The Best Excursions That Show A Different Side Of Panama

If you’re heading to Panama, Bocas del Toro is most likely on your itinerary as a relaxing beach getaway. Founder and president of Give & Surf organization, Neil Christiansen, started a local school for indigenous children.

Facebook Neil Christiansen
Facebook/Neil Christiansen

Not to mention, Neil Christiansen is a local at the popular island destination. Besides chilling on the beach, Bocas del Toro features incredible outdoor activities that will take your island experience to the level of unforgettable. Of course, when we wanted to narrow it down to the best excursions, Neil was the perfect person to give the finest recommendations.

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1. Bahia Honda Bat Cave Tour

Duration: 3-5 hours. Tour: $20. Lunch: $5.

For me doing excursions/activities is all about experiencing something exciting, off the beaten tourist path. The bat cave tour is this and much more. It can last up to 4 hours depending on how ambitious you are in finding the depths of the cave, and if you’re in the mood for wildlife spotting, during the one-hour paddle up the creek you can see sloths, monkeys, caimans, snakes, and more. Stop by and visit the school when you are in Bahia Honda. You can also arrange lunch made by local mothers at the local restaurants. Contact Give & Surf and we can help you make arrangements.

Flickr Chico Ferreira Bahia Bat Cave Panama
Flickr/Chico Ferreira

2. Rent a quad and explore Isla Colon

Half-day: $75, all-day: $100

Head over to Flying Pirates and rent an ATV quad for the day to explore the lesser known beaches and areas of Isla Colon. Prepare yourself for mud and adventure. At the Y-intersection heading out of town, you have the option to explore the island’s beaches to the right (don’t miss La Piscina at the end of the trail) along the east or to take the left and cut through the island and end at Boca del Drago. Start your day early and do both! Other must stops are Paki Point, Starfish Beach, Bluff Beach, and end the day at Bocas Brewery.

Facebook Bocas Brewery S.A.
Facebook/Bocas Brewery S.A.

3. Hike from Old Bank up in the Hill – Wizard Beach – Red Frog Beach

All-day. Free outside of transport.

Hire a water taxi to Old Bank from town and make your first stop at Up In The Hill, a beautiful little shop at the highest point in Old Bank selling locally made chocolate, coconut oil, and crafts. After a snack here, head down to Wizard Beach where you will find an empty mile-long beach. From Wizard Beach, head to the south end and follow the trail inland where you will eventually link up with Red Frog Beach. Here you will find multiple restaurants and ocean activities, so relax with some food and drinks and afterwards head down to the dock at Red Frog to catch a $5 taxi ride back to town.

Facebook Javi Upinthehill
Facebook/Javi Upinthehill

4. Zapatilla Islands

All-day. $30-45, depending on tour provider.

You cannot walk through town without being hawked by water taxi drivers about the opportunity to go to Zapatilla Islands; there is a reason behind this, it’s worth it! The Zapatilla Islands are part of the Bastimentos National Marine Park and two completely undeveloped, picturesque islands in the middle of the ocean. You can walk around the island when you arrive and your boat driver will provide you with snorkel masks to stop at a few reefs on the way out there. Make sure you go when the weather is good and seas are not rough!

Flickr Michael (a.k.a. moik) McCullough Zapailla Island
Flickr/Michael (a.k.a. moik) McCullough

5. Rent a bike and go to Bluff Beach

All-day: $10

Looking to do #2 and save some money? Rent a bike for the day and explore Isla Colon at leisure. You can rent a bike for $10/day at any bike rental spot in town. Places to stop along the way heading out of town are Bocas Brewery, Paki Point, and Bluff Beach. Good food can be had at all three so choose when to eat and drink during your trip. You can also rent surfboards at Paki Point.

Flickr Ray_from_LA Isla Colon Panama

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Article written by NEIL CHRISTIANSEN, Founder of Give & Surf (Bocas del Toro, Panama.)

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