Topping our list and claiming the number one position in the “Best Beaches of Bocas del Toro” countdown is Red Frog Beach. The most accommodating of all the beaches in Bocas del Toro, Red Frog sits on a gorgeous stretch of Isla Bastimentos and is bookended by two popular restaurant bars. Having these amenities conveniently within reach allows beachgoers to enjoy a day in the sun without too much prior planning. With water and food taken care of, it’s always guaranteed great day to show up, pay the park entry fee, hitch a ride on the beach shuttle or take a scenic 10 minute jungle walk and find yourself on the shore of one of the most picturesque coastlines offered in the archipelago. At one end of the beach, Palmar Tent Lodge has an amazing patio with comfy chairs and couches, and often has daytime BBQs, live music, and a tasty lunch menu. Just a short walk away, Punta Lava Bar & Grill also has an established menu, a bar full of tasty island cocktails and even a WiFi hotspot. While some prefer to shack up in the shade of the jungle foliage for free, for just a few bucks you can rent a lawn chair or a shady cabana for the afternoon. The water doesn’t get too rough for most of the year and is appealing to families with children, as well as bodysurfers and those who just love to splash around. This popular beach provides ample people watching while still allowing plenty of space for sports, relaxation, and activities. It’s a perfect and charming mix of small-town paradise with all of the amenities of the more populated tourist destinations in Central America.
Coming in at #2 on our Top 10 Beaches in Bocas del Toro Countdown is Playa Bluff – Bluff is the largest and most beautiful beach on Isla Colón. It is secluded, pristine and also the least crowded! At five miles in length, it is easy to claim your own section of prime beach real estate. Although lounging on Bluff beach is as relaxed as it gets, the sea can be rough at times. Notorious for it’s powerful shore-break waves, each year Bluff draws professional surfers from around the globe in search of the perfect barrel. When these guys are out shredding it’s best to hang beachside and snap photos. Outside of surf season (Dec – April) is the best time to enjoy the sea here. Interestingly, Bluff Beach is also a very active Turtle Nesting area, in particular for the critically endangered leatherback and hawksbill turtles. Stunningly gorgeous and perfect for lounging, coconut bocce ball and ultimate Frisbee, Bluff Beach narrowly misses the first position on our Top 10 Beaches in Bocas del Toro countdown. Stay tuned for the number one spot…
Coming in at #3 on our “Top Ten Beaches of Bocas del Toro Countdown” are Las Islas Zapatillas. This pristine and remote set of islands offers by far the best place in the entire Bocas del Toro archipelago to completely escape and “get away’ from it all. A half hour boat ride from Isla Colon (on a fast ponga) Zapatilla is composed of two breathtakingly beautiful islands that emerge from the surrounding coral reef. They are protected as a part of the Bastimentos National Marine Park and are completely undeveloped, appearing in the same natural state as they have for millennia. Small in size, they can be properly explored and circumnavigated in just a half hour. With colorful reef scattered in the shallows surrounding each island, Zapatilla is also superb for snorkeling. Whether you’re seeking solitude, romance or seclusion with a close group of friends, these two slices of paradise will never disappoint. So get in the Cast Away spirit and claim your own island – or two – for the day!
Coming in at #4 is Starfish Beach – Unlike any other beach in Bocas del Toro, Starfish Beach (or “Playa Estrella”) is located on the remote, unexposed side of Isla Colón. The shoreline is shaped like a bay, so it doesn’t catch any swell – making for placid turquoise waters and a relaxed vibe. There is room for a volleyball court, a couple small restaurants, and the newest addition to the beach activities – along with kayaks and floating lounge chairs – are the water bikes. You can rent them by the hour and peddle your way up and down the shore line and over to the mangroves, getting a clear view of the hundreds of starfish lazing the day away in the calm, shallow waters. Wakeboarding behind a ponga boat is also a must-try for those feeling adventurous. This beach is particularly good for those with young children due to the calm seas and shallow incline. Buses and taxis trek back and forth daily to the area, dropping off at the nearby Boca del Drago Beach, which is also accessible by bicycle or ATV. Our favorite way to storm this beach, however, is by sea – in one of our luxe sailboat options or 2-story houseboat.
