Bocas del Toro, Panama | Overseas Haven Report


Bocas del Toro is a tourist town. In fact, it is often regarded as Panama’s top tourist destination—and for good reason, too. Bocas del Toro Province is one of the most pristine areas on Panama’s Caribbean coast, and tourists have started to take note of its dense rain forests, clear and clean turquoise water, and white-sand beaches.

Bocas del Toro is a province in Panama consisting of a small portion of the mainland as well as an archipelago of nine islands. It borders the Caribbean Sea to the north, Chiriquí to the south, Costa Rica to the west, and the indigenous Ngöbe-Bugle comarca to the east.

Minutes after stepping off the water taxi that takes you to Bocas Town, on the Bocas del Toro archipelago’s Isla Colón, tour guides are waiting to pounce with their offers of island hopping, scuba diving, surf lessons, ziplining, and more. Hostels, hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants, cafés, and bars surround the main seafront strip where the water taxis unload the wide-eyed visitors.

But Bocas is so much more than just tourists… The 19,000 or so residents in town consist of surfers, fishers, and entrepreneurs, including local indigenous people, Panamanians, and foreigners. Like much of Panama, Bocas is a multicultural mix.

Bocas town has a distinctly Caribbean flair (not surprisingly, given that it’s located on the Caribbean coast). Rastafarian culture is present in the music, shops, and restaurants, and Bob Marley blasts from bar speakers and adorns tourist T-shirts. Don’t be confused though. This isn’t Jamaica; Bocas Town just feels like Jamaica.

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Bocas has been regarded before as little more than a slum. To be fair, some corners of the town could leave you with that impression, but things are changing here. The government is beginning to take note of the tourism potential and is investing in infrastructure accordingly. As recently as a decade ago, paved roads, sewage treatment, and even slightly reliable electricity had yet to arrive to town. Today, Bocas is more attractive than ever before and continues to improve thanks to the locals, tourists, and foreign residents alike.

Improvements in infrastructure are ongoing and at a steady pace.

Small-scale, start-up tourism businesses have begun to take hold here, becoming the best option for a Caribbean escape in Panama. From cheap backpacker hostels and bars, to expensive forest, yoga, or adventure retreats, a trip to Bocas can be a “roughing it” experience or a luxury relaxation. Improvements in infrastructure are ongoing and at a steady pace. Even recycling has now been recognized as a necessity if they are to save their pristine sand and surf.

Come nightfall, Bocas buzzes with activity. Hostels, bars, and hostel-bars are full of visitors from around the world, eating, drinking, socializing, and enjoying live music.

You could even do business in Bocas if you know what you’re doing and can find the right market niche or demand, and do well for yourself. As for real estate, you can find properties at prices from both sides of the spectrum; old buildings from failed businesses, renovated houses, or luxurious forest mansions designed by acclaimed architects.

Bocas has beauty, charm, and progress. Bocas is never boring.

This carefree, stunning destination has a character and a magnetism all its own.

SKU: OHR-BOCAS-DEL-TORO Category: