Top 10 Things To Do In Bocas del Toro, Panama

things to do in bocas del toro

The islands of Bocas del Toro are a picturesque getaway where swaying palms frame silken beaches and turquoise waves sparkle under the warm sun. Bocas del Toro is a Panamanian province comprised of nine islands and each offers magnificent vistas and remarkable recreation opportunities. On land, go on a zip-lining adventure for a thrilling view of the island beneath you, or head into the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean for an afternoon of surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, or swimming! Meander through beautiful Finca Los Monos Botanical Gardens, then visit unique cultural attractions such as Plasticbottle Village. Of course, no trip to Bocas del Toro would be complete without visiting the area’s many spectacular beaches! Whether you crave rest and relaxation, or adventurous recreation, the archipelago is an awe-inspiring destination. Read the list below for a roundup of the top things to do in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

1. Swim with the (sea) stars at Starfish Beach

Sea stars at Bocas del Toro, Panama
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user JurriaanH used under CC BY-SA 3.0

With its soft, golden sand and calm surf, Starfish Beach is a popular area renowned for its population of sea stars. This beautiful beach is located on the northwestern side of Isla Colon, close to Boca del Drago beach and Bocas town. The soft sand and assortment of sun chairs make the beach perfect for sunbathing and the peaceful surf means this shoreline a great place for family-friendly fun. Try swimming or snorkeling in the crystal-clear water and enjoy the views of bright sea stars beneath the waves. Please do not pick up or handle the starfish, though, and help keep the beach’s starfish population safe.

Starfish Beach

Address: Bocas Town, Bocas del Toro, Panama

Opening hours: 6am - 6pm (daily)

Price: Free

2. Take a spiritual moment at Cuevas y Santuario La Gruta

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Cuevas y Santuario La Gruta is a unique spiritual site nestled among the lush forest of Bocas del Toro. Also known as the Natural Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Grotto, Cuevas y Santuario La Gruta is a memorial dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and many visitors come to pay tribute to her sculpture located within a lush grotto. To reach the grotto, visitors must hike along a well-preserved forest trail.

3. Visit sea turtle nests at Bluff Beach and Forest

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Bluff Beach & Forest on Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A picturesque area of golden sand bordered by lush jungle, Bluff Beach and Forest is a beautiful stretch of shoreline located on Isla Colon. This municipal nature reserve is set to become a national park, due to its ecologically diverse landscape and nesting ground for endangered sea turtles. Enjoy a peaceful stroll along the soft sands during the day or join a nighttime tour to learn more about the Leatherback, Carey, and Green sea turtles that return to this beach to lay their eggs. No matter when you visit, keep an eye out for the rich assortment of mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects that call Bluff Beach and Forest their home.

Bluff Beach and Forest

Address: Bluff Road, Bluff Beach, Isla Colon Panama

Website: Bluff Beach and Forest

4. See junk transformed into architecture at Plastic Bottle Village

Plastic Bottle Village
Source: Photo by Flickr user Dan Lundberg used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Plastic Bottle Village is a tremendous public art installation in Bocas Town. This unique sculpture was created by Robert Bezeau to highlight the harmful impact of single-use plastic on the world’s oceans. The four-level tall monument was built out of 40,000 PET bottles and aims to inspire guests to be more cognizant about the long-reaching effects of single-use plastic. Plastic Bottle Village contains an on-site museum where visitors can learn more about recycling and reusing plastic or even stay the night in the Plastic Bottle Castle and Jail for an eco-friendly vacation alternative.

Plastic Bottle Village

Address: Bocas del Toro Province, Panama

Website: Plastic Bottle Village

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 12pm, 1pm - 4pm (closed on Sun)

5. Stroll the sands of Istmito Beach

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The picturesque Istmito Beach is a small beach located on Isla Colon, situated a short walk from the city center of Bocas Town. Its stretch of soft sands and vibrant atmosphere make this area, also known as Playa La Cabaña or Bahia Sand Fly, a joyful place to spend an afternoon. Many bars, restaurants, and accommodations surround this beach and the area is popular with locals who stop by for an afternoon swim or a drink on the sand.

