Bocas del Toro, Panama for Digital Nomads

Bocas del Toro, Panama

A Digital Nomad Guide to Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is a small archipelago located on the Caribbean side of Panama. The archipelago sits between Almirante Bay and Chiriquí Lagoon and separates it from the open Caribbean Sea. The area is still underdeveloped and gives off a laid-back, beachy backpacker vibe. 

The town is home to Panama’s first Mission Blue Hope Spot, a project aimed to rehab and preserve its marine and jungle ecosystems. The area is home to sloths, monkeys, the woolly opossum, the Strawberry poison frog, geckos and lizards, the leatherback sea turtle (the largest and most endangered species of turtle in the world), toucans, caimans, seahorses, eagle rays, dolphins and much more.

For a long time, Bocas was the main spot for trading bananas and chocolate and it became mostly known to surfers looking for a world-class wave that wasn’t crowded. It was even ranked as the 11th best beach break in the world. Bocas is also a famous scuba diving spot due to all the coral reefs and dive schools available. You can find 95% of the Caribbean’s coral reefs around the islands.  

The islands themselves are covered in lush jungle, enchanting mangroves, rugged mountains, and of course, beautiful beaches. Tourism is definitely the number one form of income and because of this, the town is relatively safe for tourists. Similar to other countries in Central America, the most common type of crime is petty theft, but it would be wise to not walk around by yourself at night if you’ve been partying.

Island hopping is a way of life for most tourists visiting Bocas del Toro and water taxis are more common than ground taxis. There are loads of other activities and adventures to be had in Bocas del Toro including live music and dancing. You might find yourself spending days relaxing in the sun around a pool or on the beach.

The archipelago is home to Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Broken up into nine main islands, 52 cays, and hundreds of tiny islets, Bocas del Toro offers a lot in the way of natural beauty and outdoor exploration.

Nomad Friendly
Value for Money
Quality of Living

Living in Bocas del Toro Overview

restaurant Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant $7.00
beer-color Domestic Beer (1 pint draught) $1.50
cafe Cappuccino (regular) $3.15
bread Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb) $2.26
water Water (1.5 liter bottle) $1.50
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) $0.60
utilities Basic Utilities (Monthly) $40
internet Internet $79.82
gym Fitness Club (Monthly) $ – 
accomodation Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre $260

Emergency Numbers

Police: 110
Ambulance: 112
Firefighter: 113



Tap Water: Non Drinkable
Traffic: Dangerous
Hygiene: Medium

Air Quality


Hepatitis A
Tetanus Diphteria

Must Have

Sun Screen
Mosquito Repellent

Currency: Indonesian rupiah (Rp)

Exchange Rate IDR: Thu, 27 Jan.


Max Withdrawal: Rp 3,000,000

Withdrawal Fee: Rp 30,000 – Rp 50,000

Use of Credit Cards: Mostly Cash

Transport & Delivery


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Digital Nomad Personal Experience in Bocas del Toro

If you are a digital nomad who loves to surf or dive, Bocas del Toro could be your heaven on earth. The area has a definite backpacker vibe, especially in Bocas Town, on the main island called Isla Colón. If you’re looking to party and be involved in the backpacker scene then Bocas Town is ideal for you. If you are looking for a quieter vibe, then check out Isla Bastimentos.

Most hostels, air BnBs, and cafes offer Wi-Fi, so there are plenty of options to get work done. The hardest thing about being in Bocas is actually getting work done because of all the other things there is to do.

Work in Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is an upcoming paradise for digital nomads. Many hostels, hotels, and cafes offer Wi-Fi and there are a few co-working spaces popping up. Some of the best places to get work done are:

Best Places to Work in Bocas del Toro

Best Places to Live in Bocas del Toro

Best Neighbourhoods

While there are nine main islands in this chain, the top three islands that tourists stay in are Isla Colon, Isla Solarte, and Isla Bastimentos.

