In travel magazines, you always see the same ad pictures. Crystal clear water gently stroking the white-sand beach bordered by palm trees. Deep cyan colours meet intense whites and greens. Amidst this paradisal scenery happily sits a woman drinking from a coconut, enjoying the sun. HARD CUT – company name appears. Guess what – I have been there. Not in the ad spot, in that kind of paradise. Just without the woman. You can’t have everything, right?
Because I made good progress and worked overtime during the week, I was able to take Friday off. So Thursday night at 11pm I took the bus with a friend towards David. Due to our trip to Volcán Barú, we were already used to that route. From there we were able to head straight up north in the direction of Changuinola. After roughly 13 hours we arrived and took the boat to Isla Colón.
Quickly we found a hostel owned by hippies – Coconut Hostel. As they only wanted $10 a night and were very helpful, we checked in. We socialized all around and also made friends with a lady from a nearby takeaway. She prepared good dishes for little money and gave us a taste of her amazing homemade ginger beer. Should you ever pass by the yellow booth in front of the hostel, make sure to check it out!
Having had enough food, we rented a bike for $5, took our bags, and went to the nearest beach. Feeling the refreshing wind, while riding a bike on an empty road on your way to a tropical beach was one of the best experiences of the trip. Despite having quite some algae, we set at the closest beach about three kilometers from the hostel. After trudging through the first two meters of algae, the waters were as clear as ever and the sea calm. The first day ended refreshingly and we spent the evening at a small bar, the Playa Bluff Lounge near the beach, where a buddha was looking at the surge.
On Saturday the other part of the group arrived. Equipped with a surfboard and having rented bikes again, we spent the day at Playa Bluff beach, swam with the meter-high waves, and enjoyed the sun. I have never seen a beach like this before, especially that empty. Walking around a lot, we only managed to make out two other groups – far away. We stayed until the evening when we had to return the bikes.
On Sunday, the day of our departure, we took the chance and booked a boat tour offered by the hostel. For $25 per person, we got the chance to explore the bays between the countless mangrove islands. The final part of the trip lead us to Cayos Zapatillas, two small islands east of Isla Bastimentos. We were greeted with endless beaches, dense jungle, and clear waters.
After spending a few hours on the island, we headed back on the boat. In the middle of the sea, we did a short break to do snorkeling in the transparent waters. Surrounded by countless fishes I was able to see everything through the transparent waters!
Bocas del Toro is an absolute must for everyone who visits Panama. It is one of the most amazing places I have seen so far and sure is worth the bus trip from Panama City – even though you can also fly if you have the money. No matter how you get there – enjoy!