I had a love affair with Bocas del Toro.
It was the kind of love that comes suddenly and makes your heart pound in your chest. Then, it’s gone as quickly as it had appeared. It was the kind of love that you think about for years to come, and always makes you ask, what if.
This love caught me by surprise as I stepped onto the town’s sandy street at 6 in the morning on a rainy April day, half delusional from an overnight bus from Panama City and a ferry ride. It was almost as if the town had kept me from falling over, and supported me as I walked through the rain in search of my hostel.
Bocas del Toro didn’t play hard to get, either. It flirted with me by showing me the miscellaneous colored houses spread sporadically throughout the town that made me gawk in awe. Its wonderful ocean scent mixed with the smell of rain made me gasp with happiness, making me fall even harder.
I spent a few days with Bocas del Toro. It showed me my now favorite bar, Iguana Bar, and gave me a giddiness I had never experienced before as I jumped into the pool in the back of the bar, fully clothed, at 3 in the morning.
However, I could tell Bocas del Toro got jealous and tried to ruin the fun when I went in search of other beaches. Honestly, the beaches near the town were not any I truly liked. Firstly, It rained when I went to Red Frog Beach on Isla Bastimentos, but that didn’t ruin the fun. My friends and I basically had the beach to ourselves, and happily enjoyed fish tacos and beer at a local food stand.
Then, my friends and I almost capsized in the water taxi on our way to Wizard Beach. We eventually made it, but it wasn’t easy.
Bocas del Toro took me out for dinner a few times, where I was able to taste some of the local food. I ate pizza at Tropical Birds restaurant, and seafood pasta at La Buguita Café. I know it didn’t mind me going to another bar one night on another island, since it could still see me from afar. I had gone to Aqua Lounge, which was directly across the water from my hostel, and had an incredible time.
I knew Bocas del Toro and I felt something for one another on my last day. A song played hours before I was about to leave the town. This song, whenever played, reminds me of the wonderful time I spent with my lover.
Our hearts are like firestones,
And when they strike,
We feel the love,
Sparks will fly,
They ignite our bones,
But when they strike, we light up the world.
The euphoric melody of Kygo’s “Firestone” floated around the bar, and intertwined with the cheerful chatter of those making their way towards an afternoon boozy buzz. The turquoise water sparkled, and the vibrant colored hammocks swung gently in the breeze; back and forth like a pendulum. The day I had to leave, Selina Hostel seemed like more of a paradise than ever before. Bocas del Toro, you made it very hard that day.
How can I ever forgive you for making me fall so hard?
I tried to focus on the fact that my shirt stuck to me like I was in a Wet T-shirt Contest, or that the humidity made my hair look like it had a perm, to try and make it easier to leave. It didn’t work. I twisted my dry hair around in my finger, feeling the split ends that the heat and salt water had magically created by the hundreds.
I couldn’t leave this place. The beaches on the islands near Bocas del Toro are pristine, the sand is a searing white, and the water simply the perfect shade of blue.
Bocas del Toro, you gave me the most beautiful sunset on my last night in town, as I was coasting in the middle of the water on a water taxi. I saw the sillhouette of a dolphin fin just as the sun was setting, and knew this was the beginning of our goodbye. Bocas del Toro, I will never forget you.
Visiting Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is an island town in Northern Panama. It’s on Isla Colon, which is a part of a chain of small islands. In order to get to any of the other islands, you have to take water taxi’s, which can range from $1 a person and up.
If you visit Bocas del Toro, get ready to party, the nightlife is incredible. I stayed at Selina Hostel. The first two nights I stayed in the no A/C room, but by the third night, I couldn’t take the heat anymore and switched to a room with A/C- it’s definitely worth the extra money (I woke up in a puddle of sweat every morning in the no A/C room). They offer free coffee, fruit and toast for breakfast as well.
There are a ton of restaurants around the island, as well as a variety of activities, such as ATVing. Bastimentos is a quaint town on an island near Bocas del Toro, and is definitely also worth a visit. Although the beaches on Isla Colon aren’t that great (in my opinion), the nearby beaches are very beautiful and easily accessible.
Take a look at my Vlog from Bocas del Toro to get more of a visual experience on what it’s like here!