An island hideaway – Bocas del Toro Panama

My time in Bocas del Toro was an absolute dream. As in, I genuinely felt like I was in a dream the whole time. Four days on a remote island in the Caribbean Sea, bliss!



It’s a bit of a struggle to remember exactly what I did each day as it all sort of morphed into one.

Isla Bastimentos is one of 10 islands in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro. There are also an additional 50 cays and 200 tiny islets.

The journey there was a bit of an ordeal (when isn’t it?).

The taxi, three buses and boat to Bocas was all very colourful experiences. The bus to Almirante stopped several times, mainly to drop off and pick up school kids. They’re very cute & stare at me curiously. The bus routes were very scenic, windy roads through beautiful jungle. It’s been raining so everything is green & lush.


Eventually I arrive at the port. A group of people rushed the door to try and get me to go with them and take their water taxi. I just ignored them and walked to the docks.

The boat trip over was pretty cool, cruising past colourful houses on stills on the water’s edge. Isla Colon is the main island in the archipelago, Bocas Town being the central area. I really like it! It is really beautiful and has a very relaxed vibe. Lots of shops and places to eat. I had to wait for my boat for Bastimenos to arrive, so walked around until it was time.

It poured rain the whole trip to Isla Bastimentos. I figured I was going to spend most of my time in Bocas either sweaty or wet from the rain, so it didn’t bother me. The Palmer dock is really pretty. It’s all jungle with lovely sand paths. It was a gorgeous 10 minute walk to Palmer Tent Lodge, my home for the next four days.

There are lots of things to do around the archipelago. Surfing, snorkelling, diving, fishing, etc. Most of which weren’t overly accessible from where I was staying. Which was totally fine because what I was looking for was: to chill, to practice yoga, to workout on the beach, to read. Isla Bastimentos was perfect for me for this!

My accomodation was at Palmer Tent Lodge. It’s an ecolodge – rain water, solar power (between 8am & 6pm) and no wifi – set in the jungle on the beach. The lodge consists of several tents and two dorm style cabins. There’s a restaurant/bar/decking area, plenty of hammocks & beach lounges and a yoga temple.

This place is made of all of the things that I love: I’m in the jungle, but on the beach. The weather is warm, but there is rain, thunderstorms and lightening. Yoga in the morning and night, chilled out crowd. Best!

As there isn’t a lot else on Red Frog Beach (a restaurant, a taco stand) I, along with most of the other travellers, spend our time at and around the lodge.

The food, although a bit pricey, was incredible! I was in healthy vegetarian heaven! Dining on the beach three times a day made the experience even better!

I was fortunate to meet some really cool people, both travellers & staff. I shared a room with Chelsea from Canada & Karli from Caifornia. They are both really impressive young women who are doing so much good in the world. Karli is is in Panama as part of the ‘Floating Doctors’, a group providing medical care to people on the remote islands of the archipelago. She’s also volunteered in Eastern Europe and Cambodia. Chelsea is a teacher & taught in Abu Dahbi for four years. While there, she volunteered helping street dogs.


We hung out a bit together, eating, happy hour & had a jungle adventure trying to find a particular beach for snorkelling. The directions we were given were not right. Cue some bush bashing, wrong turns & lost thongs in mud, we did find a beautiful and secluded area for snorkelling.

Practising yoga at Palmer was a pretty special experience. I did some classes & also my own practice. The yoga temple is on the fringe of the beach and jungle. The sounds of the animals, birds, waves and rain were such beautiful compliments to the experience.

The beach didn’t stretch out for too long, the jungle paths not recommended due to safety. In one area, men in masks wielding machetes jump out and rob people. Nope!

So opportunities to go running weren’t ideal. Instead, I did some HiiT (high intensity interval training) workouts. Mistake number one was doing the first in our cabin. It was crazy hot and humid and made it a lot tougher! The rest I did on the beach. I found a small shelter which came in handy during the frequent downpours. I loved it! Looking out to the sea while training, best!

I couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty having four days on the island. Being the start of my trip I felt like I should be out and about doing things. I got over this pretty quickly, noting that I can do what I want! My trip, my style.

Not ready to leave the Caribbean life just yet, I’m off to Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, back in Costa Rica.

More beach action (or relaxation) awaits!

Cheers, Mel 🙂




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