Istmito Beach

Address: Istmito Beach, Colón Island, Bocas del Toro, Panama

6. Explore the fabulous flora and fauna at Finca Los Monos Botanical Gardens

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The lush lanes of the Finca Los Monos Botanical Gardens are perfect for a peaceful afternoon outing. This gorgeous botanical garden in Isla Colon brims with stunning tropical plants, towering trees, and lively wildlife, and boasts breathtaking panoramas of the Bocas del Toro archipelago and the Caribbean Sea. Finca Los Monos Botanical Gardens has a staggering assortment of plant life, including colorful flowers, fragrant fruit trees, and verdant palms. As you wander along the tranquil paths, keep your eyes open for sloths and Howler monkeys, as well as the vibrant assortment of birds and butterflies. Guided tours are offered on Mondays and Fridays.

Finca Los Monos Botanical Gardens

Address: Bocas Town, Bocas del Toro, Panama

Website: Finca Los Monos Botanical Gardens

Price: 25 USD

7. Enjoy the ambiance of Simon Bolivar Park, Isla Colon

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Sit under the shade of giant trees in peaceful Simon Bolivar Park, Isla Colon. This wonderful park is situated in the center of Bocas Town and is the epicenter of local life. Stroll through the shady lanes and admire the magnificent banyan trees or stand under the colorful gazebo and listen to the chatter of colorful parrots around you. Many daily markets take place in the park and there are several wonderful restaurants and shops that surround the area.

Simon Bolivar, Isla Colon Park

Address: Av Central, Bocas del Toro, Panama

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

8. Admire the idyllic Cayo Zapatilla

Top Things To Do In Bocas del Toro, Panama
Source: Photo by Flickr user dronepicr used under CC BY 2.0

The breathtaking landscape of Zapatilla Island, also known as Cayo Zapatilla, is a must-see during a trip to the Bocas del Toro archipelago. These two beautiful islands may be small, but boast an immense natural beauty of calm, turquoise surf, pristine beaches, and verdant mangrove forests. Zapatilla Island is uninhabited, which creates a peaceful ambiance for you to revel in the idyllic scenery. Sunbathe on the silken sands or go snorkeling and swimming in the crystal-clear waters. Whether you visit the islands by yourself or on a group tour, don’t forget to pack your sunscreen and some snacks, as there are no restaurants or shops on the island.

9. Soar above the jungle with Bastimentos Sky Zipline Canopy Tour

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Get a bird’s-eye view of the stunning Panamanian jungle as you soar over it via zip line! Bastimentos Sky Zipline Canopy Tour is an exciting adventure company that offers seven zipline courses through the lush terrain of Bastimentos Island. As you zoom through the air, you’ll catch glimpses of the centuries-old tropical forest beneath you, and feel your adrenaline pulse as you navigate the sky-high courses. Bastimentos Sky Zipline Canopy Tour also offers a Treetop Challenge Course and a Swaying Sky Bridge for guests to try.

Bastimentos Sky Zipline Canopy Tour

Address: Bastimentos Island, Panama

Website: Bastimentos Sky Zipline Canopy Tour

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 10am - 12:30pm, 1pm - 2:30pm, 3pm - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

Price: 55 USD

10. Dive into adventure with La Buga Dive & Surf

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

“On the surface of the ocean, men wage war and destroy each other; but down here, just a few feet beneath the surface,...

Posted by La Buga Panama on Sunday, December 27, 2020

Surrounded by the stellar surf of the Caribbean, Bocas del Toro is an ideal place for an adventure on the water. Whether you prefer to ride the waves or dive beneath them, La Buga Dive & Surf is a fantastic company for all your water-related adventures. Explore the magnificent seascape on a scuba-diving tour or get a glimpse of the underwater world through the company’s glass-bottomed boat. Take surf lessons from the talented staff or rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board for a fantastic day out on the water. Whatever way you want to explore the water, La Buga Dive & Surf can help you do it.

La Buga Dive & Surf

Address: Main St, Bocas Town, Bocas del Toro, Panama

Website: La Buga Dive & Surf

Opening hours: 8am - 8pm (daily)

Explore the best of Bocas del Toro

With its magnificent scenery and terrific recreation opportunities, the Bocas del Toro archipelago is a captivating destination with so much to do. These Panamanian islands abound with stunning vistas and fantastic adventures. Start planning your trip and try out these top things to do in Bocas del Toro, Panama!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Hannah is a freelance writer, list making aficionado, and world traveler currently based in Germany. She is an avid explorer, and believes in creating new experiences to put on her bucket list to...Read more

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