Bocas del Toro is a chain of islands on the Caribbean side of Panama, only 40 miles from the border of Costa Rica, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Christopher Columbus came here on his last trip in 1502. Today, most come for the surf and sun. There's a huge number of expats here (and who can blame them, I didn't want to leave either). I actually remember surfing back home and talking to someone in the water who had set up a surf camp here. Bocas town is bustling, full of hostels, bars, restaurants. We stayed on Carenero, a calmer small island just across the way.
I had been told by many not to come for New Years because it gets too crowded. Jill and Bill (our amazing hosts) kept going on about how many people were around, but to be honest I didn't think it was bad at all! I've spent New Years in places far more crowded. From experience, Floripa or St Barths are much more of a nightmare around this time. The only time it hit me was when the entire island ran out of eggs on New Years day.
Air Panama and Aeroperlas have multiple flights a day straight into Bocas town, or you can choose to go the long way and do what we did... drive! The 8-hour trip got pretty brutal at times, but we drove through the night and made it safe and sound. Panamanian directions make me laugh. It's not like in the States where you get on highway so and so and get off on exit 123 then make a right onto ABC blvd. Here, you take the highway until it becomes a 2 lane road, then you make a right at the gas station that has good coffee, then you're gonna go down the really bumpy road, until you get to the fog, then pass the dam and make a left at the breakfast spot... That kinda thing. Nothing is marked, you just have to know where you're going.
We spent New Years day at Starfish beach, a beautiful stretch of sand with crystal clear lagoon-calm water, followed by sunset drinks, dancing, and laughs at Aqualounge on Carenero. Dinner was at the Cosmic Crab, a cute restaurant composed of tiny private bohios over the water.
|orchid hunting and trekking through the jungle on Carenero...|