I am just a Hippie Island girl at heart, and nothing has ever made that more apparent than my stay in Bocas del Toro, Panama this month. My heart felt so full as we first arrived on the Caribbean side of the mainland in Almirante. It was the first time I’d seen the Caribbean! We hopped into a long tail boat that reminded me of the ones I became so accustomed to in Thailand, and already I felt at home!
Our first stop was the island of Bastimentos where I stayed for almost two full weeks. The first thing I really appreciated was how much my sleep improved! I thoroughly enjoyed being lulled to sleep by the ocean waves. Sleep is so much better near or on the water, don’t you think?
It’s easy to get to and from the main island (Bocas) from any of the neighbor islands, like Bastimentos where I stayed first. It cost $3 one-way before sunset and $5 after (incentive to get home early and get your rest!) and I did so every other day.
There are a few shops on Bastimentos but not rich in selection like you can find on the main island, so it’s worth the trip if you need to pick something up. Prices are just slightly less than in the states, which surprised me a bit. Word of the wise if you’re coming to Panama: budget more than you did for other countries in Central or South America. There are many expats living in Panama so you won’t find low prices like in Colombia, for example, but you will find paradise and that’s worth the cost!
There were many highlights of my time here on the islands, but I wanted to put together a favorites list since many of you have messaged me and for info about the islands.
Below are my favorite places to eat, sleep and beach- all the fundamentals for beachside happiness if you ask me!
El Último Refugio ($$)
Fun vibe (live music almost every night) and absolutely delicious food. We had the roasted beet salad, snapper fillet, gnocchi and lobster risotto. Each dish was mouthwateringly delicious and I couldn’t stop eating, even when I was full!
We finished everything and then Katharine, the owner, suggested we try their famous dessert Snickers peanut butter pie, and I could not stop eating it, even though I was stuffed full. My only regret was not fasting the entire day before so I could eat more!
My favorite cocktail on the islands was here at El Ultimo Refugio- the Maracuya Margarita. Absolutely delicious! [wpvideo 5vHBvYKh ]
Buena Vista ($)
Great place to have a laid back, comfort food packed meal and a fruity cocktail while looking out over the water. Mexican food and a “Margarita Fuerte” are a big YES in my book.
Buena Vista has a great staff and location (right on the water in Bocas Town).
La Rosa, Red Frog Beach Resort ($$)
Pure bliss accompanied by beautiful dishes and views for days. The Executive Chef is a former fashion designer turned food connoisseur, and his dishes are more than delicious, they are beautiful too! I could eat here every single day, but that would really put a damper on my travel plans because I wouldn’t go anywhere! The appetizers, decked out in edible flowers, were almost too pretty to eat. Then the cocktails were icing on the cake.
Leaf Eaters ($)
When you really need a delicious and healthy meal after too much fun in Bocas Town. This place felt really relaxed and the food was reenergizing. Vegetarian and vegan options can be hard to find in Panama, so this place was quite a treat! Francesca, the owner has lived on the islands for about 14 years. She’s a complete sweetheart with quite a life story. I throughly enjoyed chatting with her while we tasted all the amazing dishes.
The cafe is a two minute boat ride from Bocas Town ($1 one way) and has dock access. How great is it to take a boat straight up to your lunch spot?!
- Hotel Caribbean View ($$)Bamboo House ($$)Red Frog Beach Resort ($$$)Colon (Main Island)
- Gran Hotel Bahia ($$)
Bocas del Toro certainly lived up to “the hype” in my opinion. I’ve been wanting to come to Panama for what feels like forever and I was so happy to spend most of my time in the country on the islands. For me, island life is THE WAY of life. I have so much love and respect for the people that live on these islands and appreciate the beauty that surrounds them.
Thank you for sharing your special islands with me people of Bocas! I’ll be thinking about this experience for many years to come.
Be sure to watch the YouTube episode from my time here, and subscribe to my brand new channel @ She Goes Global.