Straight from the Bull's mouth (?)

Published: April 17th 2018
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The title here is shrouded in enigma, though I am referring to an enclave of islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama collectively known as Bocas Del Toro or 'mouths of the bull' to cite its English translation. In this instance, the journey to get there was as memorable as could have been expected, as a tiny prop jet carrying a total of passengers barely in double figures got us to the airport at Bocas Town, seemingly, an airport and runway which the town proper seems to have moulded itself around. Initial impressions were colourful ones, largely due to the striking colours which characterize the main town, and a choice of a condo a short-ish drive from the centre was, in this case, an inspired one, simply because hustle, bustle and noise is best avoided when sleep is actually a requirement for the nature of activities on offer, and the amount of nervous energy which they might use up. So, day one unfolded in spectacular style, and a boat trip to Cayos Zapatillos is a truly phenomenal way of enjoying the cream of Panama's beaches, and combining this with scope for snorkeling and seeing the area's marine life. Tour operators seem to specialize in these kinds of excursions, and you'd be wise to select the more attractive options from what is available, simply because there is something of a guaranteed enjoyment factor involved therein. Picking up a quad or push-bike is no tough task either, and cycling to nearby Bluff beach was a joy to behold, especially considering the secluded and pristine nature of the beach and the relative ease involved in reaching the beach. Eateries abound in Bocas Town, and some of these double up as watering holes for prolonged nightlife, which, in peak season, would be assumed to be throbbing to the sound of hoardes of hedonistic travellers eager to sample the best of what the main island (Colon) had to offer nightlife-wise. Another popular excursion is the trek to Bocas Del Drago, and a short hop from there to starfish beach, though it was cut out of this traveller's itinerary due to there being a limit as to how much 3 full days would allow for exploration-wise. A sub 60-second boat trip will take you from Colon to the neighbouring island of Carenero, the first reference point of which will be the Aqua Lounge nightspot. A walk along the shoreline of the island provided a morning of terrific beachcombing, and the hotels set out along the shoreline are a somewhat stark contract to the very ramshackle nature of the residents' homes on the tiny island. Another (lengthier) boat trip, and you could be heading for the revered spot that is Red Frog beach on the island of Bastimentos, and there you're bound to find enough in the way of substance and beauty to while away at very least half a day of your tourist schedule's time. Back on the main island, and pure curiosity alone prompted a visit to the Om Cafe, seemingly the area's only Indian restaurant, attractive enough for its decor, as for the flavour of the dishes on offer. In a nutshell then, this was / is Bocas del Toro, and all I could realistically suggest is that, when the bull sees red and charges whilst you're in Panama, at least you might have a clearer idea of which direction to dash off into....

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