Last updated on November 17th, 2022
Bocas del Toro is a beautiful area of Panama known for its laidback vibes and island adventures on the Caribbean Sea. The islands have a varied landscape ranging from relaxing beaches to lush rainforests and are full of unique activities and sights to experience. This list of 20 Fun Things to Do in Bocas del Toro is great for deciding what to do in this Panamanian province.
Is Bocas del Toro Worth Visiting?
Absolutely. Bocas del Toro is worth visiting in Panama because it offers scenic landscapes and a wide variety of things to see and do. Whether you are looking for something outdoors, to stay in town to eat, or go sightseeing, Bocas del Toro has it. I’ve enjoyed visiting the region so much, I’ve now been twice.
20 Fun Things to Do in Bocas del Toro
Here are 20 things to do in Bocas to add fun and adventure to your vacation:
See Colourful Coral while Scuba Diving
Having embarked on scuba dives all over the world, I knew I wanted to do some diving during my trip to Bocas del Toro! During my scuba excursion, I saw sponges, corals, stingrays, schools of fish, and so much more! I recommend scuba diving in Bocas del Toro, and you can read more about my experience diving in Panama. Many scuba diving companies in Bocas del Toro offer tours ranging in price depending on the length of the trip and your experience level. The discovery fun dives are perfect for beginners.
Walk through a Bat Cave
Sadly, Batman doesn’t live in the bat caves of Bocas del Toro, but the experience is still fascinating. All jokes aside, Bocas del Toro has caves, home to large colonies of bats. Exploring one or several of these bat caves is undoubtedly one of the most unexpected things to do in Bocas del Toro. You will see a whole other side to the region often overlooked by tourists and see how cool bats can be.
During my visit to Bocas, I toured the Nivida Bat Cave. A local family owns the Nivida Cave, but for a small entrance fee, you can enter for a guided tour. You can arrange a bat cave tour with one of the several tour companies in the area. Touring the bat cave was one of my favourite things during my trip.
Admire Starfish in their Natural Habitat
When planning what to do in Bocas del Toro, check out Starfish Beach. Starfish Beach is a picturesque section of the coastline known for its crystal-clear water, made famous for its starfish population. Due to the beach’s popularity and people touching them, the starfish have decreased in numbers, but they are still around. The starfish head to this area of Bocas del Toro for the mild, calm waters, and seeing them in their natural habitat is a fun experience. In addition to the starfish, Starfish Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Bocas, so even if you don’t visit the starfish, enjoy lounging on the beach and its clear waters.
To get to Starfish Beach, make your way to Bocas del Drago by bus or bike and then either walk down a 20-minute-long trail to the beach or hire a boat for about 1 USD. Remember not to pick up any starfish you see, as they are living creatures. During my visit to Starfish Beach, I had the whole beach to myself, which enhanced my experience.
Tour a Chocolate Farm
If you love chocolate like me, I have the perfect recommendation on what to do in Bocas. There are a few chocolate farms located throughout Bocas del Toro, where you can learn about the chocolate-making process and sample some locally-made chocolates.
Visit a Remote Island
If you want to go somewhere quiet and more remote, visit Zapatilla Island. Zapatilla Island is one of two uninhabited islands in the Bocas del Toro region, making it a secluded spot to spend the day. From the island, you might spot dolphins and starfish. There are no amenities on this island, so plan ahead and bring plenty of snacks and water. Several tour guide companies in Panama can arrange tours to show you around the island. Spend the afternoon walking along the beach and swimming in the calm waters.
Did you know Bocas del Toro is an amazing spot to experience bioluminescence firsthand? Bioluminescence is the incredible process of living organisms, such as invertebrates and bacteria, producing and emitting light. The bioluminescence throughout the Caribbean waters is truly one of the most magical things to do in Bocas del Toro. You can embark on a guided tour to see this natural phenomenon or stay at a hotel near the bioluminescence. It is best seen around the time of a new moon, and unfortunately, my visit was during the full moon, so the tour was unavailable.
Surf the Waves
Surfing is another popular activity that is one of the most fun things to do in Bocas del Toro. The surfing season in Bocas del Toro typically ranges from December through March, when the weather and waves are at their best. Colon Island is home to some of the top surfing locations in Bocas del Toro, though you can also find some great surf spots on some of the smaller islands in the area. Rent a surfboard and hire a water taxi to go surfing on your own, or take lessons through a local surf school. Unfortunately, I visited outside surf season and couldn’t try the waves.
Explore the Jungle at Red Frog Beach
Thought to be one of the most beautiful but touristy beaches in Bocas, if you are looking for a beach to visit, consider visiting Red Frog Beach on Bastimentos Island. Red Frog Beach, privately owned by a local resort, is a spot to spend an afternoon lounging in the sun, surfing, or walking on the soft sand. A lush jungle surrounds the beach, where you can spot sloths and other animals, like the famous red frogs that gave this beach its name.
After taking a water taxi to the dock, you pay an entrance fee to head along the path that leads to Red Frog Beach. If you have to choose between Red Frog Beach and Starfish Beach, I preferred Starfish Beach for its calm waters. Red Frog Beach is better for surfing than swimming.
Enjoy Street Meat in Bocas Town
Head to Bocas Town on Isla Colon to sample some delicious street food. Enjoying a variety of fresh meat dishes from the street vendors in town is undoubtedly one of the most delicious things to do in Bocas. During my visit, they had the best meat skewers and empanadas. Bocas del Toro is known for having a very relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, and the region’s food scene is no exception. Enjoy dining on yummy local cuisine from all the street food vendors and small restaurants in Bocas.
