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7 Best Hotels in Bocas Del Toro (2023): Perfect for an Eco-Adventure!

You know us. We like nice hotels. And if they’re hotels with private pool suites, so much the better!

So the first question on our minds after deciding to go was: 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.

The best hotels in Bocas del Toro include a Bali-style boutique hotel on the beach.
We checked out some of the best accommodations in Bocas del Toro

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

There are a few 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.

Colorful buildings on the water in Bocas del Toro, Panama
Bocas town is the gateway to small island resorts in the Bocas del Toro archipelago

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.

Think: No air conditioning. Rainwater for drinking. Solar panels for power (candle-light dining!).

Now, while there are still plenty of cheap hotels, Bocas has graduated from the backpacker phase of tourism development to boutique inns and B&B’s, some located on private or semi-private islands.

But true luxury hotels with five-star modern amenities simply haven’t found their way there yet.

The exception is Viceroy, which plans to open a luxury Viceroy Bocas del Toro resort with 42 overwater villas in 2024.

And the new Nayara Bocas del Toro, which we’ll get to in a jiff (#5 below).

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 and its natural beauty.

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 with beautiful beaches if escapism and going barefoot trumps marble bathrooms, butlers and 24-hour room service.

Beautiful white-sand beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama
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!

Best Bocas del Toro hotels we chose

Let’s start with the Bocas del Toro hotels we stayed at.

We did our research and booked the following 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.

1) Casa Cayuco

Welcome to Casa Cayuco!

Stay: 

This remote eco-adventure lodge has clean and comfortable cabins and private rooms.

Home-cooked meals are healthy and super delicious.

Guaranteed: You’ll be craving seconds of their fresh-baked chocolate coconut cake and other desserts!

And if you can’t stand the thought of being totally disconnected from the outside world, don’t worry. The free Wi-Fi is good and strong.

Fresh-baked banana muffins for afternoon tea at Casa Cayuco
Mmmm! Fresh-baked banana muffins for afternoon tea

Play: 

Go stand-up paddleboarding, visit a local Panamanian village, snorkel with sea turtles and spot the monkeys that often visit the resort.

Also don’t miss seeing “star fire” bioluminescence at night. You’ll be invited to go out in a boat to experience this.

Appeals to: 

Casa Cayuco appeals to adventure-loving couples, families and small groups seeking the perfect place to destress.

It includes meals in the rates – which is a good thing, since it’s quite far away from civilization.

For Bocas del Toro all-inclusive resorts offering lots of adventurous activities, Casa Cayuco is a great pick.

Location:

Isla Bastimentos (one of the main islands), a 45-minute, high-speed boat ride from Bocas town.

Read our full review of Casa Cayuco

Casa Cayuco: Check rates and dates

2) Punta Caracol Aqua Lodge

Overwater bungalows at Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge
Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge is built over a gorgeous lagoon in Bocas del Toro

Stay: 

Bed down in a cute, two-story wood cabin built over the water.

That’s right!

For an overwater experience, you don’t have to travel all the way to the South Pacific to stay in one of Bora Bora’s overwater bungalows or one of the huts over the water in Fiji.

There are Bocas del Toro overwater bungalows.

And Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge (also spelled Punta Caracol Aqua Lodge) has nine of them.

Five of the nine bungalows are Punta Caracol Suites. (We stayed in one of these.) They have a king-size four-poster bed in an upper loft.

The aqua-colored cabins of Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge are built entirely on stilts over the water.
The resort is completely built over water

Multi-generational families like the 1,000 sq. ft. Master Suite bungalow, with over 600 sq. ft. of additional deck space.

It has a king bed up and four twin beds down.

Play: 

The best part about staying here is that you can snorkel to your heart’s content over a coral reef right from your overwater bungalow.

Also enjoy paddling about the mangroves in a kayak and getting lost in a book while swinging in the hammock on your deck.

A boat excursion to Starfish Beach is also included in the rates.

Appeals to: 

Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge is catnip for water-loving couples and families.

Location:  

Isla Colon, a 20-minute boat ride from Bocas town.        

Read our full review of Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge

Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge: Check rates and dates

3) Island Plantation Resort

Island Plantation Resort, Bocas del Toro, Panama
We loved the Bali vibe (and the golden sand beach!) at Island Plantation

Stay: 

Charming Bali-style digs, a garden pool, romantic restaurant and a beautiful beach all make this one of the most stylish places to stay on Bocas.

Room at Island Plantation Resort, Bocas del Toro
Our room at Island Plantation

Play: 

Practise your sun salutations on Island Plantation’s hillside yoga platform, walk the beach and splash about in the outdoor swimming pool.

And forget about the outside world (one of the best things to do in Bocas del Toro).

Appeals to: 

Couples who love beachy boutique inns will be drawn to the Island Plantation Resort.

Location:  

On Bluff Beach on Isla Colon, a 20- to 30-minute drive from Bocas town.

See our full review of the Island Plantation Resort

Island Plantation Resort: Check rates and dates

More best places to stay in Bocas del Toro

Here are four more places to stay in Bocas that also look excellent.

4) La Loma Jungle Lodge

La Loma reopened in 2021 after being extensively renovated

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.

La Loma Bungalow
La Loma gets great reviews as one of the best lodges in Bocas del Toro

After a large renovation, La Loma reopened in early 2021 with new digs.

