There are literally too many awesome things to do in Bocas del Toro to list. But we tried anyway.
Looking for beaches and affordable Caribbean beauty? Looking for a winter destination to get away from the cold dreary season? Pack a bag and head to Bocas del Toro. Seriously.
This tropical paradise, located in northern Panama near the Costa Rican border, offers a wealth of sandy beaches. And so much more. Golden sun, azure waves, verdant jungles, and breath taking views await. Anyone with the slightest interest in exploring island beauty will find a thousand and one things to do in Bocas del Toro.
The Archipelago of Bocas del Toro, which consists of 6 islands and scores of tiny islets, is rapidly becoming one of Central America’s hottest beach destinations. And with good reason, if you ask us. Bocas del Toro is one of the most beautiful places we have ever visited.
During our three weeks in Bocas del Toro we fell in love with the islands, and the relaxed Caribbean vibe that permeates every inch of them. It’s pretty hard not to fall in love with Bocas del Toro, really. If you want to learn how to scuba dive, if you are into fishing, snorkeling, surfing, or just laying out on the beach enjoying “island life” vibes, chances are you will love Bocas del Toro too.
We put together a list of things to do in Bocas del Toro to help you visit without spending a ton of money. We urge you to explore the island on your own as well, and let us know if we missed anything you think everyone should check out!
To learn how to keep costs down during your visit, and to find out about the best hostels in Bocas del Toro, check out our guide on how to travel on a budget in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
You might also want to check out the hotels and hostels below if you want to save some of your budget while in Bocas!
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Where to Stay in Bocas del Toro, Panama
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Best Hotel in Bocas del Toro – Selina Hostels
Selina Hostel is the highest rated hostel in Bocas Town and it’s easy to see why. The boutique hostel is centrally located near popular bars and restaurants, they have a waterfront deck, a restaurant & bar, and a fully equipped shared kitchen.
They offer services like bike and quad rentals, and dive trips, surf lessons, and island tours. Guests can choose from private rooms and dorm beds, and breakfast is included. Click here to book or read their reviews.
Best Budget Hotel in Bocas del Toro – Barrbra B&B
If you’re looking for the best mid-range hotel in Bocas del Toro, look no further.
Barrbra B&B is a cozy two-story hotel built directly on the sea just a 15 minute walk from Bocas Town. The small hotel offers rooms with either private or shared bathrooms and has a communal living room, dining room, kitchen, and terrace for guests. Barrbra B&B is the perfect place to relax but the friendly hosts are always happy to arrange activities like cycling, surfing, or snorkeling.
So if you want to avoid staying in a hostel and prefer a relaxed mid-range hotel check out Barrbra B&B. Click here to book or read their reviews.
Find Great Rates on the Best Hotels in Bocas del Toro with Booking.com!
Things to do in Bocas del Toro, Panama
Visit Gorgeous Little Isla Zapatillas
One of the more attractive beach destinations in Bocas del Toro, this tiny island is a Caribbean paradise. Calm waters on one side of the island make for some great coastal snorkeling, while the sands on the other side of the island are a great place to relax and have a picnic. Simply put, visiting this gorgeous little island should be on top of your list of things to do in Bocas del Toro.
Many tour companies in Bocas Town will take you here in conjunction with a snorkeling trip or some dolphin watching, but we recommend hiring a boat for the day for about $20 per person and heading straight to Zapatillas. This way you avoid scaring the poor dolphins, which are chased by the tour company boats to give tourists a small glimpse of fin and tail. Plus you have the whole day to enjoy this splendid island.
Bring your own food and drink as there are no restaurants or shops on the island!
Find Great Rates on the Best Hotels in Bocas del Toro with Booking.com!
Things to Do in Bocas del Toro – Chill Out on Starfish Beach
This beach is on the western end of the Island, just a short and beautiful 15 minute walk from the Bocas del Drago bus stop, and is a great little getaway from the concrete of Bocas Town.
True to its name, on most days the water is calm and filled with starfish. You can buy some food on the spot, or pack your own lunch to enjoy. Bring a snorkel as the calm waters make for great swimming, and you can even spot mantas if you are lucky!
The shuttle bus from Bocas Town is $5.00 return but can be pretty slow and overly crowded. If you have several people going a better option is to negotiate a good return rate with a taxi driver.
Get Limber with Yoga at Bocas Yoga
If you have ever done yoga or even just wanted to try it you can’t miss taking a class at Bocas Yoga. Instructor and owner Laura Kay guides you through what we found to be one of the best yoga class we have ever taken. Laura’s style is laid back, informal, fun and uplifting. She concentrates on back strength and alignment and has a way of making everyone feel comfortable no matter what level you are at.
The classes are a steal at only $6.00, and there is no need to reserve a spot in advance!
Rent a Bike and Cycle to Paki’s Point and Punta Bluff
Renting bicycles and cruising around the main island of Bocas del Toro was one of our favorite things to do.
It takes about a hour to bike from Bocas Town to Punta Bluff, and the ride itself is worth every minute. Make sure to stop at Paki’s Point, the half way mark of this trip, to hang at a cool bar/restaurant. You kick back with a beer, or rent a board and try the surf.
After taking a break keep cycling north along the coast to Punta Bluff. This scenic spot sports tall powerful waves that only the most adventurous of surfers would attempt to ride. Beware of the rip tides here, swimming is NOT safe or recommended.
Get PADI Certification on Bocas del Toro for Around $250!
Few places in the world offer cheaper PADI Scuba Diving certification than some of the companies based in Bocas del Toro. For the aspiring diver this is simply a deal that is not to be missed.
The average course lasts three and a half days and includes 6 dives. If you are unsure of your desire to dive you can take a $60 introduction class that includes a shallow water dive and then a deep water dive. If you feel like you’d like to continue towards full certification the price of the introduction is deducted from the over all cost. Win Win!
