For everyone who feels a bit overwhelmed by the party scene in Bocas town, this is the place to go. In Bastimentos you are going to find the relaxing atmosphere the loud taxis and bars on the main island can't offer.
You can take a taxi boat for $5 (one way) from the Bocas Town of Isla Colon. There is a specific ferry dock from where the boats go to Bastimentos. It is about 200-300 m further south from the main ferry terminals and has an obvious sign. Otherwise, from the main terminals (for Almirante), there also enough boat man waiting to take you for $5 per person.
The only village on the island is called Old Bank, consisting of a walking path lined with rustic buildings. There are no cars or roads on this island, so walking and water taxis are the ways of transportation.
There are several beautiful beaches in walking distance from town. One is "Wizard Beach" (1.2 km or 20 min from town).
The other one is "Red Frog Beach" (~1 hr walking from Old Bank town). The path is extremely difficult to negotiate, especially during rain. But you might get around paying the $10 park entrance.
- 1 Wizard Beach (Playa Primera). The beach is popular with surfers. Sometimes there are very good waves here. There is a strong (reportedly deadly) undertow on this beach. Only experienced swimmers should enter the water here.
The beach is long and fairly remote, but the number of visitors makes is far less remote than it has been a couple of years ago. There are no services on or near this beach. There is no lifeguard and medical services are far away.
- 2 Red Frog Beach (A truck runs back and forth from the beach near the hostel to the marina on the other side of the island. The truck is free. Water taxis are usually waiting to take you to Bastimentos for $4 per person. Walking from Wizzard beach is also possible.). There are two bars and a hostel at the far end of this beach. Drinks are more expensive than in town but still cheaper than US or European prices. The hostal serves food right on the beach and is open until 17:00.
There have been regular reports of robberies with machetes on the path between the town of Old Bank and Wizard Beach since 2006. Leave your valuable in your ho(s)tel, ask local sources and always use common sense. Also, you might be better off taking the path across the Cerro Bastimentos hill. This side of town feels far less threatening than the southeastern one.
- There is a PADI dive centre on Bastimentos called The Dutch Pirate (PADI Store no S 21308) which has cheap prices for Open Water/Advanced certifications, Discover Scuba Diving experience and fun dives.
- Walk up to the coffee shop Up in the Hill and have a great coffee, tea, etc. while reading/changing a book and enjoying the calm environment and the nice views. Get some brownies and truffles. There is a book store here too.
- Red Frog beach is popular for its jungle with the famous red frogs aka demonic poison frog aka demonic poison-arrow frog. However, these nice little photo bomb frogs can be found all around the Up in the Hill café, and you might save the $10 charged for the park and beach at Red Frog Beach. Just follow the zirping.
- Check-out the numerous hanging woven nest of the Crested Oropendola (black feathers, yellow tail) right before the trail to Wizard Beach leaves the jungle.
- Polo beach is a beach named after its inhabitant - an elderly man who's lived in a shack off the beach for 50 years. You can hike or get a boat there from Red Frog Beach. If you take a tour he will also cook for you. Make sure you try one of his avocados!
- Take a night tour to see bioluminesence. Tours run when the moon is at its darkest.
- Nvidia cave - see bats and wade into the depths of this cave.
The supermarket right next at the docks is the most expensive one. There are two more walking the path along the water down the village.
There are several restaurants in Old Bank. Roots and Alvin are safe bets for good food at a very reasonable price.
Not so much for going out here. It is more to calm down from Bocas del Toro experiences. But if you are lucky and have an accommodation on the water, where hanging out is a treat.
Also, Old Bank has a different vibe than gringofied Bocas town - more real but not always in a nice way. Poverty is much more apparent, and after dark the settlement can feel a bit intimidating at times.
- Beverly's Hill (Walk left some 100 meters from the pier in Old Bank. You'll see signs leading the way; it's up a small hill on your right.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 11:00. Very nice place run by a friendly British/Colombian family. Excellent hospitality, as well as good local knowledge. Highly recommended. There are 7 rooms, in wooden cabins in a lush garden. Breakfast and dinner available, but let them know beforehand so they can prepare. From $20 for a double room..
For a totally unique experience, try La Loma Jungle Lodge and Chocolate Farm. It's located in a quiet bay midway down the island and has 4 'handmade' cabins perched on the hillside. The food is incredible with many products grown in the organic gardens. Unsurprisingly, chocolate features prominently.
A bunch of local kids will try to sell you weed along the towns main walkway. Try to be nice.
Drinking publicly is apparently not allowed and if the paroling officer see you with alcohol, you will have to drop it in the bin.
- Bocas town – Many boats take of during the day, just ask your accommodation where to wait best.
- Isla Solarte
- Isla Cristóbal