Bocas Town/Isla Colon

Bocas Town can be found on the biggest island, Isla Colon. This main town is a great option to stay in as a digital nomad because you can find all your amenities and it’s close to the airport. There are markets and grocery stores and ATMs. This is the most populated island with both locals and tourists so there is plenty to do when you need a break from work. The best and most popular places to stay are:

Isla Solarte

Just a short water taxi ride from Bocas Town is Isla Solarte. It used to be known as Nancy’s Cay when pirates, traders, and people were looking to settle in the area. The island was also home to the region’s first and primary hospital compound, built by the United Fruit Company, which you can visit on the west side of the island. 

Isla Solarte is very different from Isla Colon. On this island, things are still virtually untouched. There are only a select few accommodations and restaurants, leaving the rest of the island covered in jungle and mangroves that back right up to the pristine beaches. If you’re looking for something quieter and locally based, the best places to stay are:

Isla Bastimentos

Isla Bastimentos is popular with adventure seekers. This incredible island is home to Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos and the Ngöbe-Buglé village of Quebrada Sal (Salt Creek). Isla Bastimentos is one of the largest islands in Panama. Some of the best places to stay are:

Find an Apartment in Bocas del Toro

You can find some pretty epic Airbnb options and houses to rent throughout the islands. Many places offer long-term and short-term rentals. When looking for accommodation, don’t forget to take into account which island you’re looking at and what amenities might or might not be around. Useful websites include:

Cheap Places to Stay in Bocas del Toro

Hostels are a way of life in Bocas and there are plenty to stay in no matter what your style is. Each island has a different vibe and some are more tranquil than others. Take this into account when looking for accommodation, especially if you decide to stay for a longer time period.

Similar Digital Nomad Destinations

Bocas del Toro Visa

As you fly into the country and go through customs, most tourists are granted a 90-180 day tourist visa. If you intend to stay longer, you’ll need to find a way to extend your visa. Many people do this by crossing the border into a neighboring Central American country.

Culture and Food in Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro offers up a mix of several different cultures, perfectly blended for a unique and unforgettable paradise. Early in the 20th century, the area was best known for its banana plantations and people from all over the continent flooded the area to work in the banana industry. Now, the area is home to a mix of expats, travelers, indigenous, and other local communities. Among the native villages, Ngäbe village of the  Salt Creek, the Meri Ngobe village of Popa Dos, the towns on the mainland at Bonyic y Sieyic, and villages around Cristobal Island are still thriving. 


Bocas del Toro is not a highly praised destination for shopping, however, they do have some great little shops and food stands. Some shops to look out for are:

  • Artisans Bri Bri  – this shop sells a little bit of everything. From clothing to jewelry, hammocks, paintings etc. 
  • Mr Mentawai – this is the local surf shop if you’re in Bocas del Toro to surf and need anything surf-related then this is your shop.
  • Island Market Deli and Grocery – you can find most food and drink needs here.

Bocas del Toro Nightlife

Bocas has a great nightlife. There is always live music and dancing late into the night so if you’re looking to party there are plenty of options. Check out:

Things to do in Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is an adventurer’s paradise. There are plenty of things to do to experience the best of the archipelago. 

  • Scuba Diving

    Bocas del Toro is one of the number one dive spots in the world. People come from everywhere to get their diving certifications and it’s easy to see why. There are numerous reputable dive schools in the area and if you’re already certified, there are dozens of places to go diving. Well known spots include: The Wreck – This ship was intentionally sunk over ten years and has since become home to local marine life. The old ferry sits about 40 feet (12 meters) below the surface. Mangrove Point – This is a shallow reef that both beginners and experienced divers enjoy. There is plenty of marine life to photograph and you can even go night diving at this spot. Casa Blanca – This spot is one of the deepest in the area and is appealing to people with its Advanced Open Water certification. There are loads of coral reefs and several schools of fish swimming around. Casa Verde – Similar to Casa Blanca, Casa Verde is a shallow reef and great for beginners. You can see loads of marine life as well as coral reefs.