This magical stretch of land is a favorite among many for its expansive beach, ample privacy, gorgeous surroundings and consistent surf. The beach is tucked away in an untouched region of Isla Bastimentos, and is only accessible on foot or by boat (when the surf will allow it). Our favorite way to reach this spot is to make a day of it. Take a lancha boat from Isla Colon to the main dock in Bastimentos town. Hike up to the top of the island through the indigenous village for an amazing view – possibly stopping in at “Up on the Hill” for some local coffee and delicious local chocolate. You’ll follow the sound of crashing waves on your descent from the top, until finally reaching a stunning jungle meadow with the shore of Wizard beach in sight. You’re likely to only see a few other people here (if any) on any particular day, and is a great place to take in sun, swim, surf, or relax in a virginal jungle environment. If you’re still feeling adventurous, it’s possible to hike around the point through dense jungle and thick mud to reach Red Frog Beach. There are no restaurants nearby, so be sure to pack all essentials in a day pack – plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and never forget the frisbee
For anyone looking to hang at the beach with cold beers, food and friends nearby – or simply to grab a quick lunch and take in some sun – Paki Point is the perfect place to lounge away an afternoon. Just a beautiful 15 minute coastal bike ride from town, Paki Point is a common stopping point and meeting ground for Bocas del Toro locals, stunning tourists, families, and anyone else who enjoys grabbing a burger and a beer on their way to Bluff Beach – or any of the remote spots along Isla Colón. With Tiger Tails surf break directly in view, the daytime entertainment is free. The atmosphere is chic – with an abundance of comfortable couches, beach chairs, recliners and tables – and you’ll always have a place to rest your tush and enjoy the sounds of the Caribbean (or live bands & DJ’s) while enjoying great company. This is also one of the most remote spots on the island that has a solid Wi-Fi connection – so if you’re looking to catch up on some emails, torture your Facebook friends with photos, Skype with friends or family, or actually catch up on some “Work” (ew!) this is the most ideal spot to do it. Paki Point is a a must stop for anyone checking out the Isla Colón coastline.
One of the most beautiful stretches of beach on Isla Bastimentos, this secluded section of coastline is ringed by a gorgeous coral reef, keeping the water calm and providing one of the most optimal environments in Bocas del Toro for snorkeling. It’s very likely that you’ll be the only ones enjoying Polo Beach on any particular day, as it’s only accessible by jungle hike or direct shoreline access by boat during calmer seas. The beach gets its name from an infamous “Polo” character who left the spoils of civilization to make this stretch of land his home for years on end. Like many species of rare indigenous frogs and other wildlife native to Bastimentos, he can still be spotted occasionally in the area.
A hidden treasure, this cove is so secluded that we can’t spoil it’s secrecy by publishing it’s exact whereabouts! We will say that it’s in a remote stretch of Isla Colon, tucked away from everything, including the open ocean. A narrow water inlet feeds the Caribbean Sea into a football-field-sized turquoise green pool, surrounded by jungle and filled with colorful coral and starfish. As far as romance goes, it doesn’t get any better – you just need to figure out how to get there first. Good luck!!
Coming in at #9 on our “Top 10 Beaches” Countdown is Carenero Beach – Just a 4 minute water taxi from Isla Colon, Carenero Beach is by far the most easily accessible of all the beaches in Bocas del Toro. Sitting on the edge of Jurassic Park-esque jungle backdrop, this small stretch of white sand is a very popular afternoon hangout spot. The extending wooden dock is the perfect setting for a good read or to watch the surfers boat by on their way to surf Old Man’s, Black Rock and Carenero Point. At just $3 round trip, and with restaurants and hangout spots like Bibi’s on the Beach and Aqua Lounge right around the corner, many locals agree that Carenero beach is the best way to catch some sun on a “busy” island day!
Coming in at #10 on the “Top 10 Most Beautiful Beaches of Bocas del Toro” Countdown – La Cabaña (City Beach). Although not as stunning as other beaches in Bocas del Toro, City Beach is just a short 5 minute bike ride or 10 minute walk from town – perfect for a run, evening stroll or a game of beach volleyball. It’s also the most popular beach for the local indigenous people. The kids, always smiling, can be found splashing in the shallows or aggressively competing in a game of soccer (fútbol in Panama). Be sure to take advantage of the $1 beers and $4 meals at any of the satiating Panamanian restaurants along the shore!