In Bocas del Toro, there are a few paved roads and even fewer cars. At the same time, there are thriving communities on the main Isla Colon and out on several other surrounding islands. From daily tasks including the job commute and household shopping to surfing and excursions, the regular way around the Bocas del Toro archipelago is best done by boat.
Along the waterfront in Bocas Town on Isla Colon there are many water taxi options. Jampan Tours is one that runs regular routes back and forth to Isla Bastimentos, as well as other places on demand. The Red Frog Resort also can help arrange water travel around the islands as you need it.
Top 6 Reasons to Appreciate The Panga**Panga= Bocas del Toro term for the typically fiberglass motorboat; most common transportation choice of locals and used for water taxi. Parks on a beach or at a dock.
- Sightseeing every minute. Bocas del Toro is no place to have your nose in a smartphone (or newspaper?). Keep your eyes open and on the wonderland around you and you’ll spot starfish in the water underneath your ride or even dolphins playing alongside.
- Schedule? It’s a fluid term. Account for the laid-back Island Time Zone that you enter in Bocas del Toro. Also, some water taxis have covered tops, but weather can still be an influence in water conditions. Embrace the easy going vibes as an unexpected opportunity.
- Anyway you like it. Go from Isla Bastimentos to uninhabited Zapatilla Cay for postcard-worthy snorkeling, out to a local favorite surf spot, a restaurant on another island, or anywhere else in the region for just a few dollars. No traffic, no honking, just open air and your adventure ahead.
- It’s Local. Panga is the transportation of choice for most locals, including water taxi service. These small boats might serve for groceries one day and be your coach to paradise the next. They are crucial to local culture and economy.
- Early to Bed. Sunset around here is about
7pm year-round, so most of the regularly scheduled services will end with the last ride at 6:30. Arrange later services as necessary with reputable companies that have well-lit boats. Or, pick up drinks in the afternoon and take them back to party at your villa poolside at night.
- Language Lessons. Water Taxi drivers will be bi-lingual in English and Spanish. Practice your phrases and learn some new ones on the ride!
Have you taken a water taxi? What would you add to the list? What favorite memories do you have from your ride or the driver?