Red Frog Beach, Bocas del Toro, Panama – are there really red frogs? yes!


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.

Red Frog Beach, Panama

Red Frog Beach, Panama. Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

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

Red Frog Beach, Panama

Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

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.

Red Frog Beach, Panama

Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

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.

Strawberry Dart Frog, Panama

Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

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.

Strawberry Dart Frog, Panama

Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

And then another.

And then a whole bunch more.

Strawberry Dart Frog, Panama

Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

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.

For now.

Strawberry Dart Frog, Panama

Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit


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.

Isla Bastimentos, Panama

Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

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.


More on Panama:

Portobelo – UNESCO sea fortress hit by pirates, pirates more pirates


My favourite beaches:

Anse Source d’Argent, Seychelles

Beaches of the Freetown Peninsula, Sierra Leone

Secret Lagoon Beach, Philippines

Maracas Bay, Trinidad and Tobago

Marina Beach, UAE

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