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  • Photo: Vilainecrevette / shutterstock

Bocas del Toro

The town of Bocas del Toro, which the locals simply call Bocas, sits on a little headland connected to the island's primary landmass by a narrow isthmus and is a neat grid packed with homes, businesses, and government offices. The town is surrounded by water on three sides, which gives it plenty of ocean views. The nearest beach, on the isthmus that connects it to Isla Colón, is not the island's best. The town itself holds few sights, but is a laid-back town with wide streets, weathered Caribbean architecture, and plentiful greenery. To play in the surf and sand, you either have to boat to Isla Bastimentos or take a bike, taxi, bus, or boat to one of the beaches on Isla Colón. An abundance of boatmen, dive shops, and tour operators are eager to show you paradise.

Most of Bocas's restaurants and other businesses are on or near Calle 3, its main drag sometimes called Calle Principal. This wide, north–south track stretches from one end of town to the other (seven blocks) and runs along the sea for its southern half. Boats to the mainland and other islands depart from docks along that stretch, as do tours bound for fun in the sun, while people from the other islands arrive here to shop and run errands.

Halfway up Calle 3, Calle 1 branches off it to the right, passing various hotels and restaurants built over the water. Calle 3 ends at Avenida Norte, which runs west to the isthmus that connects the town to Isla Colón and across the island. If you turn right onto Avenida Norte and walk two blocks to the island's northeast corner, you find the fire station, which holds a couple of antique fire engines.

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