Bocas del Toro is an archipelago made up of 9 main islands, 52 cays, and thousands of islets. Each island has a unique set of beaches and landscapes. While other islands offer lodging options they don’t have much in the shopping or entertainment department.
The main island of Isla Colón is the perfect jumping off spot for all of your adventure needs. It also provides the most amenities to ensure an enjoyable stay. Isla Colón has the only ATM, several small grocery/convenience/hardware stores. Plus, plenty of bars and restaurants. While you can buy almost anything you would need on Isla Colón, some hot tourist commodity items are priced based on demand, so we recommend bringing a few key items.
- Panama and Bocas use the United States dollar as their official currency. Some businesses here only accept cash. During high season the ATM can run out of cash for a day, so it’s best to bring cash.
- Here at the lodge, we accept cash and credit.
- The electrical outlets are 110/120 volt, the same as what’s used in the U.S.A.
- The island is plastic bag free! This means you will need to bring your own bags for grocery shopping. Some places have a box you can carry your groceries home in, if you ask.
Items We Provide Free Of Charge
- Umbrellas: It rains in the rainforest.
We provide umbrellas for exploring the lodge. Many of our pathways are uncovered and we want you to be comfortable walking around our lodge regardless of the weather.
- Soap & Shampoo: Cause who wants to travel with liquids.
We provide hand soap, body wash, shampoos and conditioner for guests to use during their stay.
- Water Shoes: Three Words – Reef. Sea Urchins.
Bocas is surrounded by coral reef. All of the beaches and shorelines right in front of Nomad Tree Lodge have reef or petrified reef formations. If you want to enjoy the beaches around the lodge and explore the beaches around Bocas, it’s a good idea to bring water shoes to protect your feet against the rocky bottom and the occasional sea urchins.
- Reusable Water Bottle: Bottled water is evil.
Tourism in any country is extremely taxing on the environment. We are located in a rapidly-growing tourist destination of a developing country, so with this in mind, the islands struggle to keep trash to a minimum. We recommend bringing a refillable water bottle rather than purchasing bottled water. We are happy to refill your water bottle at our water refill station for 25 cents.
- Rain Gear: Sometimes it rains.
We are on a tropical island that is known for higher levels of rain, so we highly recommend bringing a poncho or light rain jacket. On most days, it will only rain in the morning or at night, but sometimes it may rain all day. The good news that is since rain is normal here, the islands carry on, so you can still have fun.
- Flashlights: Let there be light.
The main pathways in the lodge are lit, but it’s a big space and lighting every pathway perfectly isn’t really a viable option. Flashlights can come in handy at the lodge, or for exploring the beaches late at night. Also, while the power rarely goes out in Bocas, a flashlight can be useful in the rare chance power is out on the island.
- Bug Spray: Yes, please.
The lodge doesn’t have many biting insects due to our close proximity to the big surf on the island. Plus, all of our cabins and main lounge areas are fully screened in for your added comfort. While you’re safe at the lodge, on certain islands and locations of Bocas del Toro the “chitres” (also called “no-see-ums,” “sand flies,” etc.) can be a nuisance if you’re not prepared. These pesky bugs don’t always respond to basic bug repellent, so we do suggest bringing the strong bug repellent with lemongrass and eucalyptus. If that’s not an option, then something with a high percentage of “deet” will work.
- Reef Safe Sunscreen: You’ll need it.
Panama is 9 degrees from the equator. While you might not normally need sunscreen at home, you will burn here without it. Most sunscreen options are harmful for the reef. Please consider buying a reef safe option to help protect our sea life and vibrant coral reef.
- Beach Towel: You know, for beaches.
We provide towels for the shower and pool, but we kindly ask that you leave our towels at the lodge. Bring a beach towel to explore Bocas.
Caribe Shuttle – The Caribe Shuttle is one of the best ways to cross the Costa Rican border to Bocas Del Toro, Panamá:
- The shuttle has wi-fi and air-conditioning and will pick you up from the Denny’s restaurant right by the airport. ($78 each way, 8-10 hours)
- They may also pick you up from select hotels in San Jose City Center.
- Price includes: lunch at Banana Azul in Puerto Viejo, a guide to help you cross the border, and boat transportation to Bocas Town.
- The shuttle departs daily at 6:00 a.m. from the Denny’s restaurant, but get their 15 minutes early. Border fees are not included and cost $8 to exit Costa Rica.
- For more information or to book the shuttle in advance visit: caribeshuttle.com.
- Public bus options are available, but the taxi fare between the bus station and airport is ~$40, so the shuttle service may be a better option.