I took my son to Bocas. Because of the airline schedules we had to stop in Panama City, which is a somewhat sad place. With casinos and all the attendant vice.
But arriving in Bocas was like entering a different world altogether. Bright Caribbean pastel colors. No road systems, just small boats and many islands. The locals are apparently all descendants of freed slaves who preferred to stay on the Caribbean side of Panama rather than the Pacific side.
And the surf!!! We took a half hour boat ride to a place called Paunches. Three peaks, two rights and one left. Two local kids and no one else. 6 feet faces, pristine. Crystal clear Caribbean water. And best of all there were nice channels to paddle back out without getting overrun by whitewater. Then it started to rain, and the spot took on this surreal beauty. It was a moment.