Why take a tour with Coconut?
You’ll have a truly UNIQUE experience. Coconut tours are 100% original; you won’t find them anywhere else in Bocas del Toro. You’re experiencing parts of Bocas that few travelers get to see…just promise to keep our secrets safe.
You won’t miss out. With all its islands, beaches, and “secret spots,” it’s easy to skip over the best of Bocas… and not even know it! With us, you don’t need to worry about missing out. We take you to the most unforgettable places out there.
Tours are offered throughout the week, according to what our travelers want to see. Just stop by our tour desk when you get to Coconut Hostel and we’ll get you set up!
About the Beaches and Islands
Bird Island (Swans’ Cay)
Swans’ Cay, also known as Bird Island is birders paradise. Here you’ll find the only known nesting place in the Caribbean of the Red-billed Tropic Bird (Phaeton aethereus). Swan’s Cay is a rocky formation approximately 70 meters long, with a rounded quarter moon shape, pierced by two openings through one end, and rises 55 meters at the highest point. On the southern side, sheltered from the northeastern trade winds, there is a small sandy beach below a higher level area. Bushes and other vegetation cover the summit, and there is a small clump of coconut palms at the low end. A designated bird sanctuary, Isla Pajaros, also has brown booby (Sula leucogaster etesiaca), the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis carolinensis), the frigate (Fregata magnificens) and many types of gulls and terns.
Dolphin Bay – Laguna Bocatorito
The Archipelago of Bocas del Toro is home to a semi-permanent population of Bottlenose dolphins. Its calm waters and abundance of small fish, crustaceans and squid seem to make the perfect grounds for the young ones’ first stages of life. Calves and juveniles can be frequently spotted with their mothers, as well as small pods of 5 or 6 dolphins.
The dolphins of Bocas del Toro seem to have a special predilection for the bay locally known as Laguna Bocatorito (Dolphin Bay), which is about 12 km south of Bocas Town (about 15 – 20 minutes by boat). This bay is bordered by the east side of Cristobal Island and an odd-shaped peninsula from the mainland. A labyrinth of shallow channels formed by mangroves screens its northern entrance, helping to make it a kind of giant natural aquarium, six kilometers across at its widest.
Most boat tours in Bocas del Toro include a visit to Dolphin Bay as it is almost guaranteed to spot some dolphins graciously playing around. The best chance of seeing them is during those months when the swell is up (January to March, June and July) as they are driven to these calmer waters.
Cayo Coral (Coral Cay)
One of the most famous snorkeling spots in Bocas del Toro, Cayo Coral is a tiny island located in the channel between Bastimentos and Popa Island (about 20 minutes by boat from Bocas Town, or 10 – 15 minutes from Dolphin Bay). Cayo Coral is surrounded by lush coral gardens, the best of which begin just after the south-eastern tip of Bastimentos Island (make sure your boat driver takes you there, and not just to where the restaurants are).
The sea here is calm year-round, which make it suitable for snorkelers of all ages, and the abundance of tropical fish, coral heads and colorful sponges will keep experienced divers entertained as well. Water clarity is better than at other places but as always it depends on if it’s rained during the previous days. On the typical Caribbean day with lots of sunshine and light blue skies, the waters of Cayo Coral are of luminous emerald green shades and make the perfect holiday postcard.
There are three restaurants on this cay built on stilts over the water, so most visitors will order some fresh sea food before heading out to snorkel and in this way a delicious meal will be awaiting for them once they’re back. The food is simple but fresh and flavorful (and a bit more expensive than on Bocas Town).
Located on the south-eastern border of the Bastimentos National Marine Park, the Zapatillas Cays are two stunning islands that emerge from a coral platform and are surrounded by tropical coral reef. About a 30 minute boat ride from Cayo Coral (roughly 8 kms), the Zapatillas Islands are generally considered the most beautiful islands of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago and offer visitors pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters and some of Panama’s most attractive coral reefs.
Some say they receive their name from a fruit that grow in its forests, and yet others because their shape resemble a pair of running shoes (” zapatillas” in Spanish).
Western Zapatilla or “Zapatilla Menor”, is less than half the size of its eastern counterpart, and is nesting ground for the Green Marine Turtle. Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles lay their eggs on both islands. This island is more visited by scientists than by tourists.