See the Bocas Nightlife
Those who enjoy staying up late to explore after dark are sure to enjoy the nightlife in Bocas. Participating in the nightlife is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and is one of the only things to do in Bocas at night. From themed bars and restaurants, to bustling clubs and music venues, Bocas del Toro has some of the best nightlife in Panama.
Look for Wild Dolphins
For an incredible experience that is considered one of the top things to do in Bocas del Toro, visit Dolphin Bay. Dolphin Bay is a small lagoon located several miles off the coast of Colon Island that is known for attracting pairs and small pods of dolphins. There is an eco-lodge along the lagoon where you can stay the night, but there are also boat tours if you prefer to visit for a short while. The best time of year to see dolphins at this spot is June and July when the waters are calm and inviting. If planning a visit to Dolphin Bay in Bocas, be kind and don’t chase them throughout the bay.
Snorkel in Caribbean Waters
Trying to figure out what to do in Bocas del Toro? Explore the underwater world by embarking on a snorkelling excursion. Snorkelling is one of the best ways to see all the sea life and corals Bocas del Toro is home to. The Caribbean waters are known for being warm and clear, perfect for both new and experienced snorkelers. Some of the best places to go snorkelling in Bocas del Toro include Admiral Bay and Hospital Point.
Enjoy Fresh Seafood
In addition to delicious street meat vendors, Bocas del Toro is also known for its fresh seafood-centric cuisine. A great variety of seafood is available throughout Bocas del Toro, ranging from shrimp to tuna and octopus. Some of the best seafood restaurants in Bocas del Toro include El Último Refugio, Bibi’s On The Beach, and The Blue Coconut Restaurant. A visit to Bocas del Toro would be incomplete without trying some fresh seafood, and the experience is one of the most essential things to do in Bocas. During my time in Bocas, I had the best shrimp, trying grilled garlic and fried coconut flavours.
Bike Around the Island
One of the most popular things to do in Bocas del Toro is to bike around the island. Biking is not only a great way to get in some physical activity, but it also offers an opportunity to experience a unique side of the island. Biking is one of the best ways to get around the Bocas del Toro province, and Colon Island is the perfect place to explore by bike. Make your way to Bocas Town to rent a bike for a few hours or the whole day.
Search for Wildlife
Lions, tigers, and bears – oh my! Okay, so maybe you won’t find those specific animals in Bocas, but the region is home to an abundance of other wildlife. Throughout Bocas del Toro, you can find a variety of animals like monkeys, sloths, frogs, and more. Embark on a guided hike through the Panamanian jungles to spot some of these beautiful creatures, or pay a visit to one of the province’s gorgeous beaches to spot marine life like fish and dolphins. Keep your eyes peeled, and you will be sure to spot some wildlife during your time in Bocas del Toro.
Visit Bird Island
As the name suggests, Bird Island is a small Caribbean island home to thousands of tropical birds. The island is easily accessible via boat ride from Bocas Town, and this is one thing to do in Bocas that is exceptionally unique to the area. The island itself is rugged, with sheer cliffs and lush vegetation. There are several native Panamanian bird species you can only find on Bird Island, and countless more migratory species travel to the island every year. Many companies will combine tours of Bird Island with a visit to Starfish Beach, as they are accessible from the same side of Colon Island.
If you haven’t already guessed, some of the best things to do in Bocas del Toro revolve around water and water sports. The Caribbean waters in this province are known for being exceptionally calm and beautiful, and kayaking is one of the best ways to experience this for yourself. Bocas Town is a great home base to rent a kayak and explore the coast for a few hours or half a day or stay on the other islands and certain hotels like Casa Acuario include them as part of your stay to enhance your visit.
Take a Yoga Class in the Jungle
Yes, you read that right! One of my favourite activities I did during my time in Bocas del Toro was participating in a yoga class located in the jungle. I had the opportunity to do so during my stay at La Selva, an amazing jungle escape consisting of charming bungalows tucked among the trees. It’s one thing to see or hike through the jungle, but taking a yoga class allowed me to fully immerse myself and take in the beautiful nature surrounding me. For something to do in Bocas’s jungles other than hiking, try a jungle yoga class.
Go a Horseback Riding Tour
Embarking on a horseback ride in Bocas del Toro is often overlooked, but seeing the province from the back of a horse offers a whole new perspective on the region and a fun and enjoyable experience. Book a half or full-day tour on horseback.
Relax in a Hammock
For the ultimate relaxation, lay back in one of the many hammock spots throughout Bocas del Toro. Lounging in a hammock is one of those quintessential island activities that everyone can agree is one of the best things to do in Bocas. Bocas Town is home to several hammock shops and rental spots where you can unwind with the sound of ocean waves. There are also plenty of accommodations that have hammocks available to guests. Watching the stars at night while lounging in a hammock was one of the most relaxing things I did on my trip to Bocas.
For a laidback beach destination with plenty of adventure activities, make sure to include Bocas del Toro on your Panama itinerary. There are so many sights and experiences throughout this province that it can feel overwhelming to decide what to do. This list of 20 Fun Things to Do in Bocas del Toro will give you ideas that range from thrill-seeking adventures to relaxing activities. So start planning your Bocas del Toro getaway today.