Updated April 14, 2018
I first read about Red Frog Beach pretty early on in my research about what there was to do in Bocas del Toro. At first, I filed it away in the back of my mind as a place that we could take a water taxi to for a lazy beach day. A little later on in my research, I read that it was possible to walk from Wizard Beach along the shore to Red Frog Beach. Since Wizard Beach was only a short half hour hike from our base in Old Bank on Isla Bastimentos, we figured that we might as well make a day out of it. And so off we went.
How to Hike to Wizard Beach from Old Bank, Isla Bastimentos
We started off our morning with the short, half hour hike from our guesthouse on Isla Bastimentos to Wizard Beach. Although Google Maps marked the path, in real life it was a bit harder to find. At one point, we were pretty sure that we were walking through someone’s backyard. As was pretty common for us in the town of Old Bank.
Luckily, a young boy quickly recognized us as the confused gringos that we were and pointed us in the right direction. Apparently, we weren’t the only tourists who had attempted to find the path to Wizard Beach and had run into some confusion. Soon enough we found ourselves on the forest path that we had been expecting.
Our guidebook warned us that the path could be muddy after it rained, but we figured that it wouldn’t be a problem. After all, it hadn’t been raining since we had been there. Little did we know, you could still find patches of mud even if it hadn’t rained in some time.
The stuff was completely covering our shoes, feet, and legs by the time we arrived on the beach. The sight that spread out in front of us quickly distracted us from that though. Aside from the few people dotting the horizon, the only real hint that there had been anyone there before us were the footprints in the sand.
After setting up our blanket on the barely touched sand we ventured out to stick our feet in the water and try to clean a little bit of the mud off our shins. Since we had been warned that the waves on Wizard Beach could be rough, we didn’t want to wade out much farther than that.
Feeling at least a little bit cleaner than we had before, we took some time to just chill out on our beach blanket and take in the beautiful surroundings. I laid back and closed my eyes for a while, and Daniel did what he does best and made some funny faces.
Things to do on Wizard Beach
There’s really not much to do on Wizard Beach besides lay back, relax, and enjoy the solitude. If you’re a surfer, then Wizard Beach is one of the top places to surf in Bocas del Toro, from what I hear. Of course, I am absolutely no authority on the subject. Here’s the Wizard Beach surf forecast, if you’re interested. Bear in mind that to get there you’ll either need to take a water taxi or bring your board with you on the half hour hike from Old Bank!
How to Hike to Red Frog Beach from Wizard Beach
(aka the beginning of the end)
After feeling sufficiently relaxed, we started off on the walk from Wizard Beach to Red Frog Beach, shoes in hand. The walk began pleasant enough. The only real complaint I had at that point was that my feet kept sinking into the sand, which was easily remedied by moving over to the wet sand closer to the waves. Soon enough, we had the whole beach to ourselves. Palm trees were jutting out over the water and I couldn’t help but remark that it felt like we were on an episode of ‘Survivor’.
Looking back on it, I probably shouldn’t have mentioned Survivor. Pretty soon after I did, things started to get a little bit messy. When we came across a large grouping of trees, my first thought was ‘pretty!’ Then, I realized that we were going to have to find a way through them.
Although the way through these trees was pretty easy to find, it wasn’t exactly the easiest to walk through. We had to put our shoes back on to make sure that we didn’t cut our feet open on a stray branch. Still, I was optimistic.
The walk continued on like this for some time, and although we were getting pretty hungry we didn’t completely mind the few little detours through the trees. We were having an adventure, after all.
Then it got worse
We suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a muddy swamp. On the other side, we ran into another group of travelers and continued our walk with them. While we were talking and getting to know each other, we ended up in the jungle, slowly trudging our way up a hill.
Our good old friend the mud was there with us too, and sometimes let us sink all the way up to our knees in him. All of it was just a little bit Jurassic Park-esque, and we had no idea where we were going. Daniel and I were also completely starving by this point, so it was a pretty miserable ordeal.
By the time we finally saw the light, everyone had taken their shoes off and had a few new cuts in their feet to show for it. When the ocean came into view, we all ran towards it with huge grins on our faces. We were sure that we were never going to see the light of day again. Needless to say, it was a pretty exciting moment.
Sidenote: Is hiking from Wizard Beach to Red Frog Beach dangerous?
