On the Caribbean coast near the Costa Rican border is perhaps Panama's most scenic and typically tropical
archipelago, centred around the town of Bocas del Toro. It's an area on the up, unravaged by large-scale
tourism but certainly accessible, and stunningly beautiful. That said, this is the jungle
proper, and if you don't like things that crawl and jump and fly, this may not be the place for you.
I spent two nights at the Red Frog Resort, a short boat trip away from the town of Bocas del Toro, after
an internal flight from Panama City. The resort was relatively new, consisting partly of "jungle
huts" and also of timeshare villas, all quite spread out in the Panamanian jungle. Faulty internet
and phone in my jungle hut meant an upgrade to a three bedroom villa!
Bocas del Toro town juts out over the Caribbean on stilts, and is like a modern-day Pirates of the Caribbean
The town square with the town hall at one end, full of traders, hawkers and people playing music. The
square itself is called Parque Simón Bolivár.
One of the many picturesque if slightly ramshackle hostels that stud the central area of Bocas town.
Here, the Panamaian flag flies above Coconut Hostel. I also passed through Selina hostel, having met
the owner on my boat back from Red Frog Resort.
One of the piratey streets in central Bocas, this one has the very un-piratey name of Calle 1a.
A small fruit seller's shop in central Bocas, with battered bananas at various stages of ripening.
Bocas is the sort of place where people have old boats and decaying cars in their garden, this was one
of the more interesting such houses.
Cute yellow houses on stilts at the shoreline of Bocas town.
Our boat transfer went past some quite pretty beaches on the way to Red Frog Resort.
Red Frog Beach is the typical Caribbean idyll, as seen here from the Punta Lava café.
Another of Red Frog Resort's several beaches.
The jungle huts were arranged around a small shared pool, at which I appeared to be the only guest.
My own jungle hut, which while perfectly comfortable, had no working phone or internet. The broken
phone was a problem, as the resort is quite spread out and the expectation is that you call for a golf
cart to take you to the beach, or reception. I was otherwise stranded, or walking twenty minutes,
not ideal at a supposed resort hotel.
A view of the sparkling Caribbean Sea from the jungle huts pool.
Loungers on Red Frog Beach down at the Punta Lava café. There was another establishment along the beach,
but Punta Lava was good enough for me, so I stuck with that.
Over to the villas now, most of which had their own pool and views north over the Caribbean. It doesn't
get much better than this.
After a complaint to reception (having marched down there), I was upgraded from a jungle hut to a three
bedroom villa, not bad at all. This is the master bedroom, which had its own lounge, in addition
to the main lounge downstairs.
Although it rained much of the day, it didn't stop me using my own private pool!
Leafcutter ants scurry about their business. Bocas del Toro was easily the most jungley place I'd been,
sitting in my pool I could watch thousands of ants rapidly marching past.
It was a menagerie of creepy crawlies, giant grasshoppers would sit around on my villa terraces, ants
all over the place and giant moths and bats would flutter around at dusk. This beast was a good five
Another view of the Caribbean Sea from Red Frog Beach.
Old canoes garnish the mangrove forest by the marina pier.
My transport glides across the bay to Isla Bastimentos, to ferry me back to Isla Colón and Bocas town.
Bocas airport is not a large affair, but it is international with flights going at least as far as San
José in Costa Rica. Which was exactly the route I took, after walking to the airport from Selina
hostel where the boat had dropped me off.