From Panama Jack — April 26, 2017 at 5:00 am

Bocas del Toro Is One Of The Caribbean’s Best-Kept Secrets

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©istockphoto/DmitriyBurlakov

When traveling through Panama City, take a detour and leave the opulent luxury of the vibrant city behind.

A one-hour flight to Isla Colon, the busy hub and capital of the nine-island Bocas del Toro island chain, carries you into a serene and tranquil environment like no other.

Located in the calm, crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea Bocas del Toro, which means “Mouth of the Bull” in Spanish, is a province in Panama made up of a region of bio-diverse rainforest on the mainland and nine main islands. Bocas del Toro borders the Caribbean Sea to the north and Costa Rica to the west. Rio Sixaloa forms a portion of the border with Costa Rica. The Panama province of Chiriqui lies to the south and Ngobe-Bugle Comarca to the east. In 1502, seeking passage to the Pacific Ocean, Christopher Columbus and his crew visited the island chain.

When you make the journey to the Bocas del Toro archipelago you step into a new attitude and atmosphere, a primitively seductive biological fantasy world of ancient customs, amazing lush vegetation, and welcoming multi-cultural diversity.

Visitors will discover flora and fauna unique to this tropical marine area of the world, exceptional eco-adventure opportunities including snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, swimming, hiking, fabulous food, happy people, and magical moments that will create an unforgettable memory.

After arrival on Colon Island, take the time to explore the charming hamlet of Bocas Town a colorful collection of Caribbean-style clapboard houses built by United Fruit Company in the early 20th century. Visit the local outdoor market to taste all the tempting local delicacies, wander the unique shops and stop for a bite of lunch in a quaint sidewalk café serving up the fresh catch of the day and local organic produce. Be sure to see Isla Colón’s world-famous Starfish Beach, named for the countless sea stars scattered across its ocean floor.

Bocas del Toro accommodations are ideal for a relaxing Caribbean getaway. On-grid accommodations are available on Isla Colon, Isla Bastimentos, and Carenero Island including upscale hotels, hostels, bed and breakfast inns, camping lodges and private home rentals. Accommodations on the other isles are few, and those available are off-grid, providing an authentic eco-friendly experience.

Bocas Town acts as a convenient base for exploring the scenic wonders of the archipelago. At the busy marina, one can easily catch a taxi marinos (water taxi) to whisk you away to remote and serene swimming and snorkeling beaches, primitive and untouched by tourism.

Isla Bastimentos

If you are searching for the ultimate sugary sand beach destination with a relaxed Reggae vibe, look no further than Isla Bastimentos. Tucked away in the archipelago and province of Bocas del Toro, the little isle of Isla Bastimentos in only about 20-miles square and accessible only by watercraft. Composed almost entirely of dense jungle, the Isle has no cars, roads, nor an airstrip. Wildlife on the Isle includes monkeys, turtles, sloths, and frogs.

Isla Bastimentos captivates adventure travelers with spectacular beauty and a harmonious blend of cultures. Visitors discover indigenous villages, a marine national park, a handful of eco-lodges, individual home sites and a small town with a laid-back colorful Caribbean lifestyle.

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