We had a birthday girl onboard and decided to have a day of fun ashore. The Bocas del Toro area has many attractions to enjoy; enough for any occasion. This is our version of how to celebrate a birthday in Bocas del Toro.
It was Ciska’s first birthday in Bocas del Toro since we finalized our residency in Panama.
Like so many of our previous travels, we decided not to plan this occasion to death. The result was no plan at all, other than “let’s do breakfast and take it from there.”
The weather was a little gloomy, so we discounted a visit to the beach. By the second cup of morning coffee, we remembered that a previous effort to explore Colón Island by bicycle rained out completely. That became the plan – a boozy Bocas birthday by bike!
While the water taxi was making its way to the island, our attention turned to a breakfast venue.
From the water taxi dock, it is a short stroll to Café del Mar. A small venue with a small crew and an interesting menu. The choice was burritos and they didn’t disappoint. It did take quite a while before our food arrived, but given the occasion, it wasn’t a problem.
All fuelled up and caffeinated, we were ready to get the wheels rolling.
Just around two corners, on the opposite side of the block, is Bocas Ebikes. They rent electric bicycles and we took the full-day option.
After a short explanation of how it all works, we were on our way out of town. Via the only ATM in town, that is – must have money to stay hydrated.
We avoided the taxis by taking the much quieter Avenue H, turning onto the beach at the graveyard. Istmito Beach is not the cleanest beach around, but it remains enjoyable to ride along it.
Bocas had to wait for a long time before getting its own giant letters. Now that the letters are on display, we took a photo to add to our giant letter collection.
Past the “Y” is officially “out of town”
The so-called Y is where the only road out of town splits into two – one cutting across the center of the island to Boca del Drago, the other following the beach towards the northern end of Bluff Beach. We kept to the right.
About 2km along this road, just before the tropical heat and humidity got the better of us, we reached Skully’s. The birthday drinking list promptly started with a cold local beer, Balboa.
Skully’s is a delightful bar with a beautiful view of Carenero Island, as well as Bastimentos further away. The storm clouds produced a short downpour, but we were on our way again soon enough.
A cat with good taste
Just past Skully’s, the road turns into a dirt road. It was, however, in good shape and the wide tyres of the electric bikes made riding easy.
It was still drizzling lightly when we reached Paki Point Restaurant, just more than a kilometer from Skully’s. These tropical drizzles are always welcome, though, especially when you feel like you are about to overheat.
When Ciska added a Banana Milk with Rum to her drinking list, the resident cat joined in. And it was hilarious how focussed she was to get a taste! She persisted until she got a few helpings on the finger.
The road from Paki Point to Playa Escondida runs through the area known as Paunch. It is a scenic drive as a large part of the road runs under the high forest canopy. The area is home to many guest houses, restaurants and homes making the ride even more interesting.
Bluff Beach – one of Colón’s star attractions
After Paunch comes the Bluff area, a stretch of about five kilometers which is home to the popular Bluff Beach. Bluff makes for an enjoyable ride, with the yellow beach on one side and the forest on the other.
It is a good spot for experienced surfers; not so good for a casual swim because the currents are dangerous. There are however enough warning signs to keep visitors safe.
On outings like these, I carry my trusted tomahawk with me, because you never know when you will find a coconut within reach. We found two and with a few brisk chops, we had fresh coconut water.
Tiki bars to the rescue
Somewhere near the middle of the Bluff area, almost hidden from sight, is Bom Bom Beach Bar, right on the beach.
It was almost like the fresh coconut water we had a while earlier was an omen, because the very first item we noticed on the menu was Coco Loco! It is a coconut-based cocktail from the Caribbean, and it tastes as good as it sounds.
Just a short distance from Bom Bom, maybe a kilometer or so, Bluff Beach Road ends and we had to turn back. And right there, we found the northernmost beach bar on this road, Maronda. The barman claimed to be a cocktail artisan and Ciska tested the Mojito – must stay hydrated!
The road back
The day was getting on and we had to return our transport before six that afternoon, so it was back in the saddle.
The bicycle’s little electric motors generate surprisingly strong power, which came in handy. We were equally surprised at its economy, as the batteries were still showing a full charge.
Before we reached the end of the Bluff area, we came to a restaurant called The View. It is situated high on a hill across the road from a lovely stretch of beach, and it was apparent how it got its name.
It was too good to pass on, and we enjoyed the view while sipping a Cosmopolitan.
Discovering a new venue
All too soon we were back in town, again taking the quiet Avenue H, when we noticed a new bar called My Happy Place. I think we were the very first customers.
My Happy Place has a most exquisite view and we enjoyed the onset of dusk with an ice-cold Corona.
All this celebrating makes one hungry
With the bikes returned safely, we were ready for an early dinner. We picked Raw Fusion to enjoy another beautiful view, with a Balboa.
Home is where the boat is
After visiting the nearest supermarket for a few supplies, it was back to the boat with a water taxi.
There was no sign of the morning’s foul weather and we settled on the bow to admire the sunset over calm water. Ciska’s birthday list concluded with a rum punch, specially prepared by the captain!
Just as we thought the day could not get any better, we noticed a small pod of dolphins towards the south, in the direction of Dolphin Bay. They were a few hundred feet away, but clearly visible as they gently surfaced for air.
“Old age is always fifteen years older than I am”
I would love to have your thoughts on celebrating a birthday at a special place.
Liked this post? We’ll appreciate a pin and share!