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Had a horrible time in Bocas : (

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
3 posts
12 reviews
Had a horrible time in Bocas : (

I only wish I had time to read TA before going to Bocas...

My hubby & I visited Panama 2 years ago and spent 2 weeks in Santa Catalina & we had a great time. It was clean, not crowded, the locals were nice & hotels were affordable. Hubby loved it so much he considered buying property there.

We returned to panama January 2nd, 2013, and wanted to revisit Santa Catalina but the surf conditions wasn't good enough. After pre-paying for a week at Morro Negrito surf camp, we arrived to a totally different (and worse) hotel than was advertised on their site. (Total bait & switch. Please avoid Morro Negrito surf camp). Please see my review for details.

Someone in Panama City informed us that the surf was better in bocas, so we went there. We stayed a few nights in bocas town. The local men were very flirtatious & aggressive with me.

It was a hassle to even buy groceries. The men were everywhere and did not leave me alone if my husband wasn't right there with me.

Garbage everywhere & after a few days my entire body was covered in mosquito bites. The regular strength . insect repellant was useless! The sand flies were horrible and their bites were painful.

Prices of food was overpriced for the quality that I received.

The nightclubs were full of drug dealers and that worsened the experience for me.

Bocas is a great destination for surfing and surfing only. The surf was really good for a week, but the waves were crowded. I only wish we left as soon as the swell dropped.

We then spent a week in Bastimentos, Red Frog beach. The locals were much nicer, but the food was terrible (at Bocas Bound) & we were extremely bored.

It was the worst vacation ever & we will never return to Bocas. There are much better options for a relaxing, tranquil, clean tropical getaway that's close to the USA.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
2,253 posts
6 reviews
1. Re: Had a horrible time in Bocas : (

First question, why would you stay at Bocas Bound for a week if it bored you??

Bocas Del Toro is a very large area with Bocas Town only being a very very small part of it. If you only go where the tourists expect to get over charge for bad quality stuff. There are many other parts of Bocas, including a large chunk of mainland that does not involve surfing and night clubs that. are clean and wonderful.

Also there are many surf breaks that are very lrarely visited.

Olympia, Washington
Level Contributor
321 posts
113 reviews
2. Re: Had a horrible time in Bocas : (

This is what happens when people don't research a place before they go. Almost everyone on here who has been to Bocas and knows the best places to eat, the best places to stay, the best places to visit would have given you enough information to have a wonderful time.

Bocas has some beautiful areas and I hope anyone reading your comments will do more research before deciding that your experience is what they can expect. It's not. It's unfortunate you had a bad experience but everyone on here could have given you way better information and therefore you would most likely have had a better time.

Panama City, Panama
Level Contributor
5,784 posts
75 reviews
3. Re: Had a horrible time in Bocas : (

Dear Rachel, you say:

"I only wish I had time to read TA before going to Bocas..."

As others have answered you, YES it is important to research any place you are planning to travel to in the world BEFORE you go to avoid this type of situation.

I see this alot in the All-inclusives on the Pacific beaches nearby when travelers

complain how far they had to travel to see the sites from Farallon. Or they often

complain that they could not snorkel off their "resort" because the water was murky. If only they had done a little research and knew these facts PRIOR to booking travel to them.

I am so sorry for your experience.

You also say you had visited Panama before and that your husband loved Santa Catalina; but there are no posts about this trip, nor any reviews for that trip on here. So basically you posted with only your bad experience in Panama and that is what bothers me.....so many travelers waiting to only post negative comments, instead of the comments regarding the good points and things they loved..

Hopefully you will take the time before your next trip to do a little research prior to traveling to avoid this in the future.

Edited: 12:29 pm, January 26, 2013
Level Contributor
3,977 posts
135 reviews
4. Re: Had a horrible time in Bocas : (

That really sucks you had such a bad time. I am sorry. It is true, Bocas is not for everyone. As someone who gets chewed up from mosquitoe and no seeums I know that can ruin a trip. One of my favorite traveling companions won't go to Bocas anymore because she just won't take the neccessary precautions to avoid the no seeums or mosquitoes. For me Bocas is worth it, but like I said Bocas is not for everyone.

