Bocas del Toro is famous for its banana industry, in full bloom since 1890. The industry was started by the Snyder bothers, immigrants from America. Bocas del Toro's homes, commercial establishments, roads, schools, and bridges were built to house and serve people working in the banana plantations.
Bocas del Toro is the sole wooden town in Panama - all its structures are built solely of wood. It boasts Caribbean colonial architecture, fusing Victorian elegance with a Key West vibe. Yet Bocas del Toro is a normal town, with all the services you need: telecommunications, a fire department, hospitals, electricity, and paved streets. Bocas even has its own airport.
To this day, the province is still highly dependent on bananas.
Yet Bocas is more than just bananas. The province's lush rainforests are home to flourishing flora and fauna. The beaches in Laguna Chiriqui and Bahia Almirante offer sparkling waters, thriving marine ecosystems, and coral reefs. There are outdoor activities such as river tours, bird watching, jungle tours, camping, diving, snorkelling, sailing, trekking, and other sports.
Isla Col�n is the most developed part of Bocas del Toro. The capital city of Isla Col�n, Bocas del Toro, is here, as is the country's international airport. Isla Col�n is an island, whose borders are surrounded by waters, while the centre is filled with lush forestry.
In the 1900s, Isla Col�n was the first headquarters of the United Fruit Company, and banana production started here. Today, Isla Col�n is a lively tourist area. All over the island, there are beachfront hotels, pulsating night clubs and bars, and inviting restaurants. Main Street, in particular, is home to plenty of tourist establishments.
Much of the development in Isla Col�n in years to come will be on the waterfront. Homes and tourist accommodations are being built here for good reason. Life in Isla Col�n revolves around the water - the best way to see another island, or to go around Isla Col�n, is by using a private boat or renting a water taxi.
Named after the word careening, Isla Carenero was where Christopher Columbus and his men stopped off in Panama in 1502, to clean their ships - and to careen.
Today, Isla Carenero is expected to be the next island to enjoy the fruits of development. Its great advantage is that it is just two minutes away from Isla Col�n.
For the time being, however, Isla Carenero retains a small town feel, ideal for visitors seeking to get away from the noise and clamour of Isla Col�n.
This island is recommended for those who want to be only a few steps from the water, as most housing developments are on beaches.