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Of all the tourist destinations in Panama, Bocas del Toro is the place where you can really have it all. During the day you can take a tour to any of the amazing islands of the archipelago, sail, sunbathe, swim, surf, snorkel, hike, ride a bicycle around town, and visit an indigenous village or a botanical garden. At night you can literally go bar hopping, participate in a talent night, go to a costume party, and dance by a shipwreck, find excellent live music, and best of all, no need to drive. Bocas is constantly changing and transforming itself. There’s always something new and by walking in the streets, you can feel the energy of people coming and going who are happy and feel lucky to be there.
One of the country’s best kept secrets is only 15 minutes by plane from Panama City and just over an hour and a half by ferry through the Bay of Panama. The Pearl Islands is an archipelago of hundreds of islands and islets, many uninhabited. Although located off Panama’s Pacific Coast, the islands have a distinctly Caribbean feel with white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Offshore, however, waters are teeming with rich Pacific marine life, perfect for diving, snorkeling, sailing, sports fishing and spotting dolphins and whales. Named by Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa for the abundance of pearls he encountered upon discovering the archipelago in 1513, the islands are also known for producing the largest recorded pearl in the world, "La Peregrina", which once belonged to Elizabeth Taylor.
The beautiful archipelago of San Blas straddles the Caribbean coast of Panama, dotting the water with white sandy beaches and lush greenery. Though most islands are uninhabited, the indigenous Kuna people call the archipelago home, keeping to their traditional way of life. Sail boats carrying travelers to and from Colombia start and finish their journeys at San Blas, and many linger among the islands for a week or so, soaking up the sea, the sun and the breathtaking scenery.
The island of flowers, as it is known, is just one hour by ferry from the Amador Causeway in Panama City. This popular haunt for pirates from days of yore is now a sleepy little island perfect for enjoying a day in the sun, swimming or practicing watersports. There are a few hotels and restaurants available and, for the energetic, there is a good hike up to a viewing point on a hill. This island is a favorite well to do Panamanian weekend getaway, especially for its proximity to Panama city, although it may take 1 hour for the ferry ride but faster boats can reach Isla Taboga in 20 to 30 minutes.
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