Surf Bocas del Toro Panama Surfing Travel
Geography: The Boca's del Toro Archipelago consists of nine islands, 52 keys and some 200 tiny islets located on the North West Caribbean Coast of Panama its geographical coordinates are 9° 20' 0" North, 82° 15' 0" West. The largest and most developed island is Colon Island, where the capital of the province, the town of Boca's del Toro, is located. The total population of the archipelago is around 9000 people, of whom roughly half live in the town of Boca's del Toro.
Culture: There is a wide range of different peoples in Boca's. You are more likely to hear English spoken in Boca's than anywhere else in Panama. The islands are the indigenous home of the Ngöbe-Buglé indian people. Then came Afro-Caribbean workers English-speaking islands of Jamaica, San Andreas, and Providence to work on the banana plantations that prospered in the archipelago a century ago. Now many Americans and Europeans are setting up home here.
Currency: The US dollar is the currency used throughout Panama. They do have there own coins which are the same size and denominations as the US quarter, dime and nickel. There is an ATM machine in the main town of Bocas if you need more cash.
Getting To The Bocas del Toro Panama
To get to The Bocas del Toro requires flights from two different airports in Panama City. I learned this the hard way so allow at least 3-4 hours between your international and commuter flight times.
To Panama City: Take your pick of airlines. I chose Continental because the flight was $310.00 you can bring (2) surfboards for $100.00 in one bag. If you take (3) surfboards they can charge an outrageous $400.00.
Fly into Panama City Tocumen International Airport. From there you will need to go to the regional airport which is about a 20-30 minute cab ride on the other side of the city. Depending on what time you arrive you will most likely miss the last commuter flight to the Bocas del Toro and have to spend the night in Panama City. I stayed at the Las Vegas Suites for $72/night. The cab ride from the airport to The Las Vegas Suites will cost you at least $20.00.
To Bocas del Toro: You will need to take a cab to the airport from your hotel. From the Las Vegas Suites it was only $10.00 one way.
You have two choices of airlines; Aeroperlas and Air Panama. Surfboards are subject to space available on the plane. No space no surfboards. If this happens ship them as cargo on Aeroperlas. It will cost about $15.00 and they will arrive the same day. This happened to me on the return flight but my thankfully my boards arrived about 1 hour after I arrived.
I chose Air Panama but Aeroperlas looked a little nicer. The round trip cost was $144.00 plus luggage. On Air Panama you are only allowed 25 pounds and they charge extra for any additional weight and $10.00 per surfboard which cost me a total of $47.00. The flight from Panama City to Bocas del Toro is about 1 hour in a twin prop commuter plane.
Once in Bocas there are many places to stay. I went to Red Frog Bungalows for the first five nights and Scott Balogh was there at the airport to pick me up. Scott is the man down in the Bocas and I highly recommend surfing with him if you want to score the best waves. For the last five nights I stayed at Hotel Las Olas in town. It was a fairly nice, clean hotel on the water with a nice bar and dining area. It was $42/night which included breakfast. A cab ride from the airport to Hotel Las Olas was $2.
Unpack you boards and take a water taxi out for a surf. From Hotel Las Olas to the closest surf spot, Carenaro was $3 each way.
Eateries: For lunch I ate a Lily's Cafe with was really good. For dinner I loved the Lemon Grass and Refugio.
Panama, Central America Swell Model
Mexico and Cental America Swell Model Courtesy of LaJollaSurf.org