The 5 Best Places for Live Music in Bocas del Toro, Panama!


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The 5 Best Places for Live Music in Bocas del Toro, Panama!

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This article was researched by Keenan Hansen from Oregon with contributions and additional information from Izzlas Musica and Nicholas Correa, editor of The BocasBreeze, our local newspaper. Keenan is a professional musician that favors the guitar but also sings and plays the piano. He's been accepted to the Berkley College of Music but is currently taking a year off to travel, play live music and learn from other musicians before formalizing his artistic career.

Nothing touches the soul and gets a party going as quality live music in the Caribbean does. Feel the Bocas flow and don't miss these 5 amazing venues where local artists and others from abroad take Bocas' nightlife to a whole different level with tunes that will lift you up and make you hit the dance floor with no inhibitions.

5. Bubba's House

Bubba’s House is a hostel and restaurant, on the island of Bastimentos, a 10 minute boat ride from Bocas Town. It's located right on the water with a beautiful view of the rest of the island stretching out into the tropical ocean. It's a tranquil place in the day; a great place to hang out, go for a swim, get some food. But at night, Bubba’s Bar comes alive with music and dancing! I've played there twice myself. There's no other place like it on the whole island! When the music starts, it fills up the whole archipelago, people hear it, and they start flooding in. Before the second song ends, people are dancing and hanging out and you lose track of time. A great place to check out if you're in the mood for a few beers, great food, great music, on a remote island, in the middle of the unknown Caribbean. They have live music most nights there. But I like to go on Mondays. That is when they bring the bands!

4. El Último Refugio

Money is no issue tonight? "Let’s treat ourselves" you say. El Ultimo Refugio is the place to go! Its menu is one of the most versatile, exoctic, and delectable on the island, with fresh local produce and seafood. As well as having great food they have live music almost every night! Acoustic solo stuff mostly. But an absolute delight to see and listen to over a meal for the ages. They bring the best singers and guitar players in, because the place is very intimate, and they know big tips when people can hear and listen quality music. It's located at the edge of Bocas Town on Isla Colon, overlooking the bay with blinking lights on top of the catamarans, floating in the darkness at night. Muy tranquilo y muy bonito!

#ultimorefugio #bocasmusic #trombone #livemusic #losvenezolanos

A photo posted by Ultimo Refugio (@ultimorefugio) on

"Best food on the island, and a great place to play!" - Isis Bordetas, local musician

3. Capitán Caribe

Capitan Caribe is my personal favorite spot for food and live music in Bocas. Let me start with the food. I have never tried anything like it, and I won’t need to try anything else. These guys have burgers and burritos that will blow your head away. The care and ingredients they put into this menu is so creative and delicious! The first time I tried it was a dream! This place is totally unique and has options for everyone in the family! It's top quality food from top quality people! Owned and operated by Luis, Jorge and their awesome crew, make sure to pay it a visit.

Onto the music, Capitan Caribe is one of the chillest spots you will find in Bocas. I have had the pleasure to play there many times. It's a tropical humble place that just makes you relax and feel good. All the local players know and love this place! Everyone just comes here when they can, sets up, and just plays the best Island Music you ever heard. When you visit this place, you are in the right place, at the right time.

2. Munchie's Burgerbar

Munchie’s is the best burger joint in town! Located on the Main Street of Isla Colon with an ample balcony perfect for people watching, this is the place to go if you're in mood for food, dancing and freestyle. Yes, the mic is up for anyone willing to launch some lyrics and many of the locals will take the opportunity to denounce politicians and Panama's struggles. It's famous not only for its burgers but it also hosts some of the best musicians in Bocas! They have salsa, rock, funk, acoustic, EDM. Whatever you feel like, I'm sure if you pass by Munchie's they will have you on your feet and your belly feeling amazing.

1. The Bookstore Bar

"I Feel Good". Bookstore Bar. Bocas del Toro, Panama. Sept 8th, 2015. Come every Tuesday 9pm for more 'feel good' moments...

