Isla Bastimentos // Why everyone should stay on this beautiful island in Bocas del Toro, Panama

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When I originally started researching where to stay in Bocas del Toro while we were there, I focused my search on Bocas Town, figuring that it would be a good base for exploring the rest of the archipelago. However, when I read about Beverly’s Hill Guesthouse on Isla Bastimentos, I knew that it was where we had to stay. As it turned out, I couldn’t have made a better decision. During the five days that we were in Bocas, we absolutely fell in love with Isla Bastimentos and the town of Old Bank. Here’s why — and why you should stay on Isla Bastimentos instead of the main island.

To Get Away from the Crowds

Wizard Beach Hike Isla Bastimentos Bocas del Toro Panama

Bocas del Toro has always been a popular destination on the Central American backpacker trail, and has more recently come into the spotlight of more mainstream travel. This means that Bocas has gotten crowded – especially the main town. On Isla Bastimentos, though, you have the chance to dodge these crowds and get a slice of the beauty all to yourself.

To Experience Culture

At this point, tourism has almost completely overrun Bocas Town. What little time we did spend there, we could hardly wait to get to anywhere else. Old Bank, on the other hand, is a lovely little one-sidewalk town that really embodies the laid-back Caribbean spirit. Only a five minute boat ride away from the main island, Isla Bastimentos really does feel like another world. This is definitely enforced by the fact that the locals speak their own language called Guari-Guari – a mix between Spanish, Creole, and English that is so much fun to listen to!

To Eat Chocolate

Unless you’re staying on Isla Bastimentos, there probably isn’t much of a chance that you’ll get to visit Up in the Hill. This organic coffee and chocolate farm is an absolute must do in Bocas del Toro, though. We made the short 15 minute hike up the hill from our guesthouse to sample some of their iced mochas, truffles, and brownies and they were DELICIOUS. You can also take a tour of the farm or stay in one of their eco-lodges!

To Hike the Trails


Hiking Trail to Wizard Beach Isla Bastimentos Bocas del Toro Panama

Whether you’re walking along the beach or through a slightly muddy rainforest, the hiking on Bastimentos is definitely not to be missed. For an idea of what it’s like, just read my post about hiking from Old Bank all the way to Red Frog Beach!

To Have the Beach at your Fingertips

Addie Wizard Beach Isla Bastimentos Bocas del Toro Panama

Bocas Town is indeed a great base to explore the surrounding archipelago. But, what you may not realise is that half of the locations that tour companies like to take people to are on Isla Bastimentos! Both the stunningly beautiful Wizard Beach and the ever popular Red Frog Beach are only a short walk or boat ride away if you stay on Bastimentos. And really, what more could you ask for?

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Booking Flights: The first place I turn when I’m searching for flights is actually just Google Flights - it’s great to figure out what sort of routes are available. Then, I check Skyscanner and Kiwi for deals. I also love Kiwi for its destination: anywhere feature!

Transportation: I love Omio for figuring out the cheapest way to get from one place to another, and Trainline for booking train tickets within Europe.

Accommodations: I absolutely love for finding great hotel deals. After you stay a certain number of nights, you get Genius discounts! For hostels, Hostelworld is my go-to, and I use Airbnb occasionally as well (click here for $40 off your first booking!)

Travel Insurance: I knew that I shouldn’t travel without insurance for the longest time, but I really learned my lesson when I got an infected cut in Bali. Thank goodness I had travel insurance! I use and love World Nomads for their extremely comprehensive coverage.

Travel Insurance: I knew that I shouldn’t travel without insurance for the longest time, but I really learned my lesson when I got an infected cut in Bali. Thank goodness I had travel insurance! I use and love World Nomads for their extremely comprehensive coverage.

Tours: I always check Urban Adventures for great day tours of cities first–I’m obsessed with them! GetYourGuide and Viator are also great options. For multi-day tours, I highly recommend Intrepid.

Camera Gear: I use a Sony Alpha A6300 camera with an 18-105 mm lens and a 35 mm lens. My tripod is the MeFoto Backpacker Air and I loooooove it! I also use a DJI Mavic Air and a GoPro and which allow me to capture everything my regular camera can’t.

Addie Gray is a recent college grad and a passionate solo female traveler. Having traveled to more than 20 countries, she now shares her knowledge on budget travel, solo female travel, and travel photography.

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