Walking down the streets of Bocas Town, you'll see a lot of backpackers and other adult tourists, as well as local children.  With so much to do in the Bocas del Toro region, it's helpful to narrow down the choices for those traveling with children.  The experience below comes from traveling to Bocas with a one and four year old.

Things To Do:

  • Starfish Beach is a kid favorite.  Even in high surf season, the water is calm and it's easy for anyone to spot the dozens, maybe hundreds of large starfish in the water.  The beach is nice, and there will likely be other children to play with.  It's a short boat ride to Bocas del Drago, where there are a few restaurant options.
  • Crawl Key has water as smooth as glass for snorkeling.  There is no beach to play on, but thre is a large dock space with shaded areas.  You may wish to bring a floatation device for a child to use while snorkeling; some people (even adults) layed across open life jackets to ease the floating.  For non-swimming kids, they can look down and see the fish swimming below the pier, and if you're lucky, someone will throw some shrimp shells into the water where the kids can watch a feeding frenzy.
  • Punta Vieja also has calm waters, beach, and snorkeling, but is more difficult to get to.
  • Oreba Chocolate Tours offered a great jungle hike and informative tour.  While the details of the chocolate processing may go above the heads of the "shorter" tourists, even young children enjoy seeing the animals and tasting chocolate!
  • Up In The Hill is a restaurant that can be accessed via a 1/2 mile jungle hike from Old Town on Bastimentos.  The owners are quite friendly and have children of their own - they even invited some visiting kids to play in the (wading) pool with them.  You could continue down to Wizard Beach, but this beach tends to have high surf, riptides, and has the reputation of petty theft on the beach.
  • Red Frog Beach is easily accessible by water taxi, and is a pretty beach with nice sand.  It can have rough surf and riptides as well, but it's very shallow, especially on the right side of the beach (if you are looking toward the ocean).  There are also restaurant options - the Palmar has inexpensive juice drinks for a snack.

Places to Stay:

  • Some hostels and hotels specifically say they don't allow children.  You may find a rental house to be the most efficient form of lodging, giving you ample space and flexibility.  Rentals can be found on vbro.com as well as Bocas Vacations and other similar sites. 
  • Bocas Town can be quite busy; Isla Colon is the only island with true roads and cars.  Carenero is a nice alternative in that it's quiet, yet still offers plenty of lodging and restaurant options.  Bastimentos is more quiet and further away, and offers fewer options, but more privacy and tranquility (if tranquility is to be had with young children!).

Places to Eat:

  • While most Bocas restaurants don't have high chairs for use, most are accommodating to young children.  The portions are generally large, and sharing is allowed.  Most of the grocery/convenience stores sell plain or flavored banana chips - a real favorite with the kids! 

Overall:

While traveling with children is a rarity in Bocas del Toro, it can be enjoyable and rewarding.   Many of the locals will go of their way to smile or say hello to children... the water taxis generally don't charge for young kids.  Some taxi drivers do have a preference not to take children; try to find one that does enjoy kids and build a relationship.  It makes the trip more fun for everyone.