Bocas del Toro, Panama – a a fascinating town of dirt roads (and lots of potholes due to the traffic and the rains), packed with cheap hostals and mid-range hotels, restaurants of all sorts, and bars on every block.

Located on southern tip of Isla Colon, on the northwestern corner of Panama, bordering Costa Rica, Bocas town is a fascinating town of dirt roads (and lots of potholes due to the traffic and the rains), packed with cheap hostals and mid-range hotels, restaurants of all sorts, and bars on every block.


I opted to stay well outside of Bocas town because I wanted time to chill and regroup and quite honestly, the pictures of the Punta Caracol Aqua Lodge ( were just charming: I mean, we’re talking about over-water bungalows y’all!  The staff here are lovely and do their best to help with anything that you need. I think there are two bungalow types and one large family accommodation (out of a total of like 9 huts) so it really is a peaceful and relaxing place to stay for a couple of nights.

As you know, I only include things on my blog that I endorse and recommend so nothing has changed on that front.  But the Punta Caracol Aqua Lodge does have its challenges so as long as you know, and are therefore prepared, you can enjoy this charming place. The lodge is so remote that getting to town for dinner is a challenge and can be rather pricey (and the free transport stops around 15.00 but even so, their dock is not near the center so a $2 taxi needs to be arranged in advance to get you to a restaurant and back = complicated, even for this Panner Planner).  Dinner is not typically included in your rates so you’ll choose from a menu daily (it doesn’t change and this is added to your bill.  It’s not Michelin starred, but it’ll do.  And for this vegetarian, everyone went out of their way to make something for the three nights I was here.)  But the real kicker is that there is no AC anywhere on the property.  It’s in the middle of nowhere on the Caribbean and the lodges have some windows, and some openings without windows (the bathrooms and the bedroom, to be precise).  I do wish they had fans in the bedrooms: the main bedroom is on the top floor of the bungalows and heat does rise and since the ceiling fan does nothing more than offer a bit of white noise during the night, it is hot.  During the day, it doesn’t matter because you’ll just jump in the ocean but at night, even sleeping alone on this trip, it was hot.  Oh, and there’s no wifi in the rooms, much less a TV or radio,  and no electricity so bring a book, don’t plan on shaving or blowdrying your hair, and literally be prepared to disconnect.


If you choose to stay in Bocas town, there are tons of options covering every possible price range.  I didn’t venture in to the city from the Punta Caracol Aqua Lodge but in my research, I was able to find a large handful of vegetarian restaurants.


There are numerous tours to neighboring islands so it’s really about what you want to see.  A friend recommended a tour to Playa Estrella (Starfish Island) but with only one day to get away, and given the reason for the entire trip is that I want to see sloths, I opted to do a tour to Playa Cayo Zapatilla (Slipper Beach), Cayo Coral (coral beach for snorkeling), and Sloth Island that offered the outside chance of seeing sloths. Sadly, no sloths were seen but to my great delight, and that of everyone else on the tour, as we were headed to Cayo Coral to do some snorkeling, low and behold, a small pod of dolphins were frolicking in the ocean and it was gorgeous.  The surprise dolphin sighting, alone, was worth the proverbial price of admission.

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