The archipelago of Bocas de Toro has a collection of great little beaches scattered around the island and knowing which beaches are the best for swimming, snorkelling, surfing and just plain sunbathing will make all the difference to your topical island holiday.
While Bocas Town on Isla Colon, the main island and home to airport, may be a crazy little town of restaurants, bars and eclectic shops, the beaches on this island are a little further afield and will require the use of a rented bicycle, moped or taxis. Two of our top five beaches can be found on Isla Colon, one of them to the North of the island and the other to the West. Bastimentos is home to two more of the best beaches with the last located in the national reserve and protected marine park of the Zapatilla Keys.
Boca Del Drago – North on Isla Colon
Taking a trip to the North end of the island which is around twenty miles from town can be done either with a taxi or by bus. Taxi´s are known to charge around $30 for a one way trip, while the bus which leaves the town square every two hours and will take just short of an hour to get to the north end is a mere $5 return trip. Once you get to Drago beach, you´ll see a couple of restaurants and a curio vendor with some fantastic shells, Kuna tapestries and jewellery for sale. Walking past, you´ll need to walk around ten minutes up the beach which, although rather narrow, a gorgeous stretch of sand and you´ll find yourself at Starfish Beach. The water is calm and clear, has a great shelf which is great for the kids to paddle in and there are a large number of big starfish in the shallows which makes it a great place to snorkel and suntan.
Playa Bluff – West on Isla Colon
Don´t miss Playa Bluff is you want to have a wide beach almost to yourself. Trips to Playa Bluff require strong legs or a convincing tone as it will take you around forty five minutes to cycle there or you could convince a taxi driver to take you, but this will cost and they are less inclined to want to make the trip as the roads are not great and at some points non-existent, driving on the sand beach at some points. Although not easy to get to, this is a spectacular beach with waves both enjoyed by surfers as well as body boarders. Not ideal for young kids, there are some places along the beach with natural paddle pools that could be great fun for the little ones.
Wizard Beach – Over the Hill from Bastimentos Town
Wizard beach is located over the hill from Bastimentos Town on the island of Bastimentos and is a short hike up the hill and down again. The beach is gorgeous with the open sea in front of you, you can get both calm and not so calm days, but with clean and clear water, this is a great location for a day outing and is suitable to families with slightly older children who can handle a half hour hike over the hill.
Red Frog Beach – Bastimentos Island
Red poison dart frogs can be found in the foliage leading to the beaches and this is how the beach initially got its name. To reach the beach the taxis will drop you off on the other side of the island and you´ll make your way along an easy path to the beach. Red Frog Beach often charges for you to get onto the beach at around $2 per person, but with a long stretch of great sandy beaches and beautiful foliage, you can find a secluded spot just about anywhere and have your own personal beach for the day. The water is similar to Wizard with surf break and both rough and calm days, but the picture perfect beach is well worth a visit anytime of the year.
Zapatilla Keys Beach – Zapatilla Marine Park
If you want to get snorkelling, then this is the beach for you. The protected marine park means that you will see a collection of sea creatures here that are not seen anywhere else in the archipelago. This is also the longest stretch of beach on the islands and is a great location for nesting sea turtles. If you want a great location for kids to snorkel and swim, then this is the jewel in the crown.
Things to Remember when Taking a Beach Trip
It is important to note that many of the beaches around the Bocas del Toro region do not have a great number of amenities on offer, so you will want to make sure that you have adequate water and a packed lunch if you want to do a day outing. While Red Frog Beach and Drago Beach have restaurants within close vicinity to the beaches themselves, the others do not. You should be able to find a shady spot on all of the beaches that you visit, so umbrellas are a luxury and not always a necessity, but remember to take along sun block, flip flops and something to lie on as well as your snorkels and masks.