Wondering how to visit the Nivida Bat Cave in Bocas del Toro? You’ve come to the right place.
Exploring Nivida Bat Cave is one of the most thrilling activities in Bocas. Off the beaten path, it’s not what you typically think of when you think of these tropical islands.
Within the quiet confines of the cave, you will find yourself in the company of hundreds of bats, an awe-inspiring spectacle that is both eerie and enchanting.
After visiting the cave myself, let’s get right into everything you need to know to plan your visit including how to get to the bat cave and what to wear.
About Nivida Bat Cave
Nivida Bat Cave is a hidden gem inside Bastimentos Island National Marine Park.
The cave has been run by a local family since it was discovered in the early 2000s, and one of the two brothers will guide you through the cave.
Inside the cave are hundreds of nectar bats, with most of them living close to the cave’s entrance.
The cave gets tighter the deeper in the cave you go. Choose to stay at the entrance if you don’t want to get wet or don’t like tight spaces.
It’s one of the most unique things you can do during your visit to Bocas del Toro, and was one of my favourite activities on my Panama itinerary.
How to Visit Nivida Bat Cave, Bocas del Toro
Visiting Nivida Bat Cave, Bocas del Toro is an adventure.
First, you have to get to Bocas del Toro from the mainland of Panama. Then you need to book a bat cave tour.
Once on the island of Colon, walk around the main strip of Bocas Town and you will find signs offering tours of the Bat Cave. Or you can hire a water taxi to take you if you are travelling with a group of 4 or more.
I went on a tour including snorkelling, Nivida Bat Cave, and Red Frog Beach. My tour included pick-up from my hotel on Carenero Island.
The 20-minute speedboat or water taxi from town will take you to Bahia Honda, travelling through the mangroves for 15 minutes to reach the private property. Keep your eyes out for dolphins and sloths. I saw a few of each.
Pay your small entrance fee, which includes your guide and the use of a headlamp and water shoes. I had my own adventure shoes, so I wore my own. Use the washroom if you need, gear up and get ready to hike.
The hike through the lush jungle to the cave takes 10-20 minutes, depending on what you stop to look at along the way. There are lots of beautiful bamboo and tiny frogs that you can admire. Bocas is known for their frogs after all.
Once at the entrance, turn on your headlamp and get ready to go inside.
What It’s Like Inside Nivida Bat Cave
The entrance of the cave has the majority of the bats. Look up and you’ll see that most of them are sleeping, but there are a few that will be flying around the cave. It’s really cool to see them active!
Tip: Don’t look up with your mouth open. You don’t want anything to fall into your mouth.
The cave itself is incredibly dark, so the headlights from your guide and your group will be the only light to see. The smaller your group, the less light there will be, but it really adds to the experience. Less light makes taking pictures more difficult, so we used each other’s headlights to aim where we wanted light for photos.
Tip: When taking photos with your headlamp, don’t look directly at the camera or it will be too bright. Look off to the side a bit and make sure the person taking your photo also doesn’t look directly at you with their light.
After a few minutes of walking in ankle-deep water, you will come to a large rock, where you can leave any items that can’t get wet behind, along with your water bottles, and cameras (if they aren’t waterproof). From here, the water only gets deeper.
Most of the hike has knee-to-chest-deep water, depending on your height (I’m 5’4).
At the end of the hike is a small waterfall with a small deep pool that you can swim in. At this point, there are no more bats. During my tour, my boyfriend and I were the only ones who swam and the others in our group relaxed.
We thought it would be really cool to turn off the lights, so we got everyone to turn off their headlamps to see how dark it really was. It was pitch black! Once we turned them back on, we hiked back out the way we came in towards the entrance of the caves.
The bat cave part of the tour lasted 1 hour, including the hike to and from the cave. It was such a fun activity and I loved seeing all the bats!
What to Wear & Bring to Nivida Bat Cave
- Swimwear or clothes that can get wet (not your nicest swimwear)
- Water shoes (if you have them, or use the ones provided)
- Waterproof camera or a waterproof phone case
- Water bottle
- Reef safe sunscreen
- Dry bag or backpack
FAQs about Bats in Panama
Are There Bats in Bocas del Toro?
Yes, there are bats in Bocas del Toro, particularly in the Nivida Bat Cave. Bats control insect populations and pollinate plants, so it’s interesting to see them in their natural habitat.
How Many Species of Bats are in Panama?
There are over 100 species of bats in Panama, including the Common Vampire Bat, Jamaican Fruit Bat and many more.
Final Thoughts on Nivida Bat Cave in Bocas del Toro
Nivida Bat Cave Bocas del Toro offers an unforgettable, adventurous experience.
From trekking through waist-deep water to swimming in serene pools and observing bats in their natural habitat, each moment is filled with thrill and wonder.
The cave tour is not just about the bats, it’s about embracing the unknown, immersing yourself in the raw beauty of nature, and appreciating the often overlooked yet vital role that bats play in our ecosystem.
So, if you’re in Bocas del Toro and on the lookout for a unique adventure, the Nivida Bat Cave is a must-visit destination.
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- How to Visit Nivida Bat Cave, Bocas del Toro