Four days of adventure in Bocas Del Toro, Panama

Bocas Del Toro: what an adventure.  We snorkeled, hiked through rain forests, wandered deserted beaches, saw dolphins, and the tiniest of colorful, poisonous frogs.  We hired a man to take us through mangroves to a bat cave with pools of water we could swim in, and then there was the zip-line, the organic cacao farm and the friends we made along the way, who met us out for Panama and Balboa beers each night.  Bocas Town is small, but we quickly adapted to the slow lifestyle and with our new friends, we felt right at home.

In order to island hop, you must order water taxis.

There's really no place to hang your clothes on Playa Zapatilla, so we opted to use the rainforest trees.

Although this one isn't wild, there were tropical birds everywhere, even in our hotel bar.  One morning a wild parrot walked into the bar and decided not to leave, thus prompting many jokes and inquiries as to what his drink of choice should be.

Where to go in Bocas Town?  I think there are plenty of choices.

Red Frogs on Red Frog Beach.  Green ones like the one above, found in the forests of Almirante.  And so many others, it's just a matter of keeping your eye out for them.

Sunset on Starfish Beach (unfortunately, due to unsustainable tourism, there are only about 5 starfish on what was once a beach filled with so many starfish, "you could barely take a step without bumping into one."

Image: Property of Leilani Gushiken

We visited the Nagabe Tribe, who live in the Rio Oeste Arriba on Alimarante.   One of the best farm tours, I've been on in South America, they grow cacao in the rainforest.  The tour took us through the jungle, where we encountered frogs, sloths, chickens, and a really angry fire ant (I got bitten on my foot!), then we learned how chocolate is made (by hand: mortar and pestle style!) and finally had a traditional meal of taro root, leaves and boiled chicken.  What a cool day!  And we left with a greater appreciation of chocolate and the farmers who gather our cacao.

Image Property of Leilani Gushiken

Curious Nagabe girls, who check us out as we wander past their home.

Bocas Town used to be the headquarters for the United Fruit Company (Chiquita Bananas, anyone?).  Although the neighboring islands still have banana plantations, the only reminder of their UFC past, are piles of banana found on stalks in many of the local markets and fruit stands.