Beach time at Bocas
Trip Start Dec 12, 2010
156Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Whilst staying in San Jose we met up with a great American girl who is working in Costa Rica and needed to do a visa run, so was also going to Bocas del Torro. Autumn had already been once before, so it was good having her alongside us.
The bus left at 6am, so early taxi to the bus station climbed onto the bus and tried to get some shut eye. It took about 5 hours to get to Sixaola – which is the Costa Rican side of the border crossing. This was a little different to the others, as the bus stops the Costa Rican side and we have to walk over a bridge to get to the Panama side. But not just any bridge – and old, rusting, creaking, “how is it still staying up at all?” type of bridge. It only lets 1 car at a time cross over, and whilst we're walking the cars and lorries have to wait either side..
Then onto a shuttle van, rammed full with other travellers (a little too full, but at least it was only an hour) which then took us to Almirante. From there it was a water taxi to Bocas Town and another water taxi to Red Frog Beach on Isla Bastimentos, where we were staying. We were contemplating where to stay as there are a few islands and areas to choose from, but really happy with where we chose. As the boat was coming into the dock, it looked awesome! The water was wonderfully smooth and there was green luscious forests/jungles all around. The boat stopped at a dock, surrounded by fancy sail boats, we climbed off and were shown to the park entrance gate. You have to pay a small fee to come here, but if you are staying the night the fee is waived.
Then it was a little walk to the hostel. Well, it felt more like a resort that we were heading to. And it didn't disappoint. The restaurant and common area was superb. It had a pool table, ping-pong table, great comfy sofas to laze about on and loads of games to play.
The dorm was equally as nice and clean. What was great to learn is that the beach is only a 5 minute walk through the jungle. It was a little overcast today, but that didn't stop us. Once we'd put the bags down and unpacked a little, the 3 of us set of to find Red Frog Beach. The path there was cool, really felt like in the jungle and 5 minutes later we were on the sand looking out onto the Caribbean sea
That evening we had a great meal – there was a Thai Curry special on, plus a movie night. Also happy hour at the bar... Which meant cheap beers. So enjoyed a great night playing games – probably the highest I've ever seen Jenga actually go – and enjoying new friends company.
Friday 9th September:
Woke up to glorious sunshine! Just what we needed to spend the day on the beach. And that's what we did. After breakfast Si and I took a stroll down to the beach and relaxed there for the morning, enjoying the gorgeous water every now and then.
Met up with Gregor and Autumn again at lunch time and decided to do a little afternoon hike to try and find the other beaches near by. Well, the first one was a really small walk, but the beach was great. There was no-one else on it, and it was so perfect. The only thing that littered this beach was the occasional old fallen down tree – which kinda added to the charm. This was turtle beach and we'd seen a map to get to another one, just a short trek through the jungle. But the path wasn't that clear, and we didn't know where we were going, so we headed back to turtle beach, dumped our stuff and ran into the ocean to cool off
Then as the sun was starting to go down, on the way back, of course we had to stop off at the beach bar for a sundowner – the Rum Punch was on special offer after all.
Back to the hostel and I actually beat Si at a game of Ping Pong - 1st time ever, so don't forget it! (I hope he wasn't letting me win, but he normally doesn't do that). Got chatting with one of the English guys, John, whose from Blackpool and been travelling to many places already.
Saturday 10th September:
Today we had planned to get a boat taxi to the Bastimentos town and then check out a beach near there, but woke up to rain... So no point in that! Autumn unfortunately had to leave to go to the other Bocas Island, so said a sad goodbye and really hope we get to see her again sometime in the future.
I needed to sort out bus tickets for our next journey, but unfortunately it couldn't be done where we are staying, so I jumped on a water taxi and headed to Bocas Town to grab some bites to eat plus sort the tickets out leaving the boys back at the hostel
The afternoon cleared up, so John, Si and I headed back down to Red Frog Beach and it eventually became quite a great day. Swam about for a few hours, had another Rum Punch in the bar and then chilled out evening in the hostel, swapping stories with friends.
Sunday 11th September:
Another rainy day, so put off the beach excursion again. It didn't matter so much as this was a great place for lazing about doing nothing
Monday 12th September:
Finally proper Sunshine! So it was exploration day. After deciding that John has got the gift of the gab, we left it up to him to haggle for a cheap boat taxi. Well, wont be doing that again – he agreed the first price! Oh well, it made us all chuckle!
The boat ride there was awesome in itself. Seeing how beautiful these little islands scattered around really are. We arrived at the small Bastimentos town and it really did feel like a little Caribbean village. All the wooden houses are painted in such crazy colours looking out over the water with the jungle tucked neatly behind.
One of the main reasons for coming here was we'd heard about this organic chocolate shop up the hill from the town. Funnily enough its called The Shop Up The Hill, and Autumn came here last time – she said the brownies were incredible. That was enough to persuade me to go and check it out
After a sweaty climb up, we made it to the shop. A cute little place run by a family – the lady, Janet, is from Aberdeen... This was certainly different. They grow their own chocolate, make truffles and brownies. Do amazing fruit juices and also beauty products made from natural ingredients. Ordered a brownie and some truffles... and they didn't disappoint. John also had a yummy fruit juice, made from Soursop fruit and Si had a organic coffee. Very tasty nice!
A couple of other guys, one of which is studying in Bristol Uni (small world again), turned up and were on a mission to find some red frogs. Well yes, we were staying at Red Frog Beach, but hadn't actually seen any. Janet said there were loads about, and showed us which plants we had to look in. So off the boys set, rummaging around in her garden trying to find these frogs. I was standing on the deck and happened to look down at the closet plant to me... And there it was. This tiny little red frog. Don't think the men were happy that a girl found it first and so easily, but hey
After we'd all recharged the batteries, we then set off on the next exploration to try and find Wizzard beach. It was again another trek through the jungle, a little tricky with the mud at times, but eventually we arrived at another gorgeous beach. The waves here were much more powerful than Red Frog, even saw a few surfers out catching some waves. It was cool though, another untouched paradise... No hotels, no 7/11s, no nothing. Actually... There wasn't even anywhere to buy water! We'd left our valuables at the shop with Janet, because we thought we'd be going back that way. But actually, once we arrived at Wizzard beach – we noticed it wasn't that far to Red Frog. And of course, trying to save pennies and not get a water taxi back – we decided to walk back. Si and I popped back up to get the valuables and on the way saw another cool frog. Just as small, but this time it was yellow with black spots.
Got back to the beach, had a refreshing swim to cool down, then took a slow walk back to our place
It was another movie night at the hostel again, so stayed there enjoying a chilled out evening just as a thunder storm started. Good thing it wasn't whilst we were trekking all day!
Tuesday 13th September:
Time to say goodbye to this very special place! We both didn't want to leave, could've happily stayed here for another week or so... But there is more world to go and explore! Also had to say bye to John.. Gonna miss this crazy chappy! But promised to meet up when we're back in England!!!
Caught the boat over to Bocus town, collected our bus tickets, had some lunch and then walked around the town for a bit. Its much more of a party town this one. So if lazing around on the beach all day is your idea of hell, this place will have party after party each night! Definitely a good night out here! Soon time to catch our last water taxi back to the main land, shared a taxi to the bus station with a couple of guys who we met before. Another Bristol Uni chap (Its getting ridiculous how many Bristolians we've actually met on the trip!) Then at 7pm the bus to Panama City left.