Not Just For Backpackers: Why Bocas del Toro is a Destination For All the Family

Written byLaura Field
Date

Often hailed as a surfer’s paradise and always a feature on backpackers’ Central America itineraries, Bocas del Toro is an archipelago of tropical islands in the north of Panama.

Sitting comfortably in the Caribbean Sea, Bocas del Toro and its islands are blessed with several of the features we’d all associate with something resembling paradise. There are pristine beaches, tropical rainforests, sensational sunsets and the general sense that nothing needs to be rushed or taken too seriously.

It’s easy to see why laid-back backpackers slowly making their way through this part of the world choose Bocas del Toro as a worthy stop. And while there are bars and clubs on the islands catering to party-goers, the main attraction of Bocas del Toro is actually the incredible nature.

Lively marine life, the impressive biodiversity of flora and fauna, and the chance to learn the ways of the land and waters from Indigenous communities are what make Bocas del Toro an exceptional destination.

With this in mind, we wanted to highlight that Bocas del Toro, and the adventure-packed, nature-immersed Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge are the perfect setting for enjoying multigenerational travel and will guarantee the forging of memories and unbridled enjoyment for every member of the family.

Tranquilo Bay Snorkeling

Settling in at Tranquilo Bay

Over 200 acres of private conservation reserve provide the setting for Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge, which is on Isla Bastimentos. It’s the only island in the Bocas del Toro archipelago to have its own national park so exceptional, well-cared-for nature comes with the territory.  

Founded by a couple and their close friend over 20 years ago, there is a sense of family and deep respect for Isla Bastimentos in Tranquilo Bay’s foundations. No wonder, then, that guests are made to feel part of the community throughout their stay. 

Keenly aware of their abundant surroundings and wanting to show them off to families visiting the island, Tranquilo Bay has created a Family Adventure Package for multigenerational travelers to enjoy all that Bocas del Toro has to offer. Adventurous activities and the comfort of a spacious, luminous and elegant ecolodge are the perfect setting for a memorable family getaway.

Tranquilo Bay 1

Family Adventures in Bocas del Toro

Tranquilo Bay’s Family Adventure Package allows all family members to soak up the very best of Bocas del Toro. From underwater pursuits to views high over the rainforest canopy, visitors can explore the biodiversity of the islands from every angle. 

A far cry from the thumps of DJ beats and the downing of shots enjoyed by some of the backpackers in Bocas del Toro, Tranquilo Bay’s Family Adventure Package showcases a more nature-focused, conservation-led, community-based and laid-back way to experience Bocas del Toro.

ThreeToedSlothMamaBaby

Snorkeling at Zapatilla Cayes

The two chalky white-shored islands of Zapatilla Cayes are just east of Isla Bastimentos and are protected by the Bastimentos National Marine Park. Snorkeling around here allows guests to catch a glimpse of the snapper, barracuda and other tropical fish that glide through the water among the reefs surrounding the islands.

It’s possible to walk around the entire circumference of each of the islands and appreciate the beauty of coconut palms, tropical hardwoods, sea grapes and almond trees while stopping for sea dips and sun soaks along the way.

Hiking to the Canopy Observation Tower

With 200 acres of conserved rainforest to explore on Tranquilo Bay’s grounds and several kilometers of forested trails covering various habitats, there are plenty of jungle hikes to discover around the lodge.

Forest bathe through the trails while taking in the splendor of the wildlife including hummingbirds, kingfishers, woodpeckers, herons and if you’re really lucky some lethargic sloths, green iguanas and poison dart frogs too. The show stopping spot to enjoy nature from above is Tranquilo Bay’s very own canopy observation tower, offering sweeping views of Isla Bastimentos and its vibrant vegetation.

Tranquilo Bay Canopy Tower

Touring a Criollo Cacao Plantation

While observing nature is important, perhaps even more crucial is to grasp an understanding of where our food comes from and how it is cultivated in a way that respects both land and community.

This is why Tranquilo Bay’s Family Adventure Package includes a tour of the nearby Green Acres Cacao Plantation, cultivating one of the rarest strands of cacao plant in the world, the Criollo. This trip offers an immersion into how the cacao trees are grown and the step-by-step process of transforming cacao pods into pure chocolate bars; of course, the tour ends with some sampling of this centuries-old treat.

Kayaking in Jellyfish Lagoon

Getting up close and personal with mesmerizing upturned jellyfish from the reassuring protection of a kayak is the ultimate way to experience a nearby lagoon full of underwater treasures.

Once safely distant from the jellyfish-smothered lagoon, it’s possible to engage in some more snorkeling at various spots near Tranquilo Bay to observe a wide variety of underwater creatures going about their daily life.

Kayaking Bocas del Toro

Hiking to a Bat Cave

At Tranquilo Bay, guests also particularly enjoy heading off to a nearby creek shortly after breakfast, making their way beneath the canopy of mangrove and rainforest to arrive at a local Indigenous farm. Guests are thoughtfully welcomed by members of the Indigenous community and can spend time speaking with them to learn more about their culture, history and way of life.

The excursion involves a hiking trail set under dense rainforest and full of revitalizing tropical vegetation. The hike often includes wildlife sightings including white-faced monkeys, two- and three-toed sloths, green iguanas, lizards, poison dart frogs, butterflies and of course an impressive variety of exotic birds too. The trail leads to Nivida Bat Cave where guests learn about the region’s geological history and can witness the transformation that this area of Earth has undergone over the years. Bats in the cave also enjoy showing guests around their home and highlighting its impressive history!

Travel as a Multigenerational Affair

So it’s safe to say that Bocas del Toro is not just a destination for lively backpackers but also for intrepid families wanting to enjoy multigenerational travel with adventures to suit everyone.

Nature is the real crowning feature of this Caribbean archipelago and the ability to enjoy its abundance is not limited to one age group or type of traveler. The biodiversity and tranquility of this northeastern region of Panama deserves to be experienced by everyone in the family.

The Tranquilo Bay Family Adventure Package can be enjoyed for 4 nights or 7 nights and includes accommodation in Tranquilo Bay’s elegant rainforest cabins and access to all of the water and land-based nature-focused activities available on Isla Bastimentos and within the Bocas del Toro archipelago.

To book an unforgettable family adventure at Tranquilo Bay, become a RegenerativeTravel+ member to receive $99 travel credit towards a 3 night minimum stay, a complimentary upgrade upon check-in based on availability and complimentary Guided Lagoon Kayak & Snorkel Tour ($100 USD value).

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