Blogs from Isla Colon, Bocas Del Toro, Panama, Central America Caribbean


Getting to the Bocas Islands from Boquete was simple, but it took about five hours. We all gathered at Hello Travel at 8am but it was a frustrating wait for departure as we finally left about 45 minutes later. The best part of four hours was spent on a minibus through spectacular mountain and forested landscapes. About three quarters of the way we stopped for a comfort break and grabbed some snacks, before the last hour of the journey to Almirante. It was chaotic at the port but soon enough we were all on a boat. It felt slightly overcrowded but not as bad as we had feared and it was about half an hour on the water over to Bocas Town on Isla Colón. Back on dry land it was a ten minute walk with ... read more
Beware of Wife!
Starfish Beach

After Panama City, I had decided to do Bocas Del Toro, considered by many as the best location on the Caribbean coast in Panama. Many give that credit to the San Blas Islands, I tend to agree. So I decided to do Bocas Del Toro before San Blas (save the best for last logic), even though it's a roundabout way of traveling (follow your heart, not the map). I flew to Bocas from Panama City and stayed on Isla Colon (the main island). Bocas has multiple islands which are accessible by water taxis. My first day at Bocas was exploring food, I was craving some India food and found a restaurant run by an Indian lady from Canada. The view from the restaurant was stunning and the food satisfying. Later in the evening I went to ... read more
Isla Colon
Isla Colon
Isla Colon

Last night was not great; the old man’s wriggling kept making the bed shake (not exactly what one has in mind vis a vis their husband making the earth move!) That, plus the noise from the a/c, which sounds like a boy racer revving up a Concorde, make sleep impossible. At 5.30 I get up, douse myself with insect repellent, fight my way through the mice in the bar to retrieve a Diet Coke, and sit on the veranda reading my Ukrainian penguin v mafia novel. It seems I’m not the only one who can’t sleep; a few minutes later the howler monkeys start their pre-dawn chorus (how can something so small make such a big noise?) and the Germans emerge with torches and announce they’re off to see the animals. By 5.45, the old man ... read more
Breakfast on the veranda
Reading in the rain
Huge scary moth

We wake up at – who knows? My iPhone is struggling to work out where the f*** we are and keeps randomly swapping between Panamanian and Costa Rican time. My watch is Bluetoothed to my phone, so the only way of finding out the time is googling ‘What time is it in Panama’? No matter, it’s impossible to sleep past dawn when the howler monkeys wake up anyway. So I get up and sit on the veranda and watch the monkeys, who are in the tree above the bar, until breakfast is served. It’s a very civilised affair – the owner lays the table on our veranda and brings pancakes with banana and chocolate, followed by eggs and toast. The old man is in 7th heaven as the fact the pancakes are covered in nutella means ... read more
Breakfast for monkeys
Breakfast for monkeys
Breakfast for monkeys

Today we’re (kind of) back on track as we’re taking our original flight to Bocas del Toro; a group of Caribbean islands just off the Panamanian coast. We had originally planned to return from there to San José by a couple of bus rides to keep costs down. But as we have only spent one night in Panama City, we will now fly back at the weekend for our rescheduled canal trip. We get up and go for breakfast. The lady next to us coughs incessantly. She sounds like she has covid, however she polishes off 5 plate fulls of food, so whatever her ailment, it certainly hasn’t affected her appetite. Breakfast is a non self-service buffet. The food is behind a screen and you have to ask servers to pass it through holes in the ... read more
Miraflores visitors’ centre
Miraflores lock
Miraflores lock

Sun 9-Mon 10 December - Day 44 to 45 - Bocas del Toro My next story is very’ interesting’. Leaving our San Jose, Costa Rican hotel at 5.30am to catch the 6.00pm bus to Panama we travelled through some mountainous area through the fog before coming out the other side onto rural plains. We travelled for 5 hours to the boarder where we were required to pay a departure tax of US$8 and to enter Panama, we only had to show our departure arrangements from Panama before getting our tourist stamp in our passports. Australians don’t need visas to visit Panama. All was going well as we got off the bus and was walking to pay our $$ to leave Costa Rica. We noticed that the whole area was a building site. Backhoes, cranes, trucks, you ... read more
Dinner at El Rerata Bocas Town on Colon Island Panama (5)
Star Fish Beach on Colon Island Panama  - Tom loving the beach
Star Fish Beach on Colon Island Panama  (8)

A rather smooth bus- and a short boat ride brought us to Bocas Town, the main town of the Bocas del Toro archipelago, on Isla Colon. Here we wanted to spend some time to take our Spanish to the next level. We booked five days of Spanish lessons for the next week and another quick water taxi to get us to Isla Bastimentos, another island of the Bocas del Toro.Everything at Isla Bastimentos is a bit more Caribbean than Panamanian, the creole people, the mixed language, the Caribbean food, the very loud music, the speed of life in general. We stayed in a wooden house above the water, which was really perfect, relaxing and had a ... read more

I'm currently sat at the airport waiting to say goodbye to Panama, so this is perfect time to catch up with my blog. Before coming on this trip all I knew of Panama was Panama City and the canal. In my mind it was a bit like Singapore - a big city, the impenetrable Durian gap and nothing much more. I was not expecting the beautiful islands, the dense rainforest and the abundance of animals on offer. First up was the border crossing - I don't know why but the Central American borders all seem to be stuck out in stupidly hot places, and usually involve a bit of a walk with all your stuff. This one was no different! After almost a month in Costa Rica where they have no army, I knew we'd got ... read more
Sunset in Bastimentos
The start of our hike

My typical underestimation of how much time I had and the stubbornness of my search for silk boxer shorts in the Albrook Mall (do they not make them anymore?! Why?) meant that I didn’t have enough time to have a shower before getting on my overnight bus to Bocas del Toro. Which is a little bit of an issue in Panama since walking around all day in hot and humid Panama City works up quite the sweat. I can’t sleep well if I am feeling disgusting but I think in this case it was more to do with the fact that this was the COLDEST BUS EVER. I asked the driver to go easy on the air-con but no dice. This was how it had to be. Some bullshit about needing to balance the temperature inside ... read more
Cayo Zapatilla
Cayo Crawl

Today might just be my first day in my 10 months of travels, that I am truly homesick. The first day that I really wish I had my family and my city. My internet is too shotty at my hostel to be able to FaceTime my family or to send out a text that doesn't take forever to send and receive without them thinking that I'm ignoring them or that I'm dead. But, I don't realize that Christmas is but five days away unless I look at the date on my phone. There are no Christmas trees here in Panama, and if there are, you don't recognize them on people's lawns. Being surrounded by heat and palm trees completely throws off the feeling of the massive family holiday that approaches, the one that I can't wait ... read more

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