Where to stay in Bocas del Toro, a fascinating Panamanian group of islands
Wonderful nature, fascinating coral reefs, and gorgeous beaches—Bocas del Toro has it all. This idyllic island has become Panama’s hotspot, and for a good reason. The area has plenty of entertainment and relaxation options to offer and it is still relatively affordable. With its interesting cuisine, secluded beaches, and friendly vibe, we’re sure Bocas del Toro will win your heart.
Photo credit: bocasdeltoro.panama
5 best neighborhoods to stay in Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is a wonderful province and whichever area you choose, you won’t regret it. It all comes down to your own preferences and needs. Bocas del Toro has both urban, lively places and peaceful, noiseless areas. To help you pick the best destination, we have selected our favorite places:
- Bocas Town
- Isla Colon
- Isla Carenero
- Big Creek
- The western part of Bocas Town
Our picks were based on these criteria:
- Natural beauty and beaches
- Fun things to see and do
- Cost of staying
|Where to stay in Bocas del Toro|
|Best for nightlife||Bocas Town||The epicenter of bars, clubs, and restaurants on the islands|
|Best for your first visit||Isla Colon||The biggest island in the province with a wide range of accommodation and entertainment options|
|Best for bohemian souls||Isla Carenero||A peaceful surfers’ paradise with outstanding nature|
|Best on a budget||Big Creek||An affordable area close to the town|
|Best for a long-term stay||The western part of Bocas Town||A neighborhood in the town, less noisy than the eastern part|
Photo credit: bocasdeltoro.panama
Where to stay in Bocas del Toro for nightlife: Bocas Town
Bocas Town is the biggest town on Isla Colon and the major urban center of Bocas del Toro Province. Unlike other parts of the island, Bocas Town doesn’t have beautiful beaches and magnificent nature. Still, it is the most vibrant part of the island. This tiny town is where you will find most bars, pubs, and beach restaurants. Its nightlife is fantastic and you can attend parties that you’ll remember for years to come.
Where to spend your evenings in Bocas Town
Bocas Town has a lot of nightlife options to offer so you will easily find places that suit your own needs. From live gigs and lively dancefloors to casual bars and pubs, whatever your inner party animal craves, the town will provide it for you. If you want to have a great time in Bocas Town, make sure to visit these places:
- Bocas Bookstore Bar
- Bocas Pub Cruise
- Bom Bom Beach Bar
- Summer Beach Club
Summer Beach Club
If you’re looking for a wild beach party with lots of people, delicious cocktails, and amazing DJs, Summer Beach Club is a place you shouldn’t miss. The atmosphere is incredible and the dancefloor is crowded at all times. The music is mostly what you can hear on current top charts but you may also discover some local hits. The club is open until 3 am so you don’t need to worry about the party ending early.
Photo credit: summerbocasdeltorro
Where to stay in Bocas Town
Bocas Town has hundreds of hotels, hostels, and AirBnBs to offer. On average, one night will cost you around $60. Check out our favorite places:
Budget option: this whole home in the center.
Midrange option: a private room in this tropical B&B.
Luxurious option: this wonderful room in a cozy guesthouse.
Browse for more options here.
Where to stay in Bocas del Toro for the first time — Isla Colon
Isla Colon is the main island in the Bocas del Toro Province. It is home to many wonderful beaches, cute little neighborhoods, and fantastic scenery. The island has plenty of beach activities to offer and is one of the favorite surfers’ destinations. Since it is rather small, you can move around the island easily and see all the best places on your first visit.
What to see and do on Isla Colon
Isla Colon is full of fantastic tourist destinations. On this amazing island, you can explore stunning beaches, enjoy its natural wonders, and experiment with the local cuisine. Whatever your heart desires, you will find it on Isla Colon. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas of what you could see and do:
- Boca del Drago
- Playa Bluff
- Reserva natural
- Istmito Beach
- Bocas Town
Playa Bluff is a gorgeous, eight kilometers long beach that looks like a place you could see on a postcard. This beach paradise is known for its golden sand and coconut trees. The beach is not overcrowded and there are only a couple of bars and restaurants. If you want to try out your surfing skills or get away from the noisy tourist crowds, Playa Bluff may be an ideal place for you.
Photo credit: scottytaylor
Where to stay on Isla Colon
Prices vary from village to village and you can choose between high-end and more affordable places. Check out our top picks:
Budget option: this lovely house near Boca del Drago.
Midrange option: this fantastic house near Bluff Beach.
Luxurious option: this wonderful villa on Boca del Drago beach.
You don’t like these places? Check out other options here.
Where to stay in Bocas del Toro for bohemian souls: Isla Carenero
Isla Carenero is a small island near Isla Colon with outstanding historical significance. It is where Christopher Colombus and his crew spent a couple of months during their 1502 trip to the New World. The island is gorgeous: nature is pristine, the beaches, picturesque, and waves ideal for both the beginner and expert surfers. As the island is a bit off the beaten path, you will enjoy a peaceful and relaxing stay. What makes things even better is that it won’t take you more than two minutes in the water taxi to get to Bocas Town.
What to do on Isla Carenero
Although the island is known for its laid back lifestyle, there are plenty of interesting things to do. Its greatest strong points are surfing, snorkeling, and kayaking. There are also several amazing restaurants specializing in seafood. In case you’re wondering where to go first, check out these places and activities:
- Bibi’s On the Beach
- Leaf Eaters Cafe
- Bocas Stand Up Paddle Club
- Escuela del Mar Surf School
Bocas Stand Up Paddle Club
Bocas Stand Up Paddle Club is Isla Carenero’s main attraction and is absolutely amazing! During these water tours, you will get to explore hidden beaches, coral reefs, and all the beauty of the Panamanian Carribean. This adventure is both exciting and eco-friendly, so it’s something no nature lover should miss.
Photo credit: bocasstanduppaddleclub
Where to stay on Isla Carenero
Isla Carenero is full of wonderful accommodation options and one night costs around $100 on average. Check out our top picks:
Budget option: a suite in this colorful hotel.
Midrange option: a comfy room in a beach house.
Luxurious option: this amazing house on the beach.
You can browse for more options here.
Where to stay in Bocas del Toro on a budget: Big Creek
Big Creek is a southern area on Isla Colon, connected to Bocas Town by Istmito Beach. This area is perfect for staying as it is peaceful but close to the town. Big Creek has several large resorts but most of the accommodation options are affordable family-owned hostels and AirBnBs.
What to do in Big Creek
Although Bocas Town is where you will find the most interesting activities, Big Creek has some interesting locations to offer. Check out our favorite spots:
- Finca Los Monos Botanical Garden
- Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Bocas del Toro Research Station
- Istmito Beach
Finca Los Monos Botanical Garden
If you love animals or flowers, Finca Los Monos Botanical Garden should be one of your first stops. The garden is home to adorable sloths and playful howler monkeys. You will also see wonderful flowers of all shapes and sizes.
Photo credit: alexandrawick
Where to stay in Big Creek
In Big Creek, you will easily find accommodation that suits your needs and budget. Check out our favorite places:
Budget option: this private room in a guesthouse.
Midrange option: this eco-friendly bungalow.
Luxurious option: this fantastic villa.
You can browse for more AirBnBs here.