Bocas del Toro:
Bastimentos Island (Part 3)
Sunday, May 13th, 2012
The water taxi pangas will take you just about anywhere in the islands for from $5.00 and on up depending on what you are looking for. I chose one of the best known tourist attractions, Red Frog Beach on the island of Bastimentos.
For a day of exploration, I caught a $5.00 panga to Bastimentos. After half an hour ride I was dropped at the private marina. From there I walked on the manicured white gravel road across the island to the renowned Red Frog beach. Along the way the bushes were trimmed and the plants were decoratively placed. It was all a bit too civilized for me. I prefer the primitive jungle trails of Costa Rica’s Caribbean.
But the beach was gorgeous, there was no doubt about it – stunningly clear water in every hue of blue from pale turquoise to deep, dark indigo. Tourists were strewn along the shoreline, swimming and sunbathing. The sun was HOT – hotter than it is in Costa Rica. Apparently Panama being closer to the equator makes a noticeable difference. As I walked along I came upon a delightful place called Palmar Tent Camping – the sister hotel to Casa Verde. I’ve never seen such a sweet jungle setting with cute little tents, all cozy, clean and bright. What a fun idea!
I enjoyed my three days in Bocas del Toro, but I am pleased to still say,”There is no place like home.” I love where I live in Puerto Viejo on Costa Rica’s Caribbean, just north of Bocas del Toro. Bocas is a boat town – Puerto Viejo is beach. Bocas is a big small town – Puerto Viejo is small town comfy. For me, Puerto Viejo offers much more variety in which to play and explore. The mountain jungles and waterfalls are just minutes away. But then I only saw a small part of the many Islands of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago. I’m sure I’ll be back to discover more.
I recently made another trip to Bocas and stayed at a different place. I like Casa Verde but it’s a bit too “backpacker” for me. If you are in your 20s – 30s and want to socialize it is great. But for someone a bit more sophisticated who likes the amenities, Hotel Olas is nicer and only costs $5.00 more. My $35.00 (low season price) room had a nice view, private bathroom, TV and A/C. It is much more comfortable. I must admit, at Casa Verde I felt a little out of place. Las Olas feels more like a place for grownups.
I also did more exploring on this trip. I took a public bus from the central park to Bocas del Drago, which is on the other side of the island. There I found Starfish Beach. It was very pretty with many golden starfish in the shallows. Watch out for the sharp shells in the sand, though. The tiny glass-like splinters are everywhere in the sand and prick your bare feet. After asking around a bit I discovered that these little prickly things come from the starfish. They are not found on the other local beaches. Apparently it is a protective mechanism the starfish carry in their skin. When they die and decompose, it falls into the sand and is washed ashore. Stepping on these splinters are not all that painful but rather an annoyance. Yet three weeks after being exposed to this on Starfish Beach, I still have a few sore spots on my toes. Next time I will not walk barefoot on Starfish Beach.
There is much more to the island of Colon than Bocas Town. You can ride a bike along the coast and discover some beautiful beaches. Everywhere the water is calm and clear and colorful marine life abounds.