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
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.
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!
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…
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.
2 more best places to stay in Bocas del Toro
La Loma Jungle Lodge:
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.
After a large renovation, La Loma recently reopened (early 2021), with several new indoor/outdoor bungalows and a new main lodge-and-restaurant.
La Loma | Check rates and availability
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
Weather in Bocas del Toro, Panama
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. 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.
Do you love gorgeous hotels? Then read our post on 27+ epic resorts with private pool suites!
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Photo credits: 13 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 2, 3, 5 Island Plantation | 4 Casa Cayuco | Remaining images courtesy the respective Bocas del Toro resorts