For those headed this way with a car make sure you arrive EARLY… around 6:30am, the ferry from Almirante to Bocas leaves at 8am sharp (Monday through Saturday) there will be a line up for miles and each driver will be vying for a limited number of spots. Marlin was the last car on, made it by the skin of his little black bumper, accompanied by some fruit and vegetables, we were only one car away from having to spend an extra night to catch the ferry the next day.
Bocas del Toro is the biggest town on the main island of the Bocas Archipelago and it’s seriously Caribbean although tourism has run rampant in the last six years and the prices and scenery definitely reflect that. We chose to stay at the beautiful La Veranda, a 100 year old home, on the outskirts of town for only a little more than the price of the dorm beds in town. The ambiance of the second floor, large wooden veranda complete with rattan rockers and lazy fans helped lull us into the slow vibe of Bocas.
Looking for surf we hired a boat to take us to Red Frog Beach on Isla Bastimentos. A boardwalk shortcuts across the island and as a local worker scuffed past us in his rubber boots, Tom asked where the red frogs were at. He walked directly to a tree, bent down and then presented us with a Poison Dart Frog. They are so tiny! Ok, we weren’t supposed to hold them but the young guy said it was ok. (This was pretty dumb and we do not endorse it at all).
The red frogs are native to parts of Central and South America and live in rainforests. They emit a funny chirp noise and their bright colours can range from vibrant red with black spots to dark blue with pale blue markings which are meant to ward off predators. There are more than 100 species of Poison Dart Frog and the colours can vary within the species, they do carry a poison (which is why you shouldn’t touch them) but only three are apparently really dangerous to humans. From what I could gather they need to inject their poison, which is lucky for Tom and I, since we just held them (DUMB). Interestingly the toxins are derived from creatures they eat like ants or mites, so should you choose to have one as a pet and control it’s diet, it could potentially be poison free. Generally their toxins can’t permeate our skin, however, I did have rather numb, red looking fingers (and a serious panic attack that I was going to die) after touching that damn frog and would NOT touch one again.
One more interesting thing to note, it seems that the resort development aptly named Red Frog Beach, is rumoured to be encroaching on the habitat of its namesake and contributing to their declining numbers.
Happy to be alive the next morning, Tom and I caught a bus and headed to Bocas del Drago which is on the other side of Isla Colon. It was all that you could imagine a Caribbean beach to be. Bleached white sand, turquoise clear warm water and huge palms. If we had known how beautiful it was we would have opted to stay here, away from the hustle of Bocas del Toro. After enjoying the serenity of the place, and the company of some great Aussie gals, we negotiated a boat ride back and took in the sights of the island lifestyle before packing up wee Marlin and continuing on our way.