Beautiful Hotel at Bocas del Toro, PanamaBeautiful Hotel at Bocas del Toro, PanamaPhoto Credit : ChrisGoldNY

Costa Rica is bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Many people who choose to visit this tropical paradise do so by crossing the Panamanian border into Sixaola after they visit Bocas del Toro, an island community just off Panama's Caribbean Coast. This region can be a great side-trip for tourists planning to continue to Costa Rica afterward. I hopped out to Bocas del Toro to see what kinds of exciting things there are to do there - it took me a while, but it sure was worth it!

Beautiful sunset at Bocas del ToroBeautiful sunset at Bocas del ToroPhoto Credit : EcoCircuitos

Caribbean fun

Bocas del Toro is a thriving tourist hotspot located just next to Panama's Marina Isla Bastimentos National Park. The island is renowned for its lush rainforests, crystal-clear waters and pristine beaches - much like Costa Rica!

The area is home to several species of marine turtle. In fact, some of the leatherback turtles for which Tortuguero in Costa Rica is famed begin their migratory journey here. Bluff Beach is a popular area for turtle-spotting, and conservation of these creatures is a major part of Panama's wildlife preservation efforts.

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Watersports enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice when they arrive at Bocas del Toro. The reefs off the coast of the island are perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling, and if you'd rather stay topside, you can rent a small sailboat and set off on an adventure around the island. There are also a few surf spots in the Bocas del Toro but lets save that for another post!

Bat caves

You don't need to be a costumed superhero to take a tour of a real-life batcave! Bocas del Toro is renowned for the extensive network of underground caverns that are home to hundreds of thousands of bats.

There are two main cave entrances for visitors to explore. Tour companies take guests out to La Gruta de Murcielagos, located on the main island of Isla Colon between Bocas Town and the Boca del Drago beach. Once you arrive, you can brave the depths of the caves, but be warned - standing water can reach up to your waist in some areas, so this tour is not for the faint of heart! The water is much shallower in the first cave, so if you don't want to get wet while you see these remarkable creatures in their natural habitat, this is your best bet.

Bocas del Toro is a fantastic place to experience the natural beauty of Central America before exploring everything that Costa Rica has to offer. If you see me when you're out and about on your travels, make sure to say hi!

Hotels and commerce in Bocas del ToroHotels and commerce in Bocas del ToroPhoto Credit : ChrisGoldNY