Yellow beach houses in Bocas del Toro Panama
Town of Bocas del Toro is located 35 minutes by bus and 25 minutes by boat from the field station. Bocas del Toro has many amenities including several hotels and pensions, restaurants, bakeries, vegetable markets, parks, a bank, ATM machines, hospital, dentists, police and fire departments, bars, pool halls, beaches, dive shops, boat and scooter rentals, and an airport providing daily service to Panama City. Bocas del Toro can be accessed by airplane, or from the mainland city of Almirante, by ferry (1 hr) or by water taxi (30 min). Bocas del Toro residents are very friendly and thousands of tourists visit here yearly.
South of Isla Colón lies Isla Bastimentos ("place for provisioning") which is home to Bastimentos National Marine Park. This park covers an area of 13,226 ha and was primarily established to protect the abundant coral reefs in the region, but protects a swath of the island's interior as well. The most spectacular coral reefs occur near Zapatilla Cays, which lie to the south of Isla Bastimentos. Isla Bastimentos' geology is similar to Isla Colón's, with a hilly interior, mangroves on the west side and a 6 km beach (Playa Larga) on its east side. The remaining large islands are Isla Solarte, Isla Cristóbal, Isla Popa, and Isla Cayo Agua. Isla Popa has the largest Ngöbe population of any of the islands in the group. An additional interesting site is spectacular Bird Island, a protected nesting place for brown-headed boobies and red-billed tropicbirds, among other species.