Wonderful and Wild Bocas del Toro

Trip Start Jan 04, 2008
Trip End Dec 17, 2008

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Where I stayed
Gran Kahuna

Flag of Panama  , Bocas del Toro,
Thursday, May 15, 2008

Had a lot of fun in my few days in Bocas Del Toro, a group of islands off the north west coast of Panama quite close to the Costa Rican border. Bocas is a hugely popular and very fast growing backpackers destination and its easy to understand why with the superb setting, watersports, beaches and buzzing nightlife. Highly enjoyable boat ride from Changuinola on mainland Panama to get over to Isla Colon, the main island of the Bocas Del Toro archipelago, which was where I was staying. The boat ride takes a very scenic route up an old canal that used to be used by the banana plantations years ago but is now vegetation and birdlife. In Bocas I enjoyed some great snorkelling on the coral reefs at "cayo crawl" and "hospital point" (so named because there used to be a hospital there a long time ago, not because it's dangerous in some way) with lots of colourful fishes to see and clear blue water - much better snorkelling than Cahuita a few days ago. I also went on the boat out to "Dolphin Bay" and "Red Frog Beach, neither of which disappointed in living up to their names as we saw lots of dolphins jumping and flipping out of the water (really cool!) and the little red and black frogs near to the beach which is on another island called Bastimentos. Bocas town is a bit of a party zone and the nights out were great - you tend to meet many other travellers pretty quickly as the main area of Bocas is actually pretty small and itīs a very sociable place. The social bonding process is undoubtedly speeded by regular early evening drinking games in "Mondo Taitu", a cool hostel and little bar which offered happy hour beers at 25p a bottle! There also seemed to be "ladies nights" in one of the bars each night - which involves the girls getting virtually unlimited free alcohol (more extreme than the UK where it might be free entry or one free drink) ... I guess it has some business sense to it as naturally lots of girls getting free alcohol means lots of guys wanting to be in the same bar and buying lots of alcohol ... or else just stealing the girls free drinks :) Finally everyone rounds the night off into the early hours at one of two places, either Aqua or Barco Hundido. Aqua is a hostel and bar right on the seafront on another island called Caranero, but only across a 200m channel to get there (a one-dollar boat ferry takes people all night) "Aqua" lives up to its name by having a pool and diving board as well as a bouncy trampoline outside in the sea ... so people have fun flinging themselves into the water before returning, dripping wet, to the adjacent bar and dance floor. Barcos used to be called the "wreck deck" as it is set around a little pool with an illumimated wreck below and also has a large deck area right on the seafront so you can sit with your drinks and feet in the water ... all very pleasant indeed. However, after three nights of Bocas town nightlife I decided I really ought to escape in order to preserve both my liver and my sanity - so I decided to head for the tranquility of the Chiquiri highlands and Boquete for a bit of a quieter time. Of course I enjoy the party nights on my trip a lot and itīs really easy to get sucked in for a longer stay with the new friends you make, but I actually find it best all round for me when I mix things up - I like to have several quiet days, after which you really feel like some big nights out ... then I seem to enjoy everything more. As an aside, I was pleased to see my travel blog hit a major milestone today - there have apparently been 3,000 unique visitors to the "garygapyear" blog ... now I figure even allowing for a significant chunk of those "visitors" actually being me reviewing some entries from different internet cafe PCīs, that still leaves a surprisingly large number of readers ... so let me offer a thank you to all the garygapyear readers out there :) ... please keep coming back and reading the updates!
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garygapyear on

Re: thank you
Cheers Heta , hope you´re enjoying life in Berlin !
Pls can you translate the Finnish :)Gary

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