When you’re exploring Isla Colon, the main island of the Bocas del Toro province, it is a requirement to get out of Bocas Town and see the pristine beaches around the island. Renting an ATV for the day is the ideal way to set your own itinerary, pace and priorities for what to explore.
You can rent an ATV from Flying Pirates for $140 for the entire day (9am to around 6.30pm). This is not a guided tour, but an option to go out and visit beaches, trek through the ‘Monkey Trail’ and take in some of the most impressive natural views on the island. You’re also getting access to the northern portion of the island which don’t have roads that can be reached by car.
You head out for the day along the coast of Bluff Beach. The southern most portion of this beach can be reached by car and there are a few beach bars and restaurants nestled along the shore where you can stop on your way home or just scope out which ones you may want to hit up in the coming days.
Bluff Beach tends to often have dangerous rip tides and it may be unwise to head out into the ocean on these days. You’ll get detailed instructions about all of this before departing for the day. There are some areas where the water is shallow and protected from the currents so you’ll still be able to hop into the water to cool down and relax your way into your day of adventure. In the areas like Bluff Beach you cannot drive onto the sand of the beach, but are able to park your ATV about 5 feet away from the edge.
You follow a trail up the coast where it leads out to a very narrow strip of beach right on the water. Get ready for some amazing views as you cruise along the edge of the water. In particular, you have to stop and soak in the sights at La Piscina. This little inlet is calm, clear blue water that you’ll be unable to just drive by.
After La Piscina, a few minutes up the trail you’ll encounter the blue lagoon. The crystal clear, sparking blue water is an amazing sight, but it can be a bit rough to try to enjoy the water here due to the rocky coral on the bank. Either the Blue Lagoon or La Piscina are great spots with some shade to stop for a snack or lunch with a view.
Once you pass the Blue Lagoon you’re heading into the jungle portion of the excursion. You can opt to park and walk the 0.5k to the Blowhole which is a bit further into the jungle – do not try to drive there unless it’s been an extremely dry season and the guide from Flying Pirates said it was ok. I got stuck. Three times. It was not fun.
Once you head into the jungle it almost seems like you’ve entered a human-made experience, as the monkeys begin howling the second you’ve driven onto Monkey Trail. As you drive through these windy trails in the jungle you’ll hear birds and monkeys chirping and howling over the sound of your ATV’s engine. For this portion you also want to really take your time and try to look around you to keep an eye out for monkeys, sloths and other wildlife.
The last portion of the trip is exiting the Monkey Trail onto the Jungle Highway. This is a much wider, smoother road that runs parallel to the beach trail you started on. While the navigation is much easier, this is also the portion where you get a chance to see some historical sites including driving down a track that has grown in but once served as an airstrip for Noriega’s nefarious export businesses.
If you have a driver’s license, you can also take your ATV all the way into Bocas Town if you finish your jungle and beach on the earlier side. Once you return your ATVs to Flying Pirates they offer two free beers per ATV rental at Skully’s Bar, which is a part of the same business. Hanging out and relaxing Skully’s is the perfect way to end your adventurous day.
Tips for your ATV adventure
- I recommend having one person per ATV. While you can fit two people, it won’t be as comfortable and it can be bit tougher to get through some of the trails. Someone may have to get off and walk for some of the tougher parts.
- While anyone of any skill level is able to rent the ATVs you should be aware that there are some tricky areas of the trail that could be frustrating for a first-timer.
- Bring water. Bring a lot of water. You’re going to be on the beach and in the jungle and it is going to be hot. There’s no where to stop and purchase anything after the first 15 minutes of your trip.
- Bring food or snacks if you plan on making it an all day excursion (which I recommend). You’re going to be dissapointed if you decide to cut some of the sightseeing short or hurry through some sections because you want to get to civilization for sustenance.
- Bring cash. They do not accept credit cards at Flying Pirates.
Contact & Reservations at Flying Pirates