Going by the name, I assumed there must once have been red frogs at Red Frog Beach. I guessed there might even be a few frogs left, if they hadn’t all been wiped out by urban development and climate change.
Finding the frogs, I assumed, would involve hours of dedicated searching.
I was willing to put in the time, but not until I’d spent a day or so soaking up the beach.
Red Frog Beach
Eventually, when I’d had my fill of the sun’s rays, I asked one of the staff members at the beachside bungalow village if he’d ever seen any red frogs around.
Of course, dude, he said. They’re all over the place. You just need to know where to look.
He walked to the nearest garden bed and pointed at the leaf litter.
There are probably some right here, he said. There’s one. Look.
Sure enough, he was pointing at a red frog – or Strawberry Poison Dart Frog, as they are more accurately known.
The frog was less than a metre from the edge of the path I’d walked along at least ten times a day.
Within thirty seconds I’d spotted another.
And then another.
And then a whole bunch more.
The frogs are very small, and they are often half concealed by leaf litter, which means you are unlikely to spot them by chance.
But they are there.
Practical information and how to reach Red Frog Beach:
Red Frog Beach is on Isla Bastimentos, a ten-minute boat ride from the tourist town of Bocas del Toro in the westernmost reaches of Panama. More transport info here.
If you want to find the frogs, then you just need to know that they aren’t on the sand; they are in the leaf litter in the wet forest immediately behind the beach. Ask the staff at the bungalow village for some tips on where to find them.
NOTE: Be careful moving around Isla Bastimentos. When we visited (2016), there was a machete-wielding local who was mugging tourists on the bush trails. Accessing Red Frog Beach from the jetty shown above was fine, but I’d get some advice before going much further afield.