Chow Down on Veggie Food at Leaf Eaters Cafe
Vegetarians, vegans, and meat eaters alike will all find something on the menu at Leaf Eaters Cafe they can fall in love with at this family run spot.
This rustic cafe offers a small, yet delicious, daily menu which always includes at least one veggie burger. Try the Hippie Bowl when you go, it’s packed full of brown rice and veggies and is tossed with a lemon tahini sauce. Yum!
This is certainly the spot for vegans in Bocas del Toro.
Things to Do in Bocas del Toro – Snorkel the Reefs of Bocas del Toro
You can’t visit Bocas and not go snorkeling! It’s literally one of the most amazing things you can do in Bocas del Toro that doesn’t involve an oxygen tank.
Bocas Town is rife with companies that will take you out into the clear waters of the archipelago for a day or half a day to visit numerous reefs and marine life spots. The average price for these ranges from $20 – $35 per person. Some include food and beverages while others are nothing more than transportation. Ask around and haggle for the best price you can find.
If you have your own gear you can also hire a local boatman to take you out and around.
Things to Do in Bocas del Toro – Hop on a Boat to Red Frog Beach
This long strip of magnificent beach is located on Isla Bastimentos which is just a short boat ride from Bocas Town.
The tranquil Red Frog lays on the edge of a thick tropical forest and has soft sand, clear warm water, and a couple of bars.
The boat ride will cost you $7.00 for a round trip and admission to the island is $3.00.
Get Involved in Sea Turtle Conservation in Bocas del Toro
Visit the Sea Turtle Nesting Booth located on Second Street in Parque Simón Bolívar under the “Ministerio de Trabajo” to sign up for a tour of the Bluff Beach Municipal Reserve. See approximately 250 leatherback turtle nests, 100 hawksbill nests and 1-5 green turtle nests.
The guided tours are given at night and start at Playa Bluff Beach at 9:00 pm and end around 11:00 pm and are only $15.00. Transportation to Playa Bluff is not included.
Quench Your Thirst at Bocas Brewery
Thirsty for some damn good beer? Bocas Brewery is right outside of Bocas Town and serves up cold delicious brews on tap.
Just what the doctor ordered if you have been on the road for awhile and are craving a freshly brewed beverage. Order up a plate of empanadas and wash them down with the yummy Pale Ale or the Ginger beer and kick back on their sea side patio. This was one of our favorite things to do in Bocas during the afternoons, and we think you guys will enjoy it as well!
So there you have it guys, our guide of things to do in Bocas del Toro without blowing your budget. Please let us know if you think we missed something! As always, safe travels and we hope to see you on the road!
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13 thoughts on “Things to Do in BOCAS DEL TORO Panama – 10 SPECTACULAR Treasures”
Great post. A lot of people come to Bocas and never make it off of the mail Island. Biking is such a big thing in Bocas and its just really cool to have one to roll around on while you are there. My favorite place to eat was the chicken man who’s right across the road from Iguana. We did some other cool stuff in Bocas you can check out here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65vUlYAA-gw if you want.
Thanks for the info!
JUBRIL! I’m going to Panama in May. Saw this blog post on pinterest. I scroll down and the first comment I see is from you; my buddy from RMHS! Hilarious!!! I’ve bookmarked this post but I can’t wait to check out your youtube video as well.
Ha! Another friendly-fan– just booked Bocas for next summer and was bookmarking tips and activities and here you are! I’ll be bugging you on Facebook before my departure!
I liked the atmosphere of Bocas del Toro, even though we were only there one day. I unfortunately had a cycling accident going down a rock and sand path on our way to Bluff beach, in which I broke my big toe and got pretty scratched up on both legs, both hands and one arm!! The pain (bleeding cuts, ripped toenail, bruises etc) prevented me from really enjoying the beach once we got there (I kept biking as we were so close by then!) and was a huge inconvenience through the next three weeks of traveling around Central America!
Beautiful place still though, just make sure your bike actually has brakes 😉
Ps. Not sure why I just said one day, I meant THREE days, but only on the main island (mostly due to injury).
Not a backpacker budget vacation destination anymore…bring more a lot money, things have changed.
Good info. Very helpful. Thanks for sharing. Where did you go (which company) for the $250 PADI certification, and is it Open Water?
the Bocas Diving Pirates offer PADI certification for $250 or $260- I forget. I was there yesterday.
And yes, Open Water 🙂
Think an update is needed on Starfish Beach. Seeing it listed as the prettiest beach on multiple websites we made it our first stop. The beach looks as spectacular as the pictures show. However, what you don’t see is the sand is mixed with millions of shards of fiberglass sloughing off from all the boats that pull up directly onto the beach. I immediately got what felt like tiny pieces of glass in my feet. Then after playing in the surf me and my three boys got bathing suits full of shards, it felt like we had dozens of glass slivers stuck to our butts. It was TERRIBLE and we cut our jaunt short. The only one of our crew that had a pleasant experience was my husband who took a nap on a towel and stayed there. The kids made up swear to not ever take them back. It was a disappointing start. We had much better luck at beaches where boats couldn’t pull up on the sand.
Hi Jasmin, that is incredibly sad news. Yet another reason why responsible travel is so important. This kind of thing could easily be avoided if certain restrictions were in place and the beaches were protected and treated with respect. Thank you for the update for our future readers, and I hope the rest of your time in Bocas is much much better.
Nice post! Where to rent a boat in bocas town or Bastimento island for $20 per person? Would love to explore the islands and snorkel around with friends by roaming around on a private boat. Thanks for sharing!
Where do I get this 15$ nightwalk with the turtles?