When I told a friend of mine where I’d be spending part of my birthday trip in Central America, he told me I was never going to want to leave. I wasn’t so sure.
You see, I’m a mountain girl, and sometimes after days on the beach, I begin to miss the peaks that frequently call me home.
Bocas del Toro, Panama would undoubtedly be a beach trip. It’s an archipelago off Panama’s northeastern coast, a collection of more than nine little islands floating in the calm waters of the Caribbean Sea.
My girlfriends, my sister and I planned to spend three nights glamping (glamourous camping) on Bastimentos Island’s Red Frog Beach. We rented a quaint little tent equipped with two queen beds, a trunk with a lock and two lights. We stepped off our porch into the sand, and followed the trail past a tinkle-lit bar to the shoreline, led by the sound of waves crashing up onto shore.
We arrived at night, having rented a boat taxi from the main island of Bocas del Toro to Bastimentos, and then following a well-marked trail to our tent community called Palmar Tent Lodge, so our early morning surprise at where we had landed was spectacular.
We whiled our three days away a little too quickly — reading in the hammocks, sunning on the beach chairs, exploring other islands by boat, meeting interesting people in the restaurant/bar (especially the employees, who are all work exchange volunteers) — and decided it wasn’t enough.
So we booked two more nights.
One of the highlights was exploring the island of Zapatilla (Isla Zapatilla), which is a national park and is completely uninhabited. When our boat approached, our jaws fell open. The water was so perfectly clear, so amazingly turquoise, the sand so white, so refined. It was unlike anything any of us had ever seen, and combined, we’ve seen a lot of beaches.
It was only us and a few other boat loads of people. We relaxed on its shores, and took a walk around the majority of the island, where we met a couple from La Grande, Oregon (the owners of Bud Jackson’s Bar) who knew people from my hometown, and we marveled at how small the world really is. What are the chances of having a shared connection with someone you meet on a tiny remote island where nobody lives? This is one of the many reasons I love to travel.
We explored Star Fish Beach, spent time in the colonial city of Bocas del Toro, met locals, feasted on seafood, and celebrated life and love and vacations.
But my friend was right. We didn’t want to leave. Even five nights wasn’t enough, and we forcefully had to remove ourselves from the islands in order to return to Costa Rica in time for my two friends to catch their flight home.
Sometimes, though, bittersweet goodbyes are the best. They’re the ones that leave an imprint in our hearts and in our minds, especially when you’re waving goodbye to a place where too much time just might spoil the beauty of it all, and not enough leaves you aching for more.
Want to book a flight? Sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights and keep your eye our for Panama! Just today, there was an offer in my inbox for a round-trip to Panama City for $193 USD from LAX!
Glamping in Bocas del Toro, Panama