The archipelago of Bocas del Toro -- with its unique combination of tranquil protected bays, colorful coral reefs, verdant jungle, mysterious mangrove forests, open ocean access, and diverse cultural traditions -- offers a variety of activities rarely found together in a single place. Whatever your interests, we can help you plan independent adventures, group tours, and private customized excursions throughout the islands.
Kayaking: Bocas del Toro is an excellent kayaking destination. From the Sea Monkey, guests can easily kayak to the mangrove forests and indigenous villages of Bahia Honda and the coral reefs and tiny hidden coves of Isla Solarte (including the famed snorkel spot Hospital Point). Guests can kayak around The Point on Isla Bastimentos all the way to Wizard Beach. The more ambitious can circumnavigate Isla Solarte, stopping for snorkel, food, and/or beer breaks along the route (4 hours of kayaking plus breaks) or Isla Caranero (2 hours of kayaking plus breaks). Longer, guided, multi-day trips around Isla Bastimentos or further afield can also be arranged.
Snorkeling: We offer free use of snorkel sets to our guests. Several excellent snorkeling sites are within walking, swimming, or kayaking distance from the Sea Monkey, including the spectacular Hospital Point. Alternatively, snorkeling tours to Cayos Zapatillas, Cayo Coral, Hospital Point, and other sites throughout the islands depart each morning. Customized snorkeling tours are a specialty. Your hosts are serious sea creature enthusiasts!
Diving: Surrounded by coral reefs, the islands of Bocas del Toro offer a wide range of dive sites for divers of all skill levels. Local sites feature caves, wrecks, swim-throughs, pinnacles, gigantic drop-offs, and a wide range of coral formations. In season, we can also arrange overnight or multi-day trips to Escudo de Veraguas -- a group of untouched islands with some of the best diving in the Caribbean.
Surfing: The surf season in Bocas begins in November and lasts through April, with waves picking up again in June and July. We can arrange surf board rental, private and group surf lessons for all levels, transport to breaks around the islands, and guided trips to more remote breaks. Advanced surfers can paddle out to the famed waves at Silver Back and Carenero after a 10-minute walk from the Sea Monkey, and can access the more advanced breaks of Isla Colon – including Paunch, Dumps, and Bluff -- via a 5-minute boat ride and a quick truck taxi or easy bike ride. For beginning to intermediate surfers, the less gnarly Black Rock on Caranero and Old Man's between Carenero and Bastimentos can also be reached via a 10-minute walk and a paddle, while Wizard Beach/Playa Primera on Bastimentos is a 15-minute walk through some beautiful tropical forest. Just ask us for up-to-date information on conditions and spots. There's always something to surf.
Stand-up Paddling: The calm inner bays of Isla Bastimentos, Isla Solarte, Isla Carenero, and Isla Colon provide excellent conditions for stand-up paddling -- or what one local enthusiast refers to as "stand-up snorkeling." We can arrange SUP lessons, board rentals, and excursions around the islands.
Boating and Sailing: Local sailing opportunities include daily group catamaran cruises throughout the islands, private customized day cruises, multi-day charters to destinations further afield, evening sunset dinner cruises, and party-boat trips ranging from a few hours to a few days.
Jetskiing: Jetski rentals with or without a guide are available by the hour on Isla Carenero, 5 minutes away by water taxi.
Fishing: Try your luck at fishing from shore, spearfishing, or diving for lobster and octopus with the locals! Via boat, barracuda and a variety of snappers are found close to shore, while offshore catches include tuna, kingfish, mackerel, and wahoo. Creek fishing is also possible throughout the islands. We can help arrange daily or multi-day fishing charters throughout the region. You can also fish right from our dock with the local kids.
Beaches: Isla Bastimentos boasts some of the best beaches in Bocas del Toro. The closest beach to the Sea Monkey -- and arguably the most beautiful beach on the island -- is Wizard Beach/Playa Primera. It is just a 15-20 minute walk from the Sea Monkey through lush jungle and is usually nearly deserted. A short walk from there, or a short boat ride from our dock, is the famed Red Frog Beach. Those seeking solitude can hike from Red Frog Beach to Polo Beach -- named after a colorful local resident -- and on from there to Long Beach/Playa Larga. In calm conditions, it is also possible to take a boat from our dock to Polo and Long Beach. Guests can take a day tour to the twin Cayos Zapatillas, located at the far tip of Isla Bastimentos, taking in their white sand beaches and excellent snorkeling. Isla Carenero, a 5-minute boat ride away, also features several small, quiet beaches easily reached on foot. On Isla Colon, the two most popular beaches are Starfish/Playa Estrella, which features very calm waters and a variety of casual seafood restaurants situated in the sand, and Playa Bluff, 3 miles of secluded beaches with pounding surf and a few excellent beach bars and restaurants.
Birdwatching: A wide variety of bird species thrive in Bocas del Toro. Swan's Cay, at the northern tip of Isla Colon, is the only place in the Caribbean where the red-billed tropic bird nests. The Cay is also home to the brown booby. Sea birds found throughout the archipelago -- and right in front of the Sea Monkey -- include gulls, pelicans, and terns, as well as frigates. Local mangrove forests host egrets, herons, cormorants, kingfishers, and sandpipers, while the jungles abound with various species of parrot, hummingbird, hawks, owls, woodpeckers, and toucans, to name a few.
Indigenous Community Tours: Half or full day tours can be arranged to one or several of the many indigenous communities in the islands, offering guests the chance to learn about the traditions of Ngobe-Bugle communities. These can easily be combined with chocolate farm tours and visits to remote beaches and caves on Isla Bastimentos. School supplies make great gifts when visiting indigenous communities. Ask us about volunteer opportunities in the village of Salt Creek on Isla Bastimentos.
