We abandoned our original plan to visit Bocas Town for three weeks at the end of our stay here. Bocas Town is intense (think Key West, Central American style) so we decided to stay three days. My husband Sam loves to drive, so we also decided to drive the 8 hours to get there.
Things were going along great along the international highway, when my extra astute husband detected a tire problem. We had yet to traverse the mountains to get to the Caribbean side of the island, so this was concerning. We finally found a spot to stop. The tire was bulging along the sides and apparently ready to blow. Sam changed the tire but we were halfway between Coronado and our destination. Should we continue the mountainous terrain on the spare which was not much bigger than a candy life saver?
I won’t keep you in suspense, we continued. It was stressful to be sure and the trip over the mountains was punctuated by winding roads, chickens crossing the road, Indians walking along the narrow highway and banana trucks and busses were whipping around corners. Finally, we arrived in Almarante, where we were told that a man on a bicycle would meet us at the fork in the road and take us to Leezas parking where we would park the car and take the 30 minute water taxi to Bocas Town. Weirdly, it happened just as described and we couldn’t have been happier.
We arrived before nightfall in Bocas Town and actually walked to our hotel which was very nearby. I was so happy to get settled, freshen up and have some of that great seafood that everyone talked about. I was starving so I was excited.
We were just about ready to leave our hotel room when ALL of the lights on the island went out. We carry a flashlight so we wandered around a bit, but the restaurants closed quickly and since we had no idea what to do or where to go we stayed at our hotel. They have a nice restaurant which was also closed but the beer was still ice cold. So keeping with my husbands adage that “beer is food” we sat on the candlelit deck sipping beers. It wasn’t terrible. The lights did go on again after about 30 minutes and we were able to have one of my favorites, Corvina also know as Panamanian Sea Bass.
I had several must-do’s in Bocas, one was Starfish Beach which is in all the travel magazines. The next day we packed our beach things and caught the local bus to the beach. People were packed in pretty tight. We were told it was a five minute walk through the jungle to get to the beach, more like 15 though.
The water is said to be very clear and there are starfish everywhere and tourists are admonished not to touch them. Unfortunately, the beach was great but starfish were not plentiful and I am sure tourists have driven them further out but we did scope out a few.
Next day we took an excursion to several islands. Zapatillo Cay was first. It is totally uninhabited and you are dropped off on the beach and you can explore on your own. There are no restaurants, no beach chairs, nothing. It was really beautiful though. We had lunch and relaxed at another beautiful island where you could look in the water right on the dock and see some beautiful fish and relax on a hammock. Then we took a fast ride through the mangroves and saw sleeping sloths in the trees. We also stopped to watch dolphins. Another great day.
Later, we walked around Bocas Town. There was a festival where adults scream at a devil and pretend to beat him with sticks. There is a kid version, where the devil is smaller but just as much screaming goes on. We discovered a great bar with great music and nice people. Bocas has a lot of tourists, surfing is good and backpackers are plentiful. There are people from all over the world. Also, we ran into an old friend from last year that moved to Bocas, CeCe. We were so happy to see her and catch up.
It was a great trip!