Posted by Bocas Bookstore/Bar aka Loco Dave's on Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Bookstore is a is a rock joint! A completely unique bar. With some books. The manager Nico is a big fan of live music and a very talented musician and performer himself! When they have a show going on the place is packed. As well as rock, the classics and modern rock, they have all kinds of musicians playing. I went the other night and saw the famous Calipso Joe play. People were also enjoying ping pong, drinking beers, dancing, and some were even having ice cream from the parlor upstairs. This is a great place to go for cheap beers, great music, and a great night. Most shows are between Fridays and Sundays.

Need even more? Sure. Head over to Om Café every other Wednesday and Friday evening, or try the Calypso Cantina at the Bocas Marina on Fridays too. Or if you're up for some karaoke action, then The PUB on Saturday evenings is for you.

Who Creates the Live Music in Bocas?

In case you're wondering about the musicians who make it happen, let's get to know some of them:

  • Izzlas from Bocas Town and Chalice from Bastimentos are in charge of the Reggae and Dancehall Scene. There's also movement of Urban Music by locals that includes King Blak King, Rony Stephens and Joseph Anderson
  • Bastimentos Beach Boys, Los Mixtos de Bastimentos, and Calypso Joe, all offer you a taste of the real Caribbean flow with Calypso, Reggae, Salsa and are the real example of Bocas' own music
  • Rice & Beans: local band led by Enrique who mix it up with Calypso, Salsa and Modern Rock too
  • Fusión Latina, one of the most active bands, is formed by Panamanians Alfredo Jurado Martínez (vocals), Jose Santana and Tony Velaquez (guitar), Daniel Obando (trumpet), and Joe Gutierrez (keyboard). They play all over town and offer one of the most memorable Latin/Caribbean musical experiences that Bocas has to offer.
  • Bookstore All-Star Band: is a group of local bocatoreños, expats and transient musicians represented by USA, Switzerland, Canada, Guatemala, Guyana, Spain, Argentina and Costa Rica. The grand percussionist Yeyo Montana, born on 5th Street in Bocas Town, and who's played along Carlos Santana in Mexico, and Ruben Blades, is part of this band along with Nicholas Correa, who manages the venue too.
  • Island Time Drifters: sailors Patrick Horton and Andy Crawford performing Classical Rock and Roll
  • And the local DJs are represented by DJ Bull, DJ Leo, DJ Dillo from Red Eye Studios, DJ Magic, DJ Coopershoot, DJ Fat and DJ Blunt-e

Estoy contento por la noticia de que Caypso Joe Brown, de Bastimento recién sacó su primer disco solista. ¡Hay calypso panameño para rato! gracias a El NIDO - the NEST y a Lukas Bell. Este es un fragmento del documental "Calipso" de Gerardo Maloney, donde lo vi por primera vez antes de conocerlo en el Festival Internacional de Calipso - Costa Rica. Para mí estas son las estrellas que vale la pena ver en concierto!

Posted by Ramon Morales on Monday, November 21, 2016

And if this wasn't enough, Bocas is blessed with many transient bands and musicians, some of which keep coming back such as the Argentinian rock band Trilhas, Wanaku Beat and the Soulfire Project, which is a group of musicians who've been here 4 times already and travel around the world in vegetable oil powered van.


♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ pobre payaso, ríe por no llorar, pues su tristeza nunca la pudo reflejar vive la vida como un gran circo en acción..... Roger la gente se ríe de ti.....
jajajajaaaaa♪ ♫ ♩

LEs esperamos hoy en Rocks Paseo El Carmen, Santa Tecla, El Salvador!!!

Posted by The SoulFire Project on Saturday, October 3, 2015

So there you have a sampler of what Bocas' live music scene has on offer. Go ahead and find your own venues and live performances!

And please make sure to support locally owned businesses that make an effort to showcase the local culture and vibe, and more importantly who support the local economy by hiring local island staff to run the nightlife show!



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Search our blog if you're visiting Panama! From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while in our country! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.

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