Rose Goes South • Bocas Del Toros… Panama’s Playground 

Post-San Blas Adventures, our group were in need of a recoup. After spending a single night in Panama City which turned into Ladies Night at a Rooftop Bar, it was necessary catch a boat to Bocas Islands where we would retreat, shower properly, do some yoga and wine and dine. Turns out this was another one of those great decisions, so much so, we spent an extra night there than we had planned, just to squeeze in some snorkeling and dolphin watching!

Unfortunately, our retreat to Bocas started out on the wrong foot, armed with hangover and enduring a ropey journey on an overnight bus, taxi, then boat, we arrived in an overcast location and spent the day on the hostel’s terrace catching up with everything wi-fi related, toying with the idea of having a beer, and eventually checking in at 3pm. As active travellers, the past 24 hours had been boring and so far, I had nothing at all to write about Bocas Del Toros… I was worried for Tiplr’s sake! We knew we had to turn things around, mainly so I’d have a blog post to write about this place and seeing as it was a Saturday night, partying seemed a great place to start. From Bocas Town there’s really only one way to enjoy your evening in a big way, and it’s in a ‘club’ called Aqua Lounge. Problem is, Aqua Lounge isn’t quite a club, nor a lounge… It’s essentially a huge jetty suspended over the sea with tonnes of wooden apparatus to swing or launch yourself off into pools of sea! Rope-swings and high platforms, perfect for the show-offs in your group, this is the kind of place you don’t wanna take your phone, but do need to take your inner Tarzan. Just be careful because although alcohol and a playground in the sea sound like a good idea, I’m sure this place has seen a few law suits! Fun was had and Bocas was looking up…

The next few days involved exploring Bocas Town which I can only compare to one of the many hippie beach towns scattered along Australia’s east coast and a few of the group actually likened the place to Airlie Beach. The tiny Taco bars and surf shops are a holiday maker’s dream and the with laid-back luxe feel of this rustic yet charming Caribbean location, it didn’t take much to win us over. We were under the Bocas spell and didn’t want to leave… Note: if you’re one of those travelers who easily get stuck for 3 weeks in one place, avoid Bocas! 8.30am yoga followed by breakfast, relaxation, lunch, wandering, jetty conversations over cold beer and dinner was our routine here and we’d soon forgotten the overcast weather. Cards were played and friends were made in Selina’s hostel, where we made our base in an old car transformed into a table! What more could you ask for? We were content in Bocas and I know anyone thinking of visiting will be too. My only premise is that as an island with the US Dollar as currency, you will pay a small fortune in the supermarkets for certain imported goods such as cereal and snack foods. But on the plus side, they make their own delicious gin on the islands, and it’s $2 USD a bottle (no jokes, we’re taking 5 bottles with us to Costs Rica!) so you win some you lose some I guess!

My top tips for Bocas? Dine at Taco Surf (their burritos are second to none), sleep at Selina’s Hostel, go dolphin watching on a boat trip (we saw a pod of 7), sip alcohol because it’s cheaper than soda, and in general, chill yourself out. Just don’t get stuck! There’s too much of Central America to see! Oh and the beaches are pretty cool too but I’m not sure after being spoilt on San Blas if any other beach will ever compare… Looks like I’ll have to head to the Maldives after all.

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