturday night the place to be was Aqua Lounge which has large decking out into the sea and people would launch themselves off it into the sea to cool down. Another, similar bar, was set over the top of a sunken ship which was home to coral and loads of fish. The ship itself was illuminated and you could see all the fishes swimming about!
Immediately noticeable differences to South America
There are loads more people in Central America, or at least, we all much more concentrated into the Gringo Trail meaning it’s easier to find people or indeed travel with others. In Bocas I ran into people that had stayed in the same dorm as I in Panama (at the same time too) and they knew of others I’d met… It’s like one big family of travellers.
I’m sure South America was the same, but in Bocas I met five solo travellers very easily and would continue on to Costa Rica and beyond with some of them – it seems much easier to meet people here than in the South! Similarly, in South America it felt as if the emphasis was on doing or seeing things whereas here it’s all about having fun, be that going somewhere or seeing something or simply partying the night away. People party hard here. I like it!
More pictures of Bocas Del Toro
More pictures of Bocas Del Toro can be found in the Digitallery album Central America – Panama – Bocas Del Toro
Click here to load a map showing you the location of this post and images from the digitallery taken nearby.