You’ll now find several new indoor/outdoor bungalows and a new main lodge plus onsite restaurant.

La Loma: Check rates and dates

5) Nayara Bocas del Toro

Elevated overwater beach at Nayara Bocas del Toro
Very imaginative! This is an elevated man-made “overwater beach”

Nayara Bocas del Toro (also called Bocas Bali) is one of the newest accommodations in Bocas del Toro.

It opened in September, 2021, it didn’t complete its “overwater beach” until the spring of 2022.

Say what? An overwater beach?

Yep. Hotelier Dan Behm (a former tech exec) who built the resort calls it the world’s first “elevated beach.”

Nayara occupies Frangipani Island, a private island.

But the island doesn’t have a white sand beach. Or any natural beach, for that matter.

Solution?

Create a man-made beach on a concrete platform that perches on pylons over the water, then cover it with sand. Sprinkle lounge chairs around – and a beach bar, of course!

Final touch: Add quartz-tiled stairs leading down from the elevated beach platform into the 30-foot-deep sea waters.

Shaped like a butterfly, the beach is about 90 feet long and 20 feet wide. Very cool!

You can also swim in the resort’s 70-foot-long freshwater pool by its clubhouse.

Swimming pool at Nayara Bocas del Toro, Panama
For a change of scene, you can swim in the resort’s pool

As for the accommodations, Nayara Bocas del Toro has 16 Balinese-style overwater villas.

At 1,100 sq. ft. in size, these are true overwater villas in Bocas del Toro.

They come with air conditioning (a blessing for sleeping at night), king-size beds, Wi-Fi, mini-fridge stocked with wine and beer, coffee maker and 24-hour room service.

Inside a Nayara Bocas del Toro villa
Your Nayara villa should be very comfortable

Some overwater villas even have private saltwater pools as well.

Or go for one of the bamboo treehouses, with views over the treetop canopy and Javanese hand-hammered copper bathtubs.

The resort is adults-only and rates are all-inclusive. Unlimited premium liquors and wines are included in the rates too.

What’s excluded: Gratuities, 10% government tax, massages and excursions like scuba diving and ATVing.

Overwater villa at Nayara Bocas del Toro
Private pool or the sea? You can enjoy both from your overwater villa at Nayara Bocas del Toro

If you’re looking for luxury hotels in Bocas del Toro, Nayara Bocas del Toro is as close as you’re going to get. (And from all accounts and reviews, it looks pretty spiffy!)

Nayara Bocas del Toro: Check rates and dates

6) Tranquilo Bay Eco-Adventure Lodge

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

This all-inclusive jungle lodge on Isla Bastimentos has nine comfortable air-conditioned cabanas. They come with covered private balconies furnished with 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 Tranquilo Bay’s little pier.

Kingfisher at Tranquilo Bay
Kingfisher at Tranquilo Bay

With over 230 bird species onsite (550 species when you include daily excursions to nearby bird-rich locales), Tranquilo Bay is a top pick for birders keen on a birding adventure.

Tranquilo Bay: Check rates and dates

7) Azul Paradise Over-the-Water Resort

Overwater bungalows at Azul Resort, Bocas del Toro
You can choose from overwater bungalows or beach bungalows at the Azul Resort

The Azul Resort has two hotels in Bocas del Toro.

Azul Paradise is located in Bocas town, and the Azul Over-the-Water Resort (or Azul Beach Resort) is on Isla Bastimentos.

The Isla Bastimentos resort has beachfront bungalows on a beautiful white sand beach, as well as bungalows over the water.

Overwater bungalows at Azul, Bocas del Toro
Overwater bungalows at Azul

Some have two bedrooms and come with kitchens, so they’re ideal for families.

All the bungalows have private outdoor showers. And the over-the-water bungalows have glass panels in the floor so you can gaze at the marine life below you.

At night, the air conditioning is turned on to help keep you cool while sleeping. And there’s a flatscreen TV should you feel the need for it.

Azul Over-the-Water Resort: Check rates and dates.

Tip!

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

Weather in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Sunset view of the beach and water from Casa Cayuco, Bocas del Toro
Sunset view of the beach and water from Casa Cayuco

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. The rainy season is May through to December. It rains the most in May, July and August.

For good weather, the months of January to March are the best time to visit Bocas del Toro. These are the driest months.

September and October is also pleasant (a mini dry season within the rainy season).

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 exactly?

Located in the Caribbean Sea in Panama’s province of Bocas del Toro, the archipelago of Bocas del Toro islands is tucked up close to the Costa Rica border.

See this link to Google Maps for the location of Bocas del Toro.

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 bus or public bus from Costa Rica.

Or you can take a night bus from Panama City.

The travel time is about 11 to 12 hours total for both options.

Transfer from Bocas airport to your resort:

The better Bocas del Toro hotels offer a private airport shuttle.

They’ll pick you up from the airport and transfer you to your hotel, either by water taxi (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!

See our review of the Global Hotel Panama.

That’s a wrap for the top hotels and resorts in Bocas del Toro!

Have you been? Which do you think is the best hotel in Bocas del Toro?

You can let us know in the Comments below.

Planning your next trip?

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Best Hotels in Bocas Del Toro, Panama

Photo credits: 9, 11, 13 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 3, 5 Island Plantation | 4 Casa Cayuco | Remaining images courtesy the respective Bocas del Toro resorts


About the authors:

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

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

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 :-).