  • Surfing

    Bocas del Toro is also a world-famous surfing destination. There are various spots ranging in difficulty. Whether you are learning to surf or come as an expert, Bocas offers something for every type of surfer. The best time of year for waves is from December to April. However, the months of July and December are known to have the biggest waves. Surfing Beaches include: Paunch – This spot is known as a reef break. It makes getting into and out of the water a bit tricky but it is said to be the best wave in Bocas. When the surf is small the spot can be pretty user-friendly, however, when there is swell in the water and the waves are big, it is best left to the more experienced surfers. Dumpers – This is a fast wave and mostly surfed by locals. It is also over a reef and pretty inconsistent but when it’s working, it’s a good wave. Bluff – This is an expert-only wave because it breaks in super shallow water. Black Rock – This wave is perfect for beginners, however, you can only get to it by boat. Punta Carenero – Another super famous wave in Bocas Del Toro, this break is just for intermediate to expert surfers. The spot can get super crowded but the waves break left and right, letting the crowd spread out a bit.

  • Bat Caves

    Located on Isla Bastimentos, this cave system is home to thousands of bats. You can take a tour from Old Bank which includes a 30-minute boat ride through the mangroves where you can see some other animals like sloths. The hike in the cave requires sturdy shoes and you’ll be provided helmets with flashlights.

  • Take Spanish Classes

    There are loads of places where you can take Spanish classes, both in private or a group setting.

  • Island Hopping

    You can take different boat tours to all the islands that make up the Bocas del Toro archipelago.

  • Filthy Friday Island Crawl

    If you’re in the party mood, the Filthy Friday Island Crawl is for you. This all-day party has you going from island to island as you dance and drink the day away.

  • Sun Bathing

    Whether you are by a pool or on one of the many beautiful beaches, getting a nice golden bronze is easy to do.

  • Brewery

    If you’re into craft beer, then going to the Bocas Brewery is a must. Located in Isle Colon, the brewery offers Happy Hour from 4-6.

  • Cacao Plantation

    A fun place to visit and see how chocolate is made.

  • Fishing

    You can charter a boat trip and experience the thrill of fishing.

  • Starfish Beach

    You can take a bike ride to starfish beach if you’re staying in Bocas Town. There are hundreds of starfish you can see in the clear, shallow water.

  • Visit the Plastic Bottle Village

    This museum/hotel has a castle, jail, and several houses. It is made from over 40,000 plastic bottles.

Best Time to Visit Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro experiences humid, tropical weather all year round. However, January to May,  September, and October are the driest and sunniest months of the year.

Bocas del Toro for Families

Bocas is probably not the most ideal place for families, especially if you have young kids. There is a huge party scene, however, there are plenty of family-friendly activities such as zip-lining, swimming, snorkeling, and boating.

Living in Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro Transportation

The most common form of transportation once reaching the archipelago is by water taxi. They go from island to island. If you are on the main island, the yellow trucks are the taxis you want to go with. Riding bikes around is also a popular way to explore the islands as well.

Fitness and Health

People are generally happy and healthy here. There are plenty of outdoor activities to keep you in shape. You can go swimming, hiking, surfing, SUPping, etc, all of which will keep you in great shape. 

Fresh fish and other seafood are popular here and you can find vegan and vegetarian options too.

Bocas del Toro People

The people in Bocas are a mix of expats, locals, indigenous and travelers from all over the world. Most people you come across are super friendly and full of information. The islands all have the quintessential laid-back, beach vibe.

Bocas del Toro Insurance and Medical Care

There are no insurance or major hospitals around Bocas del Toro. There are some clinics around but it’s a good idea to be traveling with travelers insurance.

Make sure you are fully covered by reading our full Digital Nomad Travel Insurance guide.

Jobs in Bocas del Toro

Most jobs you’ll find in Bocas del Toro will be in the hospitality industry. You can find work in hostels and restaurants and sometimes as tour guides. Many jobs also offer work for a trade where you may be able to work in exchange for rent or food.

Check out our Digital Nomads Jobs Postings to find the best jobs available for Digital Nomads.

Bocas del Toro Overall Budget: $1075 per Month
Nomad Friendly
Value for Money
Quality of Living

Cost of Living Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro has a low expected cost of living. For approximately a month you can budge anywhere from $1500-$2000.

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