Visiting Bocas del Toro During Semana Santa

Visiting Bocas del Toro During Semana Santa

Bocas del Toro has an ambiance and environment unlike anywhere else in Panama. With the mainland surrounded by a group of neighboring islands, it offers a mixture of Caribbean, Hispanic and tropical vibes. The experience was even more unique because I was visiting Bocas del Toro during the holy week of Semana Santa (Easter).

About Bocas del Toro

Visiting Bocas del Toro map

Bocas del Toro is a province of Panama translating to “Mouths of the Bull”. It consists of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Bahía Almirante (Almirante Bay), Chiriquí Lagoon, and the adjacent mainland. It is comprised of a mainland surrounded by nine small islands. The capital city is Bocas del Toro (or Bocas Town) on Isla Colón (Colón Island).

The area was first visited in 1502 by Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus while searching for the passage to the Pacific Ocean. The original name given to the island by Columbus was Isla del Drago. Bocas del Toro was originally apart of Costa Rica, but eventually became Panamanian territory after many disputes. The main languages are of Spanish and Creole, and they use US dollars or Panamanian balboa.

Visiting Bocas del Toro During Semana Santa

Visiting Bocas del Toro: Street view
Bocas del Toro is the perfect destination in Panama for a Caribbean atmosphere. On the mainland is an eclectic variety of foods, ranging from Panamanian dishes with plantains & rice to authentic Indian cuisine. There is also a nightlife scene with many bars and an outdoor club. However, I was visiting during the holy week of Semana Santa so most bars were closed and nobody was serving or selling any alcohol.

Visiting Bocas del Toro - Food: Pineapple hamburger

Semana Santa is the holiday in Central America for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Semana Santa is Spanish for “Holy Week”, and celebrates the death, burial and resurrection. In the United States, we refer to it as Easter, and typically only celebrate on Sunday. However in Central America, they celebrate from Thursday through Sunday. During these four days, almost everything is shut down unless you are in a tourist area.

But despite the fact that it was Semana Santa, everything at Bocas del Toros was open except for bars. The small mainland has a main strip filled with color. Shops, bars, restaurants and hotels line the streets, giving it a small, beach town feel. You can buy fresh fruit smoothie on the street or shop at one of the local thrift stores. However since this is a tourist attraction, you can expect higher prices than the rest of Panama.

The surrounding islands offer beaches, wildlife and lagoons. The nine different islands have so much to offer, each one unique. Here is what the islands have:

  • Dolphin watching
  • Giant sea turtles & starfish
  • Large beaches surrounded by lush Panamanian rainforest
  • A restaurant on the water with tropical birds
  • Sloths
  • Snorkeling

But possibly my favorite part is the boat ride through the islands.

Conclusion on Visiting Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is an amazing gem right at the border of Panama and Costa Rica. It offers such amazing tropical weather, food, and ambiance. Just be aware that it is a tourist attraction so prices are more expensive than usual. But overall it is a place unlike any other in Panama.

For more information on how to get to Panama from Costa Rica, read “How to Renew Your Tourist Visa in Costa Rica – Panama Border Run

Originally from Chicago, now traveling around the world while working remotely as a web designer / developer. A Christian trying to be a shining light in a dark world.


  • Andrew Brod May 18, 2018 at 9:29 am Reply

    Bocas del Toro is a province of Panama comprising an island chain off the Caribbean coast, I’ve visited that place before, And I must say your blog is very informative thank you for sharing

    • travel His world June 2, 2018 at 6:23 pm Reply

      Thanks for your feedback! Yeah I absolutely loved Bocas del Toro, I want to go back after the rain season.

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