Hiking: Isla Bastimentos offers a wide variety of hikes of varying difficulty. From the Sea Monkey, guests can take a moderate, 15-20 minute hike to one of the island's best beaches (Wizard/Playa Primera), stopping at Up in the Hill for coffee and snacks made from ingredients grown at the organic farm on the premises or at Coco Hill for organic vegetarian/vegan cuisine made from ingredients grown in their own garden. From Wizard Beach, it is possible to hike to Red Frog Beach and on to Playa Tortuga and Polo Beach. Boat transport back from Red Frog Beach makes it possible to avoid backtracking. Guided jungle hikes in the Bastimentos National Park can also be arranged and tailored to individual interests through Bastimentos Alive. Isla Carenero, a 5-minute boat ride away, can be circumnavigated by foot in about 2 hours of easy hiking along beach trails.
Chocolate Tours: Bocas del Toro is internationally known for its organic, artisanal chocolate. We can arrange tours on Isla Bastimentos that will allow guests to learn about the process of growing cacao and processing it into chocolate. These tours end, of course, with treats.
Caving: Isla Bastimentos boasts two caving adventures. The first, the Nivida Cave, is accessed via a boat upriver in Bahia Honda. After a short hike from the dock through the jungle, guests enter the cave via a waist-high waterway to find bats, stalagmites, stalactites, and a natural swimming pool. Another cave lies upriver from the Salt Creek indgenous community and a visit can be combined with a walk through the village and its surrounding forest with a local guide knowledgeable about edible and medicinal jungle plants. Highly recommended.
Zip-Lining: Zip-line tours through the canopy are offered on Isla Bastimentos at Red Frog Beach. We can help make reservations and arrange transport.
Turtle Nesting: Endangered Leatherback and Hawksbill sea turtles nest throughout the archipelago from March until September, while the eggs hatch between May and November. The easiest way to see the turtles nesting is via a night-time tour to the nesting sites on Bluff Beach on Isla Colon. Local guides will alert us to turtle landings and hatchings so that interested guests can be guaranteed a sighting. We can also arrange longer stays at more remote beaches on Isla Bastimentos for those wishing to volunteer to help protect nesting sites.
Cycling: While Isla Bastimentos is a car-free island, Isla Colon does have roads suitable for cycling, as well as a multitude of bike rental facilities. We can recommend shops with quality bikes suitable for the activities guests have planned. Possibilities include cycling up the main beach road until it ends, or continuing on after it turns into a dirt road that leads all the way to the end of Bluff Beach. Alternatively, avid cyclists can follow the hilly road through the jungle to Bocas del Drago at the far northwestern tip of Isla Colon, about 15 kilometers (9 miles). Both routes pass restaurants and bars for breaks along the way.
Bars and Restaurants: Bocas del Toro is famous for its crystal-clear waters and casual Caribbean atmosphere, both of which can be enjoyed from a seat in one of the many overwater or beachfront bars and restaurants dotting the islands. International and Caribbean food can be found on Isla Bastimentos, as well as on the neighboring islands. We are happy to share our recommendations.
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute: The Smithsonian maintains a research center on Isla Colon that opens to the public on Thursday and Friday afternoons for free. Visitors can learn about the plant and animal species present in the archipelago, and about the Institute's conservation efforts.
Finca Los Monos Botanical Garden: A 25-acre botanical garden located on Isla Colon, Finca Los Monos offers birdwatching tours in the early morning and late afternoon, as well as guided tours through the gardens with guides skilled at spotting monkeys, sloths, birds, and reptiles. The finca also features a pool and a restaurant and bar. Private tours and parties can be arranged.
Shopping: Boutiques featuring tropical fashions, artisanal chocolate, organic Panamanian coffee, and works by local artists and artisans can be found on Isla Colon and Isla Carenero. Locally-owned stalls selling Panamanian crafts and souvenirs can also be found on Isla Colon in Bocas Town.
ATV Rental: ATV rentals can be arranged on Isla Colon by the hour or the day either with or without a guide. Guests can ride through the jungle to Bluff Beach and beyond to a remote and beautiful swimming lagoon known as La Piscina.
Spanish Lessons: Several Spanish schools offer courses to visitors ranging from a single group lesson to multi-week intensive courses. We can also arrange private lessons. Practice with Ryan for free!
Spas: In-room massage and spa treatments can be arranged for our guests, a great activity for a rainy day. There are also several spas in the area that offer massage, facial treatments, and half and full day packages.
Yoga: Private and group yoga lessons are available on Isla Bastimentos as well as on Isla Colon. Private classes on your deck or in your room make a great activity for a rainy day.
Day Trips and Multi-day Trips from Bocas del Toro
San San Pond Sak Wetlands Reserve: A wildlife preserve on the mainland in Bocas del Toro District, San San Pond Sak contains rivers, lakes, swamps, and beaches and is an excellent place for viewing wildlife, including manatees, caimans, frogs, sea turtles, sloths, monkeys, otters, and myriad birds by boat or kayak as well as on foot. We can help arrange day trips, overnight trips, and multi-day trips.
Boquete: A small town in the highlands of Chiriqui Province, Boquete offers abundant hiking and rafting opportunities, as well as visits to indigenous communities and coffee and chocolate farms. Multi-day trips can be arranged to suit individual interests.
Puerto Viejo: Visit the Caribbean seaside town of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica and the Gandoca-Manzanillo National Park. Activities include surfing, hiking, and jungle tours. We can arrange day trips and multi-day excursions.