BASICS

Bocas del Toro is on the western edge of Panama about 25 miles from Costa Rica. The province covers a portion of the mainland as well as an Archipelago of some 68 tropical islands. The islands vary in size and population. Isla Colon is the most populated island and includes Bocas Town and the airport for the entire Archipelago. Isla Carenero also has a fair population with several places to stay. Isla Bastimentos has a small town on one end, a large marine national park, several eco resorts on various parts of the island, a few resdiential areas and individuals living on the small parcels as well as indian villages. Isla Solarte has a few places to stay, indian villages, and individuals living on small parcels. Isla Popa, Cayo Agua and San Cristobal have about the same layouts as Isla Solarte. Cayos Zapatillas are two beautiful islands which are part of the Bastimentos National Marine Park. Restaurants are limited to Isla Colon, Isla Carenero and the village on Bastimentos although there are a few small places over the water woven within the other islands. Spanish is the official language in Panama, but you do not have to speak Spanish to communicate in Bocas. Due to the large population of people originally from other Carribbean islands English or some variation of it is widely spoken in Bocas.

HISTORY

Columbus came through Bocas on his fourth voyage in 1502. He spent a fair amount of time in the Archipelago and named many of the different islands and waterways. Henry Morgan and many other pirates also spent some time in Bocas as the Archipelago provided them with cover and places to reprovision their ships. Several families came to Bocas in the 19th century from various other islands in the Carribbean. In the early 20th century the United Fruit Company began doing business on both the islands and mainland of Bocas del Toro. United Fruit Company established several picturesque towns for its operations. It wasn't until sometime around 1999 that there was a road all the way from Panama City into the various towns on the mainland of Bocas del Toro. Up until that time all travel to Bocas was either via boat or airplane so in effect Bocas was cut off from the rest of Panama as its own "Wild West".

TRAVEL

You can get to Bocas del Toro via airplane from several places within Panama or from San Jose, Costa Rica. Each domestic airlines travel to Bocas from Panama City about 2 times a day - early in the morning and in the afternoon. Several airlines fly from San Jose a few days a week. You can also travel to Bocas via land and water taxi. Most international flights into Panama City arrive late in the day and make it difficult to travel all the way to Bocas in one day although this is changing more and more each day. Panama City is a truly unique place to visit and should be considered a destination of its own rather than just a required layover.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Bocas del Toro has accommodations to match every kind of traveler and most every kind of budget - except that there are no big resorts to be found in the Archipelago. For people wanting to interact with a fair number of other travelers, try eating at different restaurants each day and enjoy some nightlife, then you should stay on Isla Colon, Isla Carenero or in Bastimentos Town. If you want to experience the natural setting of the Archipelago and all it has to offer then you should be looking at one of the places on Bastimentos or some of the other islands to stay.

WEATHER

Bocas del Toro is in the middle of the rainforest. It rains here - but the rain doesn't put a damper on the beauty and what all the area has to offer. It is difficult to tell you when the best time of year to travel to Bocas is these days. Historically, June, July and August are rainy as are December and January. Now - over the past few years the rainy months are changing. There is no pattern to it due to the changes in the global environment, Las Ninas, Los Ninos, global warming - you name it. Most of the rain in the area occurs at night and allows us to have this lush jungle and rainforest to enjoy. It averages about 80 to 85 degrees farenheit with about 70 percent humidity all year round.