When traveling to Panama, it’s highly likely a leg of your journey will be in the bewitching Bocas Del Toro province.
Deciding where to stay in Bocas Del Toro can be a daunting task. This archipelago consists of nine islands, each with their own unique character.
If you’re trying to decide is Bocas Del Toro worth visiting? YES! 100% yes! If you need some inspiration, check out my 20 Pictures to Inspire You to Visit Bocas Del Toro first.
Since these islands are so far away from Panama City (a whopping 10 hour drive), that can be a deterrent to some folks. Trust me, when deciding how to get to Bocas Del Toro, just fly! A flight is $117 RT via Air Panama and you can book with my favorite flight platform; Kiwi!
I absolutely fell in love with these islands and in big part because of The Firefly hotel on Isla Bastimentos.
If you’re curious how much time to spend here, you can read my itinerary for 2 or 3 Weeks in Panama.
Isla Bastimentos is a 5-10 minute boat ride from the main island of Isla Colon and Bocas Town which is where the Bocas airport, is and where you will arrive from Panama City.
I would advise skipping Bocas Town entirely and moving on to the better parts of these islands.
You can read more about why I recommend such in this article.
I chose The Firefly Hotel for my stay and am in no way being paid for this review or am in any partnership with them.
I am reviewing them simply because it was the best accommodation experience I’ve ever had and want others to have the same.
I feel confident in saying The Firefly Hotel may be one of the best hotels in Bocas Del Toro and you should book your stay sooner rather than later because this hidden gem won’t stay hidden for long.
The Firefly is a boutique hotel nestled in the palms on the beach of Isla Bastimentos and only has 5 rooms, 2 of which are bungalows. For my stay, I chose the Water Bungalow.
Upon arrival, you’ll notice the hotel’s architecture seems to interact with the nature surrounding it, rather than imposing upon it.
A sublime color palette of teal and white with natural woods and accents of coral, along with beautiful canopies over the beds make you forget you’re in Panama… rather than Bali.
I was the first guest of the season and was absolutely giddy to notice an adorable welcome sign with my name.
I was met by Kevin and we chatted over a welcome cocktail before he helped me carry my bags to my room and gave me some history of the property and the owners.
I got acquainted with my room, lounged on the balcony in my private hammock, and watched the birds in the trees for a bit while I read the book that is provided in the room. The book gives more details about the property, the restaurant and what to see and do in the area.
I loved the book because it isn’t written with stuffy language and is brutally honest about the area, as well as the local tour companies—who you should trust and who you shouldn’t.
In the bungalow is a Balinese style outdoor shower that does have hot water. (Which is sometimes hard to come by in Panama). Locally made natural soap is provided, as well as the best bug repellent I’ve ever used. As a bonus: It’s all natural. Consisting only of Coconut oil, Lemongrass and Citronella. The insect repellent is also available for purchase if you’d like to take some home as well.
The Firefly is very environmentally conscious so you won’t find plastic bottles here, but you will be provided a glass and carafe with UV filtered water for your room. Along with this, the fresh water for your shower is rain water so do try to keep this in mind and be conscientious when showering.
There is no AC in the room but it is completely unnecessary with the ocean breeze and the fan that is above the bed. I never felt hot or uncomfortable in my room.
Below the bungalows is an exquisite infinity pool overlooking the ocean and lush jungle. Even though it had rained most of the time I was there and the water was a bit chilly, I found it very pleasant and wished I could’ve stayed longer just to have more time to lounge there.
Not only is The Firefly an impressive hotel, it also boasts a heavenly restaurant that is open to the public. So even though I was the only guest, I was able to meet some lovely locals and fellow tourists over dinner.
One of the owners is a chef and the small, but perfectly curated menu is all her creations, and most can be customized to be vegan or vegetarian.
The cuisine is Thai / Caribbean / Spanish tapas fusion and most are small plates priced between $7 – $12 each so come hungry and ready to try as many items as you can because everything is divine!
Dinner and tour costs will be cumulated and charged to your room, and you will need to pay in cash upon departure but breakfast is included in your room rate and this breakfast… Oh this breakfast…This isn’t some Hilton continental throw-it-together-and-hope-for-the-best type of thing.
I’ll let these pictures speak for themselves…
Every morning, not only do you get to wake up in paradise but you walk down to coffee, a fresh smoothie and a hot breakfast. My absolute favorite was the omelette. My mouth is actually watering as I’m editing the pictures for this post now!