Washington DC...
Level Contributor
186 posts
147 reviews
5. Re: Had a horrible time in Bocas : (

Thank you for your post. I will be visiting Bocas next month alone and have done a lot of research on TA and other sites so I am aware of the sand flies and got insect repel with 100% deet. I also read about the nightclubs which honestly I won't go to. I also found some good restaurants that I think I may enjoy from TA.

I didn't know that the men were that aggressive there. I'm used to flirtatious men but not overly aggressive. I guess I'll have to learn to say " get away from me " in Spanish because I really want to relax not be hounded.

Level Contributor
111 posts
136 reviews
6. Re: Had a horrible time in Bocas : (

We are sorry and it is unfortunate you had a bad experience in Bocas del Toro. A reputable hotel could have provided you with better information and therefore you would have had a better time by choosing more appropriate options.

Even when researching about your foreign destination you will find inherent biases They often evangelize what they love and trash what they hate. There are many accomodations available that don't have mosquito's and chitras. Since Bocas del Toro is an island, like Hawaii, prices will be inevitably higher.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, women can be 60 years old and still get whistles in Latin America. One is wise to be conservatively clothed when walking into any public place, but obviously by your darling picture on TA that's the way others found you too! You don't need to speak Spanish to advise people to leave you alone, especially when English is a prominent spoken language in Isla Colon.

Open up the 12 page spread in the Conde Nast Traveler print issue,Jan 2013, and you can discover the part of Bastimentos you missed~ The Bliss of the Bocas!

Oakland, California
Level Contributor
723 posts
104 reviews
7. Re: Had a horrible time in Bocas : (

It's a shame people are criticizing you for sharing your experience honestly. I have heard very mixed reports on Bocas. The sand flies in various parts of the Caribbean are a very dirty little secret that those who profit from tourism try to keep secret. I hope your next vacation makes up for this last one.

Panama City, Panama
Level Contributor
5,784 posts
75 reviews
8. Re: Had a horrible time in Bocas : (

That is the first time I had heard about the men harrassing a woman in Bocas Town and I think it is a downright SHAME & someone needs to put a stop to it.

I had never heard it before on here ! I would love to hear what others from Bocas say about this particular incidence.. Is that prevalent?

The no-see-ums are the worst of all of them, anywhere in the world. If they like you, you are SUNK! I agree, but it is not a secret. It is talked about on this forum openly advising to always be protected and that some islands are better than others.

We lived in the states in St. Augustine, a pristine Spanish town in the historic district oldest city in U.S. We profited from tourism back then and I still shared about having no-see-ums. Not just in the Caribbean.. The no-see-ums were terrible there too. I think it is everywhere in the "tropics." My garden especially was horrendous.

Be warned we also have no-see-ums in the Pacific beaches (Coronado, Farallon, Sancarlos areas here in Panama. Especially at dusk and dawn. No secret.

Courtenay, Canada
Level Contributor
911 posts
205 reviews
9. Re: Had a horrible time in Bocas : (

Man I have never been anywhere and had a horrible time!! Seems odd 😁😁

Bluffton, South...
Level Contributor
6 posts
11 reviews
10. Re: Had a horrible time in Bocas : (

My husband and I just returned from our trip to Bocas 2-01-13 to 2-09-13.I agree the town is loaded with trash-the mayor according to the locals did not pay the trash bill-very unattractive-I witnessed rats.Disappointed with all the sand flee's -I had extensive bites -even after using deet.I stayed in Canerro island Peter Kents house-was disappointed by the beach rip tides.I would advise going to star fish beach and sail away catameran trip.We had a guard at our house-there is crime on this beach.All of us got sick due to the water.Loved Panama City Casco .I would advise people to avoid Bocas until it gets cleaned up.