The Reed's Guide to Going Rogue in Bocas Del Toro, Panama
by Heidi Baker, designer of OZMA of California.
After leaving a longtime design position in San Francisco, I headed south with just a friend, a backpack, and a surfboard. My objective was to find warm waters and just a brief pause from the city lifestyle, however after Bocas Del Toro, Panama, quickly became a favorite spot on the journey, we happily decided to stay much longer than expected. I found that the slow sway of my hammock, constant hum of music, fluorescent caribbean waters, weaving mangroves, secret beaches, and the sweet scent of fresh fish and coconut perfectly intoxicating. Although I'd highly recommend getting lost and exploring the islands slowly, this guide outlines my favorite spots to help you begin, if feel like going rogue in Panama as well.
Each of the nine inhabited islands that make up the Bocas del Toro archipelago on the north shore of Panama offer a diverse experience. Island hopping is done by boat taxi and that's absolutely an adventure in itself! There are two ways to get to Bocas del Toro: The way I did, which was to take a bus from Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica to the Rio Sixaola Bridge (an old rail and footbridge with holes in it, good luck if you have any luggage at all and I'd definitely would recommend hiding iPhones and Ray-Bans in a secure place) which leads you into Panama. Once you clear customs, take a taxi to Almirante, a tiny town that has a regular boat shuttle to the main island of Isla Colón. The other way to get to Bocas is to fly into Panama City or San Jose, Costa Rica, and take puddle jumper right into Bocastown. Surely the latter is easier, but there are no surfboards allowed on the small planes, so weigh your decision with that mind.
Not long after Heidi returned home she started designing her own label, OZMA of California. The first collection launched in the summer of 2015 and is designed with the traveling woman in mind. OZMA pieces are meant to be worn and loved - from the time that a wetsuit comes off in the morning to a late night dinner in Bocastown. Check out The Reed's selection of OZMA apparel here.