Bastimentos is an island in Bocas del Toro province in the Caribbean West of Panama. For everyone who feels a bit overwhelmed by the party scene in Bocas town this is the place to go. In Bastimentos you are going to find the relaxing atmosphere the loud taxis and bars on the main island can't offer.
You can take a taxi boat for $3 USD (one way) from the Bocas Town of Isla Colon, if you pay in the office next to police station. The boats depart roughly every half an hour, possibly more often.
Alternatively you can take a taxi boat which depart immediately and it costs $5 per person. This is your only option in early morning, for instance if you just arrived by night bus.
The only village on the island is called Old Bank, consisting of a walking path lined with rustic buildings. There are no cars or roads on this island, so walking and water taxis are the ways of transportation.
There are several beautiful beaches in walking distance from town. One is "Wizard Beach" (1.2 km or 20 minutes from town) and the other one is "Red Frog Beach" (~1 hour walking from Old Bank town). The path is extremely difficult to negotiate in the Rain, a lot of mud, multiple time by two for wet weather.
Wizard Beach (Playa Primera)
There is a strong (reportedly deadly) undertow on this beach. Only experienced swimmers should enter the water here. The beach is long and fairly remote. The difficulty involved in getting to this beach lends itself to a smaller number of visitors. There are no services on or near this beach. Sometimes there are good waves for surfing. There is no lifeguard and medical services are far away.
Red Frog Beach
There are two bars and a hostel at the far end of this beach. Drinks are more expensive than in town but still cheaper than US or European prices. The hostal serves food right on the beach and is open until 5PM. A truck runs back and forth from the beach near the hostel to the marina on the other side of the island. The truck is free. Water taxis are usually waiting to take you to Bastimentos for $5 per person. (possibly negotiable but we did not try)
There is a PADI dive centre on Bastimentos called Scuba 6 ECO Diving (PADI Store no S 22692) which has extremely good instruction and very reasonable prices for Open Water/Advanced certifications, Discover Scuba Diving experience and fun dives.
Walk up to the Coffee Shop Up in the Hill and have a great coffee/tea/etc. while reading/changing a book and enjoying the calm environment and the nice views.
Definently recommend this. get some brownies and truffles. theres a book store here to. wonderful family runs it.
There are several restaurants in Old Bank. Roots and Alvin are safe bets for good food at a very reasonable price.
Not so much for going out here. It s more to calm down from Bocas del Toro experiences. Also, Old Bank has a different vibe than gringofied Bocas town - more real but not always in a nice way. Poverty is much more apparent, and after dark the settlement can feel a bit intimidating at times.
It's important to be cautious of the rip tides on Red Frog Beach and Wizard Beach which has caused many to lose their lives by not being aware of the dangers.
Taxi boat to Bocas town.