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Where to stay in Bocas del Toro? 5 darling places

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Where to stay in Bocas del Toro? 5  darling places

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You know us. We like nice hotels :-). So the first question on our minds after deciding to go:

What are the best places to stay in Bocas del Toro?

Good question too.

Because search for “best hotels in Bocas del Toro” or “Bocas del Toro luxury hotels” – and you’ll be hard-pressed to find much. Apart from reviews on TripAdvisor or hotel booking sites, there’s little in the way of articles or reviews in travel magazines or newspapers.

That’s because Bocas is (mostly) still off-the-grid.

Best hotels in Bocas del Toro

Bocas town is the gateway to small island resorts in the Bocas del Toro archipelago
Bocas town is the gateway to small island resorts in the Bocas del Toro archipelago

There are a couple of traditional hotel-style places to stay in Bocas del Toro.

But we wanted something boutiquey and secluded, so we had to dig a bit. You’ll understand why if you know a little about Bocas.

Why visit Bocas del Toro?

Of course, you know about the Panama Canal – traversing the canal is one of the most famous things to do in Panama.

Bocas del Toro, an archipelago of small islands off the north coast of Panama on the Caribbean side, is much less well-known.

On Isla Colon (the main island in Bocas del Toro), bicycling is a popular way to get around
On Isla Colon (the main island), bicycling is a popular way to get around

Most accommodations in Bocas del Toro are small eco-resorts or guesthouses. No air conditioning. Rainwater for drinking. Solar power (candle-light dining!).

Now, Bocas has graduated from the backpacker phase of tourism development to boutique inns and B&B’s. But the five-star hotels simply haven’t found their way there yet (though Viceroy plans to open a luxury Viceroy Bocas del Toro resort with 42 overwater villas in 2022).

So finding the best places to stay in Bocas del Toro was a bit of a challenge for us.

Still, we wanted to visit Bocas!

Spot dolphins! Just one of the things to do in Bocas del Toro
Spot dolphins! Just one of the things to do in Bocas del Toro

We’d read come-hither stories of Bocas del Toro.

How the islands were a bit of an obsession for British novelist Graham Greene, who finally reached them on his third attempt.

How they’re a salt-water paradise if escapism and going barefoot trumps marble bathrooms and butlers…

best places to stay in Bocas del Toro
White sand beaches? Warm turquoise waters? This is why we wanted to visit Bocas del Toro!

We were hooked – and had to visit Bocas del Toro!

3 best Bocas del Toro hotels we chose

Let’s start with the Bocas del Toro hotels we stayed at. Then we’ll tell you about two more places to stay in Bocas that also look excellent.

Best Hotels in Bocas del Toro (Where we stayed)

We did our research and booked the following best places to stay in Bocas del Toro.

While on Bocas, we peeked into other inns, and we’re satisfied that these are indeed three of the best hotels in Bocas del Toro. (They’re really not “hotels” though, more like lodges or inns.)

Each of these Bocas del Toro accommodation options is completely different, offering different vacation experiences.

2 more best places to stay in Bocas del Toro

La Loma Jungle Lodge:

La Loma Jungle Lodge is one of the top places to stay in Bocas del Toro
We can’t wait for La Loma to reopen after its renovation!

Tucked away in the tropical rainforest of Isla Bastimentos, La Loma Jungle Lodge is an award-winning eco-lodge with hand-crafted bungalows.

Wonderfully secluded, the only way to get there is by boat.

Tours of the onsite cacao farm, jungle hikes, and trips to nearby Red Frog Beach are all included in your stay.

Currently being renovated, the lodge is expected to reopen in late 2020, with several new indoor/outdoor bungalows and a new main lodge-and-restaurant.

La Loma | Check rates and availability

Tranquilo Bay Eco-Adventure Lodge:

Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts love Tranquilo Bay Eco-Adventure Lodge
Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts love Tranquilo Bay Eco-Adventure Lodge

Also on Isla Bastimentos, this all-inclusive jungle lodge has nine comfortable air-conditioned cabanas, with covered porches, hammocks and Adirondack chairs.

A 63-foot observation tower in the forest canopy offers terrific views – and is ideal for bird-watching and spotting wildlife.

There’s no beach, but you can swim from the Tranquilo Bay’s little pier.

Tranquilo Bay | Check rates and availability

Tip!

A nice combination for a seven-night holiday would be to split your stay between two of the inns or hotels in Bocas del Toro covered here in this post.

Weather in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Bocas del Toro

The islands are close to the equator, so the weather in Bocas del Toro is hot year-round. Expect rain, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. It rains the most in May, July and August.

For good weather, the best time to visit Bocas del Toro are the months of January to March. September to November is also pleasant.

We visited in late January, and found it hot, humid and tropical. Great weather for an escape from the dreary North American winter!

Where is Bocas del Toro?

On the Caribbean side off Panama’s coast, the Bocas islands are tucked up close to the Costa Rica border.

How to get to Bocas del Toro

Part of the appeal of the islands is that they’re remote and not trampled with tourists. This, of course, means they’re a bit of a challenge to get to.

Flying to Bocas del Toro from Panama City:

The quickest, easiest and most comfortable way is to fly from Panama City to Bocas del Toro.

Flights are on Air Panama, a regional Panama airline. It’s a one-hour flight from Panama City to Isla Colon, the main island in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. On Isla Colon, the Bocas del Toro airport consists mainly of an airstrip and shack (which serves as an “airport” arrivals and departure building); the airport is located just outside funky Bocas town.

This is how we traveled to Bocas del Toro.

Shuttle or bus to Bocas del Toro:

When planning how to get to Bocas del Toro, it’s also possible to take an air-conditioned shuttle or public bus from Costa Rica, or a night bus from Panama City – about 11 to 12 hours total travel time for both options.

Transfer from Bocas airport to your resort:

The better Bocas del Toro hotels will pick you up from the airport and transfer you to your hotel, either by boat (or land transfer, if you’re staying on Isla Colon).

Where to stay in Panama City?

You’ll likely stay in Panama City before or after visiting the Bocas islands. We loved the 5 star Global Hotel Panama. It’s close to Casco Viejo, Panama City’s old quarter, and it’s very easy on the wallet too!

Do you love gorgeous hotels? Then read our post on 27+ epic resorts with private pool suites!

Ready to book your trip?

See the following helpful services:

Our Travel Resources Guide | Get airline booking tips. Discover great travel, tour and car rental companies. And read useful trip planning info!

Booking.com | Score a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one.

Vrbo | Get your own apartment or villa, instead of a hotel.

GetYourGuide | Check out local tours and book tickets to attractions.

Our Travel Shop | Find the best travel gear.

Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we’ll earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!

See our magazine story

Interested in our magazine story on the best places to stay in Bocas del Toro? Read “Where to Stay in Bocas del Toro,” published in Islands.com magazine.


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Best hotels in Bocas del Toro

Photo credits: 15 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 2, 3, 5 Island Plantation | 4 Casa Cayuco | Remaining images courtesy the respective Bocas del Toro resorts


About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the owners and founders of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, luxury hotel reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

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Irene Levine

Wednesday 13th of September 2017

Each of these properties looks like it has a special charm!

Janice and George

Wednesday 13th of September 2017

Yes, each different, depending on the experience you want :-).

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