I am pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Heather, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Heather is from the United States, and submitted the following report about her trip to Bocas del Toro. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Spanish, English, Patois
Costs at Destination: Cheap/Reasonable (local transportation, dining, tours, events, and attractions)
Reasons to Visit Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is a place that grows on you over time. It's just over the border from Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. The border crossing is very easy. It's just a short drive and, if you pick a less busy day, the entire crossing takes only about 30 minutes.
When I first arrived from Costa Rica, I was a bit disappointed at the lack of vegetation, and the area (Isla Colon, the main island) seemed touristy and a bit run down. But after a couple of days, I came to appreciate its quirks and loved my time there!
I stayed at the Cala Luna hotel. It's a few blocks off the main street which was wonderful when it came to sleeping since it was quiet and away from the music. At first I was worried about walking around at night alone since those couple of blocks off the main street can be quieter. My hotel owners encouraged me to go out and insisted the area was safe.
I made some new friends at a local restaurant and found walking home at night (granted, always by 11 pm) was completely safe. Police patrol at night, which added to my feeling of safety. Also, I knew if I wanted a taxi back, it would only cost $1! Yup, seriously, one dollar.
Isla Colon, once you give it some time, offers both casual, low key party experiences and higher caliber, nicer dining, so you can find it all depending on your budget. A must see/do activity is to take the bus (roughly $2) from the park at the center of town to Playa Estrella, or Starfish Beach. It's amazing to see beautiful starfish in their natural habitat.
Another wonderful part of Bocas is that you can take a boat (they run as soon as there are enough people to take them) for about $8 to another island and see some amazing beaches. I even did an island tour (we saw about 4 of the local islands, stopped for lunch, had a little snorkeling) for $30!
The locals you'll meet are lovely. Granted, many of them want you to buy from them, and some of them are so nice you probably will, but you'll definitely feel safe.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)