Bocas del Toro - General Info

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Description:

Bocas del Toro is on the northeastern coast of Panama, about 20nm from the border with Costa Rica, outside the hurricane zone. This is a beautiful, un-crowded cruising ground, with many unspoilt anchorages and three good marinas to choose from.

Entrance Notes and Cautions:

The old commercial channel is located between Isla Bastimentos and Isla Carenero. Charts show buoys marking this channel. However, this channel is no longer used by commercial traffic and there are NO BUOYS marking this channel now. It remains navigable and is still the primary channel used by non-commercial traffic.

The new commercial channel is now located northwest of the above channel, between the mainland and Bocas del Drago. It is well marked and well lit.

Bocas del Toro has been suffering a drought for a number of months (November 2022) and the water supply is restricted, even being turned off at various times during the day and night.

Cruiser Highlights:

The nature, lively cruiser community and friendly people attribute greatly to Bocas del Toro being a great place to visit.

See this Noonsite report for some updates from Cruisers for Bocas del Toro.

Position:

09°20.22’N, 82°14.36’W (off the town)

Last updated:  December 2022


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Next Section: Profile: Clearance

Bocas del Toro was last updated 4 months ago.

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  1. July 19, 2018 at 1:55 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    When bringing in U.S.10 lbs propane tank for a refill yesterday in Bocas del Toro, were told was no longer Chow Kai leave it at Wen-Li hardware store on the main street, close to water taxi terminal. You will see a big yellow sign SUR Wen-Li. Seems to be every Wednesday drop/return. Thank you

  2. September 25, 2017 at 9:38 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Reported by Caribbean Safety and Security Net (CSSN):
    DATE: 2017-08-29 01:00
    Country Name: Panama
    Location Detail: Bocas del Toro
    EVENT: Theft
    HAND: 2
    Stolen Items: Caribe dinghy/ 15HP outboard
    SECURED: Unknown
    DETAILS: Dinghy/outboard stolen overnight, no further details available

  3. June 2, 2017 at 12:56 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Bocas del Toro, Panama

    Before arriving at this amazing place, make sure you contact the IGY Marina, Red Frog Beach Marina. It is small, 85 berths now, due to double by end of September this year. The other reason is to get their recommended waypoints for entering the area.

    Despite what’s shown on the charts, there are no longer ANY navigation buoys. They were removed when this ceased being a commercial channel. The entry is simple and you could just go by the electronic charts if wished, just mind your depths around the mangroves.

    When you reach the Marina the staff are there to help. Note they monitor Channel 68, not 16. The present manager is DeeCee, a charming American from Texas.

    The local officials will come to the boat, inspect it and do any amount of paperwork, all the skipper does is a date, sign and pay around $340 for a years entry and a cruising permit ($185 is cruising permit for 1 year, the rest was split up between department). You will get a receipt. If you don’t have the cash DeeCee will lend it to you from his own pocket!

    Our tourist visas were valid for 6 months, renewable every 6 months for $5.

    The water is well water and excellent and there is 220 volt on the docks, American plugs needed. The island has a large solar power plant with 3 generators backing up at night. If you play your cards right you may bargain a dock fee discount, see DeeCee, who lives on his boat on the main walkway.

    Diesel and petrol are both available on the fuel dock at $1.10 a litre for diesel and $.92 a litre for petrol.

    The nearest town is Bocas del Toro and it is a 15-minute high-speed boat ride away. The Marina has 2 free trips a day to town and back. The shopping for provisions is good and no security problems. There is one bank with 2 ATMs when they work.

    The island is a resort area with villas and condos for rent or purchase. It is a stunning island, Bastementos, meaning land of plenty as named by Mr Columbus apparently. There are several restaurants and bars on the privately owned island, with free transport on request. All are a reasonable cost too. Credit cards are welcome.

    There are several miles of golden beaches, excellent surfing and miles of hiking when the unpaved roads end. Plenty of nature to look for too.

    The sail to Colon takes about 20 hours. I can recommend this Marina to anyone in the area as not to be missed!

    Hugh Pilsworth
    SY BlueFlyer

  4. March 7, 2016 at 10:44 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Local gas station on Carenaro has both gas and diesel, but you will have to jerry jug it. There are lots of local tiendas that have gas – straight or mixed – but no diesel. If you need a large amount of diesel, it is worth the trip to Almirante where it is much cheaper.

  5. March 7, 2016 at 10:40 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Local gas (Tropigas & Panagas) is a variable mixture of propane and butane but works well for most purposes. Be advised that each has its own unique regulator and neither is compatible with US (or other country’s) tanks. You CAN get US style tanks filled by dropping them off at Chow Kai (a local hardware store). It takes about a week and costs ~$30 (as opposed to $6.40 for the local 30# tank). Some folks have successfully transferred gas from local tanks to US-style tanks with a pigtail type connection.

  6. March 4, 2016 at 2:08 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Unfortunately, the ferry service to Cartagena is no longer.
    I live in Bocas and would be happy to answer questions / provide assistance to anyone in need.

  7. November 11, 2014 at 2:19 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    October 2014: New Ferry Service Begins Operating Between Panama, Cartagena, and Bocas del Toro. Full details at:
    http://media.wix.com/ugd/707aaa_1e18aa1f23084dcf90032d8fdbbcd651.pdf
    Phone: (507)380 0909 in Panama.