It’s a hard life in Bocas del Toro

Greetings from paradise, friends!  Thanks to the high demand for hostel reviews here, we’ve spent the last five days chilling the gorgeous Bocas del Toro islands off the coast of western Panamá.  The chain consists of several islands, some big, some small, with endless opportunities for exploring.

We first hit up Isla Colón, the biggest island in the chain.  Bocas Town, the most hoppin’ place in the islands, is there.  Although super touristy, it had a laid-back California-esque vibe which we really enjoyed.  Although there’s tons of snorkeling and surfing spots around the Isla Colón, we wanted to have a more relaxing visit.  The biggest event was taking the bus to Boca del Drago, an isolated beach on the far side of the island.

Boca del Drago

It was pristine, refreshing, and relaxing, until we decided to save $5 by hiking back to town.  18km in the heat and we were about ready to fall over.  At least we had plenty of water this time!  (As longtime readers may know, we kind of suck at hiking readiness and preparation, despite how much we do it!)  Zach deciding to hoot back at an angry monkey proved that the heat may have been getting to us.  Thankfully, despite their heated argument, Zach stayed on the road and the monkey stayed in the tree.  When we finally made it back to Bocas Town, we were rewarded with $.50-beer happy hour at Mondo Taitu, and ice cream bars from the local supermarket.

The next day we headed to another island, Bastimentos, known for having less gringos and more wildlife.  Unfortunately it rained throughout most of our day here, but we still enjoyed wandering through Old Bank, listening to the unique Guari-Guari language spoken by the Afro-Panamánians here.

Swingin’ from trees like a monkey.

Although touristy, Bocas del Toro is still closer to its roots than similar places in Costa Rica (so we’ve heard).  I don’t think there’s any way that a couple days here wouldn’t be a good decision!

Pukalani Hostal in Bocas del Toro, Panamá

Pukalani Hostal in Bocas del Toro is a spectacular place to relax, party, and play!  The hostel is run by a fun family and offers all the activities necessary for enjoying your time on the beach: a pool, surf lessons, full moon parties, and happy hour!

Pukalani Hostal in Bocas del ToroPukalani Hostal is located right on the beach in Big Creek, a small community on Isla Colon 5km from Bocas Town.  You don’t need to worry about being isolated, however, as Pukalani offers frequent free shuttle service to and from town, and it’s also a beautiful walk!  The amazing private beach at Pukalani contains a nice dock with a pool table, grill, and seating.  The pristine pool is also a great place for lounging right next to the bar which offers great food and drinks all day.  For more adventurous fun, you can rent surfboards, paddleboards, or kayaks.  Manager Juan is a former coach for the Panamanian surf team, so you know a surf lesson from him is one from the best!

Pukalani Hostal in Bocas del Toro

Pukalani offers spacious, great-value dorms, or doubles with private bathrooms, TVs, and kitchenettes.  All the rooms are colorful, clean, and contain fans and air-conditioning.  There is an outdoor shared kitchen available for those staying in the dorm rooms.  The bathrooms are clean and modern with plenty of hot water.

Try to time your stay at Pukalani with one of its famous full moon parties!  With a pool, bar, activities, and an amazing beach just steps away from your room, Pukalani Hostal is a superb choice for a fun, comfortable stay in Bocas del Toro.

Services Offered:
Free shuttle to and from Bocas Town three times a day


Bar/restaurant on site


Surfboard rentals and lessons available

Paddleboard and kayak rentals available

Tourist information

Weekly events and parties

Shared kitchen for dormitories

Kitchenettes and TVs in private rooms

Shared outdoor grill

Pool table

TV and DJ booth in bar

Hot water 24/7

Fans and air-conditioning in rooms

Location: Big Creek, Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro (5km east of Bocas Town on the main road)

Phone: (507) 6949 6465




Dormitory: $15

Private double: $66

Private double, oceanfront: $85

This post was sponsored by Pukalani Hostal.