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Culture of Bocas del Toro, is it for Me?

When you begin to plan to move to a new country, something you need to take into account is the culture of the place you are moving to. Cultures can vary widely from country to country, and even from city to city within a country. And in order for you to have a positive experience in your new home, you need to be sure it has a culture that you will fit into.

The culture of Bocas del Toro, Panama is very similar to that of an island that you might find in the Caribbean. But with all of the European and African influence, the island has a unique laid back melting pot of a culture that can’t be found anywhere else.

If you want to know more about the culture of Bocas del Toro and whether or not it would be a good fit for you and your family, then read the following article so you know exactly what to expect when you move to Bocas del Toro!

Bocas del Toro

What Cultures Make Up Bocas del Toro

The most unique thing about Bocas del Toro is that, unlike the rest of Panama, it truly is a melting pot of different cultures. In the early 20th century, the island was the site of several banana plantations. This attracted Europeans, Americans, Afro-Antillean workers, and Panamanians to the island to find jobs, and ultimately make money.

Over a century later, many of the descendants of these banana plantation workers still live and work on the island, resulting in an amazing mesh of cultures. This means that not only does the island celebrate the cultural events sacred to the locals of the islands, but also of African and European cultures as well. It’s highly likely that you could find yourself invited to multiple celebrations from different cultures all in one week!

Because Bocas del Toro is such a melting pot of people from all over the world, you will never have to worry about trying to fit in! The people are very welcoming and happy to help you find everything you need. Even if your first language isn’t English or Spanish, you can probably find a native speaker from your country somewhere in Bocas del Toro to connect with!

Does Bocas del Toro Have a Lot of Different Cultures?

Bocas del Toro is a collection of islands in the Caribbean sea, and each island does have a bit of a distinct culture. Thus moving from place to place in Bocas del Toro could feel like moving to a whole new world!


Bastimentos is the largest island in Bocas del Toro and most of the people who live here originated in Jamaica or the West Indies, giving the island a distinct Caribbean Island vibe. You’ll find cute cafes serving Afro-Caribbean dishes with sides of rice and peas and a laid-back island culture that will have you wondering why you ever worked a job in the first place!


San Cristobal is another main island of Bocas del Toro but unlike Bastimentos, there is a much more indigenous vibe here. The food will taste different here —less of a Caribbean taste more Latin American flavor. And you’ll find that the people on this island are more polite and welcoming than almost anywhere else in the entire country of Panama.


This next island, Carenero Island, is a popular tourist spot, and very popular location for expats. This creates a culture that is a mix of American, European, and indigenous people. It’s common to hear English spoken on the street here, and you will likely find a café or two. But don’t worry, as you will still be invited to local indigenous festivals and have a chance to explore indigenous art!

Bocas del Toro Beach

Something You Should Know About Bocas del Toro Culture

Are you ready to pack your bags and begin a new life in Bocas del Toro? Well, before you head over, you should know that those that live in Bocas del Toro care greatly for the environment.

Many of the Bocas del Toro cities are built to be friendly to bicycles, and you’ll probably find that they take you much further than a car would! And you will get some nice exercise in the process. There are also several national parks that you can hike, kayak, or explore using other non-diesel options to help lower your carbon footprint.

Additionally, you will find here that people are very careful about their utility usage, and reusable grocery bags to help eliminate waste are required by law. So if you are ready to adopt an eco-friendlier lifestyle, it’s definitely time to give Bocas del Toro a try.

Final Thoughts

The culture of Bocas del Toro isn’t for everyone, however the same can be said about any culture in the world! But, for those who want to live in a laid-back beach environment, with lots of different local festivals, and flavors of food, then Bocas del Toro is the place to be!

Whether you decide to ride your bike to the local café, kayak through the marine conversation area, or enjoy a local dance and art festival, Bocas del Toro is an amazing and welcoming place full of culture that can’t be beat!

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