Bocas is perhaps what you would expect. These beautiful Panamanian islands attract all sort of foreigner, from retired American expats to 20-something backpackers. And for good reason. The laid-back town, array of intriguing food and shopping, and long stretches of generally empty beaches make for a pretty good getaway. Throw in some high quality surfing at the right time of year and you’ve got yet another demographic making its way to Bocas’ becoming golden beaches.
In Bocas Town, you can keep yourself occupied for quite a while. Food options range from budget (solid meal for about $4.25) to high-end, as does the shopping. There are a number of bars that range from quiet and funky, to live music venues to waterfront and packed, with DJs spinning dance tunes.
The real treasures of the island, however, are to be found as you explore. Bikes, motorcycles, and ATVs can be rented at numerous shops in Bocas Town (Bikes run about $5 for half a day) and are a great way of getting around the island. We rented a couple from Rasta Bike Rentals (or something to that effect) and headed out of town towards Bluff Beach. Along the way, there were plenty of places to stop and poke around, take a few photos, and then carry on. When we made it to the beach (about 7 km from town), it was a sight for sore eyes. Bluff is a huge expanse of sand, stretching alongside the road for at probably close to 10 kilometres. The main entrance is what you will come across first, but there are plenty of access paths along the beach, and it is easy to claim your own stretch of deserted sand. The waves are big enough to make for a fun time playing around, and the surf picks up here at other times of the year.
After lounging around on the beach for a couple of hours, we made our way back into town. Our next stop was Panama City. There are two direct buses daily from Almirante to the city, leaving early in the morning and then again in the evening. The trip takes about 10 hours and costs $28. You can purchase bus tickets from the water taxi office. We boarded a 5 p.m. water taxi and then caught a shared taxi to the bus stop ($1 per person), which got us there with plenty of time to spare before our 7:30 p.m. bus left. Yay, overnighters.