From the Sixaola border crossing it was a shared motor-taxi followed by a shared water-taxi to the town of Bocas del Toro on Isla Colon. The Bocas del Toro Archipelago is a group of islands off the northwest coast of Panama known for stunning, mangrove lined beaches. After the rainy, long travel travels leading up to Bocas, I was ready to be a beach bum.
The humid, rainy weather the following morning subsided long enough to catch a bus north to Starfish Beach (Playa Estrella). Along the way the driver spotted a sloth on the side of the road (trying to get to the other side?). I later learned that this was a rare and lucky sighting as a sloth only comes down from its tree around once a week to have a bowel movement. True story. Instead I choose to believe that this sloth gave up its tree to its offspring and was on a journey to find another one!
The bus stopped at Boca del Drago and from there it’s a 15-20 minute walk along the coast or a $1 water taxi to Starfish Beach. Not knowing how much time I’d be afforded before the rain returned, I opted for the taxi there and walked back. The beach lived up to its name with bright, redish-orange starfish dispersed sporadically in the shallow water. Online reviews warned that the beach would be covered with clear starfish needles. Thinking I was clever, I wore my Keen sandals, but the needles would wash in with the shallow, sandy water leaving me pulling out splinters the rest of the day!
Signs were posted everywhere asking visitors to not touch the starfish. The story was that they could die if you picked it up. I have not been able to find anything online to back this up, beyond that they are fragile creatures and you’d be disturbing them. Regardless, rules are rules and yet there were plenty of ding-dongs picking them up out of the water to pose for pictures or to examine them.
That was my big excursion on Bocas. There were plenty of other highly recommended beaches on other nearby islands, but with the weather being less than ideal I opted to appreciate the one beach day and head for the mountains.