The Boca You Should Be Visiting This Winter

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Something you hear alot of this time of year (especially in New York) is: “I’m heading down to Boca for the weekend.” Chances are they’re probably not referring to Bocas del Toro, the Panamanian archipelago located in the Caribbean near the Costa Rica border.

Besides having a rich history (literally — guess where the Spanish exported their plunders from?), this 68-island chain is perfect for exploring unique wildlife — above ground as well as underwater in its coral reefs — as the SMH explores this week.

The islands were formed 10,000 years ago, when the polar ice caps melted. Rising sea levels separated the islands from the rest of Central America, creating a unique ecosystem with several endemic species. There is a red poison dart frog here that is found nowhere else in the world. Seagrasses, the perfect habitat for endangered sea turtles and manatees, brush against the bottom of my kayak.

What’s better than amazing wildlife and pristine tropical waters? How about really cheap flights. I remember this time last year when flights into Panama City were around the low-$300 range, and a quick check with Kayak shows prices have only risen slightly from that range for trips in the next couple months.

Bus rides from the capital to the archipelago go for only $20 (this is why we love traveling in Latin America) and get ready to settle in for an 8 1/2-hour trip. That’s not that bad, come on. When’s the last time you did anything sedentary for 8 1/2 hours that didn’t involve unconsciousness or alcoholic beverages?

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