Bocas del Toro, Panama may be the most overrated city in all of Central America. Ranked as the number one attraction in all of Central America in the Lonely Planet guide (if I remember correctly) – the city just doesn’t come close to living up to the hype. I won’t hate too much because I did love my time here. The problem is hindsight is 20/20. You can read the full review below.
Positives of Bocas
Nightlife: The nightlife in Bocas del Toro, Panama is pretty good almost every night of the week, even in low season. In high season, I’d imagine the place to be a perfect spot for pulling backpacker chicks. Standard western style game works, but the only issue is the male backpacker thirst. If you hesitate, someone else will approach her.
Beach Life: Bocas is a chain of islands. As such, the place is pretty laid back. There are numerous beaches all through the archipelago. Some are good for surfing and some are better for relaxing. Enjoy the beaches during the day before resting up for the nightlife in the evening.
Negatives of Bocas
Lodging: The issue is that most of the hostels in Bocas are complete shitholes. They are cramped, crappy, and a number of them are infested with bed bugs. If the hostel was worth a shit, it was expensive as hell. Airbnb.com didn’t offer much in terms of help, either.
Annoying Locals: I’m not sure I met more annoying street hustlers anywhere else in Central America. These dudes were grimy. While I found the town safe, the local men will try to intimidate some travelers. I never had an issue, but a friend was pretty nervous after he got threatened one night.
Where To Stay
Lodging is absolutely shit in Bocas, but I found a couple of decent options. If you are a budget traveler, I highly recommend Hotel Las Brisas. The place is in a perfect location with a swim off dock, as it’s right on the water. It’s cheap and honestly, quite shitty. However, I didn’t have any issue with the spot when I stayed there.
My friends and I booked a triple with air conditioning (a big plus on the island) and a private bath for $12 per person. While not that cheap, this was cheaper than a 12- bed hostel dorm in any decent hostel in Bocas. While I struck out in bringing a girl back here, the place is “chica-friendly” for sure. I saw a couple German guy slaying busted backpackers while I stayed here (they were part of the “always be fucking” crowd, but eventually bagged a couple cuties).
If Brisas is a bit too shitty for your tastes then check out Casa Verde on the main island as well. I saw the place and it’s quite nice, but I doubt it’s “chica-friendly” for the most part. If you really want to party in Bocas, you’ll want to stay at Aqua Lounge. The hostel is attached to the bar. While it sucks for sleeping, you can bang chicks in the rooms or dorms on any given night.
I never found the perfect place to run a day game in Bocas del Toro, Panama. I met a few chicks during the day here, but nothing ever came of it. You can meet chicks pretty easily during tours to the beach during the day. A Standard backpacker day game works here. No need to go for a number of anything. They probably won’t have a phone and if she is horny, she’ll be out later that night.
Healthy girls go to Bocas Blended often. Feel free to chat with any cuties you see grabbing a smoothie. On the main drag in Bocas Town, you’ll find a number of chicks walking around during the day as well. However, they may not be into your approach. The common street hustlers that compromise the local population will have already hit on and hustled them enough while walking the main street.
The nightlife is pretty good in Bocas del Toro, Panama – and I was there in low, low season. The great thing about partying in Bocas is everything is close. You can visit all the bars on any given night while walking around, or take a $1 water taxi.
Aqua Longue: On a Wednesday and a Saturday, Aqua Lounge is the only place to go. The bar/club is a $1 water taxi ride from the main island. Hop in a taxi and go party the night away. This is the only bar to be at in Bocas on these nights. It was tame during my night there as it was low season, but tales of high season at Aqua Lounge are crazy. If you’re in Bocas, I wouldn’t miss it.
The Bookstore: The Bookstore or Bocas Bookstore or La Libreria – is often the best place to go before the bigger bars really get going. The place often features live music and can be fun. It’s located at the end of the main street in Bocas Town and is a half indoor, half outdoor type of place.
Iguana’s: Iguana’s is the main attraction on nights where the crowd doesn’t go to Aqua Lounge. The place features a dance floor, swim off docks, and good vibes. Talking to girls by the bar, on the elevated deck, and outside near the swimming areas worked well. I met the only chick I could pull a make out from in Bocas at the bar here.
The Wreck Deck: The Wreck Deck, also known as Barco Hundido is the late night, after hours spot in Bocas. The set up of this bar is incredible and a players dream. However, in low season the place sucks ass. In high season, I doubt there is any player who couldn’t pull a make out here late night.
Non-existent, as most backpacker chicks don’t date online and the island local girls aren’t exactly hot. Give Tinder a few swipes if you’re so inclined, just don’t expect much.
Bocas del Toro Overall Impression
The only beach and party spot in Panama – Bocas del Toro is incredibly popular in the backpacking scene. I stayed four days and four nights here. I loved it, but I didn’t get laid. Bocas is a chain of islands, but if you want to get laid then I suggest you stay on the main island, Bocas Town. The town is where a majority of the nightlife in Bocas happens. If beach life combined with partying is what you’re looking for, Bocas is by far the best spot in Panama.
If you enjoyed this review of Bocas del Toro, Panama – then you’ll love my book, A Bachelor’s Guide to Central America. Learn more here.