After breakfast, you can get ready for the day and if you’ve arranged any tours, depart for those. I had arranged two day trips and since I was the only guest, they were entirely private!
One of The Firefly’s staff members, René, is the guide and also the gentleman who meets guests at the dock and will help carry any bags you bring with you.
The only downside to my tours being completely private is that the cost was 100% on me. But in my book, that’s not a big down side!
My first day trip with René was to “Hollywood,” a mangrove which dozens of Starfish and a pod of playful Dolphins call home. No matter where you stay in Bocas Del Toro, this is a must-see!
From there, we went to the Bat Caves in Bahia Honda. The boat ride to these bat caves is 20 – 30 minutes through mangroves that home dozens of Sloths and we were lucky enough to see a Mama and her baby up close!
We finished the day at Red Frog Beach where I had my fill of Rum Punch and relaxed on a beach lounger as I watched others learn how to surf.
The best part about arranging your tours through The Firefly and with René is that you can take as long as you’d like! The tour is entirely at your own pace. René knows all the best spots so on my first day I just asked him where we should go and went with his recommendations.
The only recommendation I have (and the locals agreed) was the Zapatilla islands. Unfortunately since I was alone, these were a bit out of my price range. But if you go, you really shouldn’t miss these.
For our second day trip, we started at Sloth Island. René and I hopped on the boat and puttered around and spotted dozens of sloths sleeping in the trees they call home.
It wasn’t as many as we saw in the mangroves on our way to the Bat Caves but it was 20x more than I saw in all of Costa Rica combined!
SIDE NOTE: Make sure you pack properly for this trip! The Firefly staff went above and beyond and loaned me the rain jacket I’m wearing in this picture AND the water shoes I needed to trek through the rain forest to get to the Bat Caves. Don’t make the same mistake I did and follow my Panama Packing Guide.
Afterwards, we took the boat over to Coral Caye. Unfortunately the current was too strong to safely snorkel for longer than 5 minutes but it was absolutely beautiful.
To make up for the snorkeling missed there, we finished at The Blue Coconut restaurant on Isla Solarte. That’s right, snorkeling at a restaurant!
Right next to the restaurant are more mangroves that home Sea Stars as well as the most beautiful and colorful coral you’ll see in all of Panama’s Caribbean. There are dozens of types of fish. You’ll see Sea Urchins and even spot some Jellyfish! (Don’t worry, they’re pretty harmless. And they’re what attract the dolphins!) I also spotted some baby Barracudas.
You can see more pictures from my day trips including some adorable sloths, the Bat Caves, and tons more wildlife in my 20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Bocas Del Toro post.
There are so many things to do in Bocas Del Toro and The Firefly can arrange just about any of them! From ATV adventures, to zip lining, to private massage sessions and yoga classes.
After all this adventuring, you’ll return to spectacular sunsets over the shore with beautiful twinkle lights hanging above you and a warm shower to rinse all the salt and sunscreen away.
Then, once the day is done, lay in *literally* the most comfortable bed you’ll ever sleep in. You’ll hear the waves softly crashing, lulling you to sleep, a gentle reminder that you slumber in paradise.
If it weren’t for The Firefly Hotel, I’m not sure I would have had as amazing of a time in Bocas Del Toro as I did. Don’t get me wrong, Bocas is a great place to visit, no matter what!
But the staff at The Firefly are some of the kindest, generous people I’ve met and they truly love this place–you can tell. They want those who visit to fall in love with it just like they have! Having a dedicated tour guide like Rene made my experience so superior, I may compare every tour I go on to his from now on. I KNOW I will compare every bed I sleep in to The Firefly’s, that much is for sure!
I’ve never been much of a traveler who’s wanted an all-inclusive experience and The Firefly isn’t advertised as such but it kind of is! Other than your lunches, they basically care of everything! And they’ve created such a calming oasis on their property, it’s almost divine.
Waking up on my final day, I felt such sorrow that I had to leave. I left with a resolve I have felt literally no where else in my life: That I had to return soon, very soon. So I would suggest you book your stay as soon as possible! Because gems like this don’t stay hidden for long. The influencers will find them and a reservation will soon be next to impossible, I’m sure.
So now that we’ve answered your question of where to stay in Bocas Del Toro, book your stay by contacting the hotel directly via their website. I would recommend staying at least 4 nights but a whole week would be sublime.
For further reading, make sure you check out my itineraries for 2 or 3 Perfect Weeks in Panama.
But before you go, you’ll definitely want to know what to pack!
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