There is not a lot of information out there about hiking from Wizard Beach to Red Frog Beach, and what there is honestly has a sense of scaremongering to it. One TripAdvisor review I read even mentioned “frequent muggings with machetes,” which I honestly find just a little bit far out.
If you’re worried about your valuables, leave them at home (which tbh is just good advice for traveling in general). But honestly, I’d say the biggest thing you have to worry about is the mud.
If it has rained at all in the recent past, the trails between both Old Bank and Wizard Beach and Wizard Beach and Red Frog Beach are going to be muddy. So be prepared for that. Definitely forgo your usual flip-flop beach attire and wear some sturdier shoes (that you don’t mind getting totally destroyed). If you have them, hiking boots are totally suitable (p.s. if you don’t, I love my Ahnu Sugarpine boots).
The trail between Old Bank and Wizard Beach is marked on Google Maps but is a little bit hard to find. If you think you’re walking through someone’s backyard, you’re probably in the right place. You can also go by way of Up in the Hill (more on them in my other Bocas del Toro post) if you want to do a bit more hiking
The trail between Wizard Beach and Red Frog Beach is unmarked and undeveloped. If you head east along the shoreline from Wizard Beach through, you’ll eventually reach Red Frog Beach. I think it probably took us about an hour and a half, so bring snacks.
Red Frog Beach
Once we had reached Red Frog Beach, the first thing on our minds was food. We settled in on the outdoor deck of Palmar Tent Lodge’s restaurant, and I gorged myself on Spaghetti. We then slept off our food comas on some nearby lounge chairs before venturing into the ocean for some much-deserved swim time.
Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to take any photos while at Red Frog Beach. But, I was once again blown away by the beauty of the place – even if there were a few more people there than there had been at Wizard Beach earlier in the day. Once we had gotten our fill of the beach, we walked the short ten minutes to the water taxi dock. There, we made our way back home, glad to have the chance to rest for the night after a much more adventurous day than we had expected.
Things to do on Red Frog Beach
Red Frog Beach is significantly more developed than Wizard Beach, so if you’re looking for a place where you don’t have to think about where your next meal is coming from, I can definitely recommend it. After hiking from Wizard Beach to Red Frog Beach, we tucked into a meal at Palmar Beach Lodge’s restaurant, which was delicious and I would definitely recommend.
Palmar Beach Lodge has a bunch of beach chairs scattered out in front of it and no one seemed to have a problem with us using them after we ate. Reviews on TripAdvisor warn against swimming, but while we were there the ocean was playing nice and it was some of the clearest, calmest water I’ve ever swum in. I would suggest being cautious, and to always listen to instructions and heed warnings.
If you’re up for even more adventure after hiking from Wizard Beach to Red Frog Beach, then check out the Bastimentos Sky Zipline Canopy Tour.
Where to Stay on Red Frog Beach
Fall in love with Red Frog Beach and don’t want to leave? You’re in luck. There are actually loads of hotels and hostels in the vicinity. Here are a few I drooled over while I was there and which I am currently plotting my return specifically for:
Palmar Beach Lodge – I stumbled across Palmar Beach Lodge when I was first researching where to stay in Bocas del Toro and totally drooled over it. From gorgeous safari-style tents to island bungalows to a dorm room, daily yoga, other organized activities, and a beachfront location, Palmar Beach Lodge has it all. Unfortunately, it was just ever so slightly out of our budget. But no matter. When I’m out of school and have a real job™ I’m 100% coming back just to stay here.
Selina Red Frog – Until I have my real job™ (and tbh probably after), I’m also going to be drooling over Selina Red Frog. It is so ridiculously beautifully designed, and I’m kind of a major fangirl of the Selina brand (I’ve recommended their hostel La Fortuna, Costa Rica before) despite never having actually stayed in one of their hostels before. Selina Red Frog also seems to have just about everything–including a coworking space!
How to Get Back from Red Frog Beach
To get back to where you’re staying from Red Frog Beach I’d suggest taking a water taxi–especially if you’ve already done the hike to get there. To find the water taxis, take the path from Red Frog Beach to Red Frog Marina. Expect to wait a little while for one to show up. I think we were at the docks for almost half an hour before we could hitch a ride home.
Any more questions on hiking from Wizard Beach to Red Frog Beach? Leave them in the comments and I’ll be sure to get back to you!