> Island hopping across Isla Bastimentos, Isla Popa, Isla Solarte, Isla Cristóbal and the Islas Zapatillias in Panama <
It was by sheer luck that we stumbled upon this little archipelago off the coast of Panama. We were traveling to Panama and wanted to spend some time diving and visiting Indians, but the choice of where to go was not obvious or anyhow easy. Panama actually has many offshore island groups on the Caribbean and Atlantic sides, both in East and in West. Due to its proximity to mainland Panama and good transport possibilities (at least compared to some of the other islands), we chose to spend our one week in the Archipélago Bocoas del Toro in the north-western corner of the country, visiting almost all the larger islands in the island group.
What a positive surprise. We found here a truly tropical paradise with bounty islands, good diving, rainforests beaches, indigenous Indian villages, local fishers throwing their nets, and backdrop mountain scenery. On each of the islands, we saw in the backdrop the Talamanca mountain range rising from the ocean, sharply penetrating the waters a few kilometers away at mainland. What a place to laze around and absorb the local atmosphere. Very seductive, primitive and unforgettable. The typical homes are build using only wood, over wood stilts, with floors made with the bark of the jira tree, and the roofs made with the leaves of the guagara, a palm that grows in the swamps.
In the archipelago’s boundaries, there are several communities of the Ngöbe-Buglé indians. These communities are very poor, depending almost exclusively on and survival agriculture. There were not any organized tour into the communities, but we could pretty much just show up and act with care.
For more island hopping adventures in Central America, check our pages on the Corn Islands in Honduras and the Mesoamerican Reef of Belize. Additionally, in LATAM we criss-crossed all countries, and climbing the wild Volcanos of Guatemala.