Eastern Zapatilla or “Zapatilla Mayor” is home to the ranger station (the rest of the cays are uninhabited), where a $10 Park Fee is collected from visitors ($3 for Panamanians). The best snorkeling and diving in Major Zapatillas can be found towards the south-eastern coast, about 300 meters from the beach in a spot known as Coral Islands. This spot is relatively shallow and has the most beautiful coral formations with lots of tropical fish, and its crevices hide many lobsters, crabs, eels and an immense amount of tiny sea invertebrates. If you want more than a just a gorgeous reef, on the Zapatillas’ north shore, you can go behind the breakers (the reefs that break the incoming waves… when there are waves). If the sea permits (mainly May, September, October), you’ll find a wall formed by the reef, that contains small caves and tunnels, up to 40 feet deep.
All of the beaches on the islands are excellent for swimming, and there is a rough 45-minute nature trail that makes its way through mangrove swamp. With some difficulty, you can complete the circuit through the center of the island and return along the beach.
Red Frog Beach
About a 10 minute boat ride from Bocas Town gets you to the Red Frog Marina, from where a 15 minute hike across the narrowest point of Bastimentos Island allows you to reach Red Frog Beach. With 0.75 miles of white and golden sand, Red Frog Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Bocas del Toro.
The north shore of Bastimentos Island hosts some of Bocas’ most beautiful beaches and Red Frog is one of the more accessible ones, and the only one with a few facilities such as a couple of restaurants and bathrooms. It receives its name from the poison-dart frogs that are abundant in Bastimentos’ hills. If you’re lucky enough you might encounter a three-toed sloth or some monkeys as well.
Due to its ease of access many boat tours make Red Frog Beach their last stop during the day, providing you with a lively environment with travelers from all over the world (anything between 100 and 300 people). During low season, it is a lot quieter. If you happen to arrive to Red Frog and feel the need for more space to yourself you can always hike a bit to the east (Turtle Beach) or to the west in direction to Wizard Beach (Playa Primera), or simply go to another beach in Bocas del Toro with less people… there are loads of secluded beaches in Bocas.
Famous for its abundance of starfish (you’ll literally encounter hundreds of them in this beach), Starfish Beach is a must visit destination of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago. Starfish beach is located on Colon Island, on its north-western side (opposite side of Bocas Town). Even though it can be reached by bus from Bocas Town (30 minutes), most tours that visit Bird Island (about 30 minutes from Bocas Town by boat) make a stop at this beach, either before or after lunch. It’s about a 20 minute boat ride back to town from Starfish Beach.
Due to its location, its waters are very calm during most of the year, except during certain times in November and December when the swell comes up from the north. Its crystal clear waters and abundance of starfish make it a big favourite amongst visitors of all ages. Definitively one of the most beautiful beaches in Bocas del Toro.
The 360 or so tropical islands off Panama’s northern coast are home to the Kuna people, who since a revolution against the Panamanian government in 1925 have maintained political autonomy from the mainland. As such, they control tourism on their own terms – a very rare thing for an indigenous group. They know how many visitors are coming to their islands on a given day, where they will be staying, and they benefit directly from most of the tourist dollars spent. Aside from fuel for their motorboats, much of it goes on education, health or permaculture.
But are these islands actually worth going to in the first place? Well, picture this: the place you’ll stay on will genuinely look like a Robinson Crusoe hideaway. The sand will be white and fine, the sea will be bathwater warm, coconut palms will provide welcome shade, the snorkeling will be excellent, and there probably won’t be more than fifteen of you there. The Kuna will feed you and take you to other islands, but otherwise they will just let you be. It is, genuinely, a little piece of paradise.
Our Tour Packages
Tour & snorkel
Zapatilla Cay & Dolphin Bay & Coral Cay & Sloth island & Star beach.
Touch of Nature
Tour & snorkel
Coral Cay & Red Frog beach & Dolphin Bay & Sloth island & Star beach
Tour & snorkel
Playa Estrella & Bird Island & Bocas Del Drago
Tour & snorkel
Red Frog beach & Star beach & Hospital point
Panama city – San blas
(round trip, all inclusive)
Every day 05:30. 2 days, 1 night, free tour, hosting, drinks, all food, transport, extra night only $20.00 (all inclusive)!
San Blas – Colombia
Only 6 hour way! One way, two times a week.
* Prices are in US Dollars. The above prices are per person and do not include the $3 entree fee to Red Frog, nor the $10 National Park Entrance fee to Zapatillas Island. Rates include boat tour, guide and snorkeling masks. A minimum of 2 guests is required to book any of these tours. Tour itinerary can change depending on sea conditions.