I only wish I had time to read TA before going to Bocas...
My hubby & I visited Panama 2 years ago and spent 2 weeks in Santa Catalina & we had a great time. It was clean, not crowded, the locals were nice & hotels were affordable. Hubby loved it so much he considered buying property there.
We returned to panama January 2nd, 2013, and wanted to revisit Santa Catalina but the surf conditions wasn't good enough. After pre-paying for a week at Morro Negrito surf camp, we arrived to a totally different (and worse) hotel than was advertised on their site. (Total bait & switch. Please avoid Morro Negrito surf camp). Please see my review for details.
Someone in Panama City informed us that the surf was better in bocas, so we went there. We stayed a few nights in bocas town. The local men were very flirtatious & aggressive with me.
It was a hassle to even buy groceries. The men were everywhere and did not leave me alone if my husband wasn't right there with me.
Garbage everywhere & after a few days my entire body was covered in mosquito bites. The regular strength . insect repellant was useless! The sand flies were horrible and their bites were painful.
Prices of food was overpriced for the quality that I received.
The nightclubs were full of drug dealers and that worsened the experience for me.
Bocas is a great destination for surfing and surfing only. The surf was really good for a week, but the waves were crowded. I only wish we left as soon as the swell dropped.
We then spent a week in Bastimentos, Red Frog beach. The locals were much nicer, but the food was terrible (at Bocas Bound) & we were extremely bored.
It was the worst vacation ever & we will never return to Bocas. There are much better options for a relaxing, tranquil, clean tropical getaway that's close to the USA.