As a result of the global economy, the tiny island of Isla Solarte in Bocas del Toro, Panama, is feeling the burden of a drop in tourism. Reduced travel to the Bocas area is contributing to lower property prices, which could present an opportunity for investors. See the following article from International Living for more on this.
Steve Hartwig lives on an island that’s approximately three miles long. He leads a quiet life, running a small Bed-and-Breakfast. He’ll tell you there isn’t much to do—that is, outside of contemplating the bright blue water and the many species of rare and colorful birds. And that’s just fine with him.
On a quiet day, Steve may send his guests on a tour…after making them a tropical island breakfast. He’ll then take a 10-minute boat ride to the “main island.” He’ll do some shopping and then head to a pub on the water. The waves wash up on the shore and the cool breeze rustles through the deep green jungle growth and spindly palms.
Locals call out to Steve, some waving from the bar and some shuffling over to give him a peck on the cheek or pat on the back (the local “hello”). He is content with this acceptance and affection from his new friends. “The locals are probably my favorite part of life here,” he says. He speaks little Spanish, but gets along just fine with his own brand of sign language and a limited Spanish vocabulary.
The tiny island where Steve lives is Isla Solarte, one of over a hundred that form the Bocas del Toro archipelago. The “main island” is Isla Colon, the site of the provincial capital. The part-mainland, part-island province of Bocas del Toro is on Panama’s Caribbean coast—some 300 miles northwest of Panama City.
Best known for its islands, Bocas is Panama’s most beautiful province. The crystalline waters rival those of the Bahamas (without all the violent crime and sprawling hotel compounds). From the perfect sands of Zapatilla Island to the starfish-strewn Boca del Drago, this area boasts a jaw-dropping amount of pristine beaches.
Bocas also boasts a unique cultural diversity. Indigenous tribes govern reserve lands here, while the people of Bocas town are mostly of African or Afro-Caribbean descent. Today many locals speak an English-Spanish patois (though many speak standard English, too).
Right now, due to the global economy, travel to Bocas is down and the small, tourism-based economy has been affected. Some of the smaller hotels are hurting, as are some upscale restaurants that are geared toward tourists, but too expensive for most locals. Perhaps because of this, property prices have started to come down.
You can get a two-bedroom house on the water for around $200,000. Something special—made from solid hardwood, a big 2,700-square-foot house on an acre lot with ocean views—would cost closer to $500,000.
This article has been republished from International Living.