Bastimentos Island is an island with eponymous town, and corregimiento located in the Bocas del Toro District and archipelage of Bocas del Toro Province, Panama. The island is about 20 square miles (52 km2), one of the largest in Panama.Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park encompasses a large portion of Bastimentos Island, Zapatilla Cays, in addition to the waters and mangroves that surround the island.
The western tip of the island, better known as Bastimentos, is clearly visible from Bocas town, and is not part of the National Park itself. There are several private residences here.
Bastimentos National Park (Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos) encompasses a large area of Bastimentos Island of the Zapatilla Cayes in Bocas Del Toro Province. This marine park covers approximately 13,000 hectares of both land and ocean.
The beachfront areas in the park are mostly located on the eastern side which faces the Caribbean Sea. One of the most popular beach areas of the park is called Red Frog Beach, so named for the red poison dart frogs that can be found here. Other less accessible beach areas are not as popular with tourists and are located in both northern and southern areas of the park. They can be reached by hiking along a beach trail.
The park is home to a diverse collection of wildlife, birds and plants, including the poison dart frogs, howler monkeys and two and three toed sloths. However, there are no trails into the interior of the island, so opportunities to observe wildlife may be limited. There is excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities in the area due to unspoiled coral reefs which are home to over 200 species of marine fish.
The culture of Bastimentos is very different from the neighboring islands. It is very rustic, and the locals speak Guari Guari, which is a mixture of English and Spanish with very heavy creole influences. Bastimentos also does not have any cars, scooters, or motorized vehicles of any kind on the island. The “road” through the town of Old Bank, which inhabits only 600 people, is just a large paved sidewalk lined with brightly painted houses, only about 4 basic restaurants, very rustic bars, and of course many playing children, stray dogs, roosters, chickens, and an occasional goat.