Isla Bastimentos is the largest of the islands in the Archipielago De Bocas Del Toro.  Surrounded by the Caribbean Ocean, Bastimentos, with it's distinctive Jamaican feel has no roads, so no cars.

The people here are characters. Of West Indian descent, they are warm & friendly with that relaxed Caribbean vibe.  Loud music, laughter & Gali-Gali (a mix of Spanish-English Creole that is native to the island) can be heard as you walk around the town of Old Bank.  They love a good time and celebrations are taken seriously!  Be prepared to be invited in for a drink & something to eat.

Walk through lush tropical jungles, where sloths lazily hang from trees, to reach amazing beaches. The brightly coloured but poisonous, Red Dart frog is also found here.  Hiding amongst leaf litter and inside the well of Bromeliads, it's toxic skin is attributed to a diet rich in formicine ants.

The Parque Nacional Marino was Panama's first marine park.  Established in 1988, it protects various areas of the Bocas Del Toro archipelago including parts of Bastimentos & the Cayos Zapatillas.

Diving or snorkelling the coral reefs and mangroves is an unforgettable experience. A multitude of starfish of various shapes & colours are just below the surface of the clear blue waters.  Soft corals and sponges fill the calm, warm waters known as the Galapagos of the Caribbean.

With 4 of the world's 8 species of sea turtles; loggerheads from April to September, leatherbacks in May & June, hawksbills in July & green turtles in July & August coming ashore to nest, it truly is paradise.

The Ngobe-Bugle village is at the end of a long canal cut through the mangrove forest. Living in wooden, thatched roofed huts with no electricity or running water, the indigenious villagers still practice subsistence farming.Travelling to nearby islands is by hand-crafted canoes.  There is a school and a handicrafts store where hand made colourful woven bags & jewellery can be bought.

Surf???  Basti has it all;  reef breaks, beach breaks, incredible waves!

That dream of paradise is real and it's here on Bastimentos where life is ever rushed. So, grab your swimsuit & toothbrush, leave your 'hurries' at home and step into island life!

Panamanians always find a reason to celebrate something.

 

Carnival

Every year on the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday, Panama’s carnival takes place. Though sometimes the party starts a little earlier on Friday and always ends on Tuesday. Panamanians refer to carnival as “los carnavales”, and the entire country partakes in the party. All though it is not an official holiday, the country basically shuts down and whole communities join in the celebration.

 

 

Feria Internacional del Mar (International Festival of the Sea) 14-20 September

This annual week-long day festival celebrates the area’s natural resources and marine attractions, which is quite appropriate since Bocas Del Toro’s location involves both the coast and rain forest. Held in September, more than 20,000 people come to celebrate all things Bocas del Toro: beach, food, music and fun. It focuses on the traditions and culture of the province, and involves folkloric presentations and local handicrafts.

 

Independence Days

Panama has three!  The main celebrations throughout the country take place on the 3-4 November with plenty of fireworks and parades, and a great atmosphere.

3 November

Celebrates Panama’s separation from Colombia.

4 November

Is Flag Day

28 November

Honours independence from Spain,

 

 

Dia de Bastimentos (Bastimentos Day) 23 November

A huge celebration beginning at midnight on the 22nd with fireworks and drumming demonstrations that continue throughout the day and night of the 23rd.

 

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve celebrations are a mixture of traditions here in Bocas del Toro with island parties where reggae music is blaring or it could be the Tipico music you find yourself dancing to in the streets.  At exactly 12 midnight, everybody takes part in  the annual fireworks display and friendly “war” of fireworks that the Chinese community puts on.