"A Disappointment" Isla Bastimentos by Over60

Isla Bastimentos Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 10 photos

Africa in Panama

I chose this place because I was looking for an alternative to the higher priced accomodations and "touristy" Bocas del Toro nearby. The island is easily reached by a short boat ride from Bocas. While the island is not without its redeeming qualities (see other tips), I'd have to characterize my visit as disappointing. Most of the people on the island are of African descent (via Jamaica). I'm not sure whether they are victims of discrimination or merely of isolation, but the poverty here is extreme--more similar to West Africa than the rest of Panama. Jobs seemed to be limited to farming and the small tourist industry, and the high unemployment rate manifests itself in the form of a lot of people just hanging around. Growing, smoking, and peddling pot also seems to be a major industry. With the poverty come overflowing trash bins, litter everwhere, disgusting looking trash filling the streams and floating in the bay, and lots of unpaved and extremely muddy paths (it rains a lot here). The interior of the island, which is said to harbor a nice lake, is for all practical purposes, inaccessible, so one is limited to visiting the beaches. The nearest one, though attractive, is reached only by boat or a half hour slog through knee-deep mud.

  • Last visit to Isla Bastimentos: Mar 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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