Isla Colon is the most populated island in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, and the capital of the Bocas del Toro province. Most of the hotels, restaurants, bars, tour operators, and businesses are located right in Bocas Town on Isla Colon, as is the Bocas del Toro International Airport. Isla Colon is the main take off point for most visitors that want to explore the Bocas del Toro islands.
Bocas Town sits on the southern most node of Isla Colon, and it is the capital and main town of the Bocas del Toro islands. Though Bocas Town is the bustling center of the area, it is still small and easy to get around. Most hotels, restaurants, and bars are located on 1st, 2nd and 3rd street (Main St). In the center of town is the Simon Bolivar Park where artisans sell food and handicrafts. Taxis cost less than $1 pretty much anywhere in town, but the best way to get around is on a bicycle.
Walk around Bocas Town and explore the shops for artisan work. The Bri-Bri gift shop is an excellent choice for Panamanian artisan work as well as local Bocas del Toro handicrafts. The Guna shops are located at the end of Main St. in front of Hotel Las Brisas. There you can buy molas, Bocas del Toro handicrafts, and other hand-made jewelry items.
There are lots of bars and restaurants in Bocas Town, in fact, you might be surprised at the quality and variety of food you can find in such a small town. Over-the-water restaurants and bars offer happy hour specials from late afternoon onward. Look out for small restaurants over the water with spectacular views. At night, Bocas Town lights up with reggae bars, deep-house sushi bars with live DJs, and even Full Moon Parties. Follow Bocas del Toro on Facebook for the latest updates on where to go.
Isla Colon hosts some of the best beaches in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. The calmest beaches for swimming are Starfish Beach, Sandfly Beach, and Big Creek Beach.
Bluff Beach is among the most beautiful beaches anywhere in Bocas but be very careful if you plan on swimming there. The waves at Bluff Beach can cause strong riptides that can pose a serious danger. We recommend you only swim at Bluff Beach when the water is nearly flat. Ask your hotels about how the surf is. If there are waves be careful with rip tides and currents. Take caution when swimming on most beaches going up towards Bluff there are some calm pools to swim in among the reef, but sit a watch a while before you jump into the water. There are signs up along the road with information on how to look out for and deal with riptides.
Starfish Beach, Isla Colon
You can reach Bocas del Drago and Starfish beach for $5 on the bus that leaves from in front of the park in Bocas Town everyday about every two hours starting at 10:00 a.m. or in one of the collectivos that leave every once in a while when they fill up. Bocas del Drago is also a great option for snorkeling. Just off the beach is the Yarisnori Restaurant, serving up some of Bocas del Toro’s best seafood. Have lunch and then enjoy great snorkeling just out front. You can also walk over to Starfish beach or take a boat tour to Bird Island. By far the most popular beach and one of the most beautiful is Starfish Beach, which is also the only beach other than Zapatillas along the leeward side where they are sheltered from waves and riptides.
Bird Island Isla Colon
Bird Island is a small rocky outcropping just out from the northern tip of Isla Colon. Sea birds such as terns, frigates, shearwaters, and gulls circle around the island while smaller forest dwelling birds flit in and out of the dense canopy. This is the only place in Panama you can see the Red-Billed Tropicbird, identifiable by the long ribbon-like tail feathers flowing behind them as the glide around the island.
Hotels in Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro
Lula’s Bed and Breakfast: Bocas Town
Hostel Mar e Iguana & Irie Lion Musik Bar: Playa Ismito
Pukalani Hostel: Big Creek
Sand Dollar Beach Bed & Breakfast: Big Creek
Tesoro Escondido: Bluff Beach
Hotel Bocas del Toro: Bocas Town
Hotel Swan’s Cay: Bocas Town
Tungara Hostels: Bocas Town
Restaurants in Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro
Om Cafe and Bar: Bocas Town
El Ultimo Refugio: Bocas Town
Bocas Wine Bar: Bocas Town