Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels. If you would like to take part please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or @em_luxton – I would love to hear from you!
This week’s guests are Randi and Michael, two friends who set off on a year long round the world trip and started a website, www.justapack.com, to educate people about backpacking and travel on a budget. Follow them on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google Plus.
Hi guys! So, where is this postcard from?
Bocas del Toro, Panama – A paradise for those chasing summer weather, beautiful beaches, and a relaxed lifestyle like the two of us are.
Ooh, sounds perfect! How was the weather?
We were there for the entire month of May. The weather ranged from hot and sunny to hot and rainy.
Where did you stay?
We stayed in Bocas Town at a lovely little hostel called Hostal Hansi. Bocas Town is the least attractive spot in all of Bocas del Toro, it is pretty touristic, however it does have a certain charm to it. It is filled with waterside restaurants and bars and is a great hub for exploration of the archipelago that is Bocas del Toro. Bocas del Toro has a laid back “island life” vibe… just like Caye Caulker, Belize go slow is a good thing to keep in mind while there.
What did you get up to?
We spent most of our time on some of the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen. Bocas del Toro is a paradise for beach bums. There are so many options near Bocas Town. Take a boat just a few minutes away to the next island and you’re at a beach filled with locals that has calm, warm, clear waters and white sand. You can go a bit further to Red Frog Beach. The boat drops you off on one side of an island where you have to trek through the jungle about 10 minutes until the lush greenery opens up to a wide sandy beach, crashing waves, and beautiful skyline. If you jump on a local shuttle bus you can go to Drago Beach, and walk about 20 minutes to Starfish Beach for clear, calm, warm waters where you can see starfish and even a few manta rays. Of all of the beaches Bocas had to offer, the most beautiful was Isla Zapatillas. It is a deserted island paradise with the most relaxing feel and beautiful surroundings you can imagine. If we had to be stranded on an island in Central America, this is the one we would choose.
What was your highlight?
For us, the highlight was Starfish Beach. It was easy to get to, had small huts offering food and drink, a calm peaceful atmosphere and was perfect for swimming, reading, relaxing and soaking in the sun. Plus we were able to share our experiences with visiting family and friends we made in Bocas. Amazing memories made there.
How did you find the food in Panama?
Randi: As a vegetarian, the options were pretty limited and I had to cook for myself at the hostel a lot. However, I did discover a great little restaurant that was tucked away behind a storefront and was overlooking the water. The restaurant was Leaf Eater’s Cafe. The restaurant is run by a mother daughter team and has what was the best vegetarian food I found in Central America. I loved this place and frequented it often. They had a daily menu with several veggie burgers, veggie tacos, and something called the Hippie Bowl which included brown rice, kale, tomatoes, beets and carrots all mixed with a lemon tahini sauce and topped with a perfectly fried egg. For me it was heaven.
Michael: Some places offer a $5 lunch menu where you can get a whole fried red snapper, rice, beans, salad, and soda. Can’t beat that, yum.
Were there any funny stories or embarrassing moments?
Well, what happens in Bocas stays in Bocas, but let’s just say that there is a big party scene with plenty of things to do and lots of trouble to get into if you’re into that sort of thing…
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone planning a similar trip?
Plan to spend as much time as possible in Bocas del Toro. We stayed for a month and would have stayed longer if we didn’t have flights to Europe booked.
And finally, what’s the most useful bit of Spanish you picked up?
“No gracias”, for all of the drug dealers on the street that came up to us at least five times a day offering their wares.
NB – all images are owned by Randi and Michael of www.justapack.com