Filthy Friday: Bocas del Toro’s Island Party Crawl

Everyone loves a great party and if you’re planning on being in Bocas del Toro make sure you’re there on a Friday. Now you’re wondering what’s so special about Friday’s in Bocas thanks to the phrase ‘TGIF’. Filthy Friday is what’s so special about Fridays in Bocas. Bocas del Toro is by itself a great experience but Filthy Friday makes it even better. Filthy Friday is Central America’s first and only island-hopping day-party experience. This party takes place every Friday at three scenic locations across three islands in Bocas del Toro’s tropical paradise off the coast of Panama. If day drinking, dancing, and meeting people from all over the world is your thing then this is the party for you. With free shots at the beginning, it doesn’t take long for the party to get in full swing and you’re guaranteed to have a thoroughly awesome time. Come rain or come shine, this party is always on! 

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The Party Experience

The Filthy Friday party experience starts at around 11:30 a.m. and continues until 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. and is coupled with upbeat music, electrifying vibes, strong drinks, picturesque sceneries and awesome people from all over the globe. 

The bar crawl starts on the main island Isla Colon and will take you to a total of three bars by the time the party’s over.  If you’re wondering how you’ll be ‘hopping’ from bar to bar between islands, no worries, the party organizers have you covered. Boat transportation is included in your ticket and will bring you from one bar to the next. Once you arrive in Bocas it won’t be long before you hear about Filthy Friday as this is province’s most talked about party. From flyers to branded t-shirts and in some cases temporary tattoos on butt cheeks, this party is advertised everywhere. Filthy Friday is the party of all parties to attend and has the reputation to back it up. If you enjoy a good party, you must dedicate one entire Friday to this boisterous event. The festivities comprises three out of the nine main islands located in Bocas: Isla Colon, Isla Solarte and Isla Cerenero.

The first round up spot is Barco Hundido on Isla Colon. Here you’ll get a free T-shirt and temporary Filthy Friday tattoo for those who don’t mind. As the excitement builds, party-goers are loaded into boats and transported to destination number two: The Blue Coconut on Isla Solarte. This is where things get wild as your competitive skills are tested by the party organizers, expect float races and other fun activities. Just before the sun sets, you’ll make your last stop on the party carousel at Aqua Lounge on Isla Carenero. The competition champions are named here and everyone is invited to dance the night away. For the next level party-goers who haven’t had enough, the unofficial after-party is at Selina Hostel. Tickets include transport between the three islands and can be bought online or at their outlet in Bocas Town. Standard tickets cost $35 while VIP costs $75 at the time of this writing.

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Destination #1 – Barco Hundido, Isla Colon 

The party begins at Barco Hundido on Isla Colon and this venue also serves as the initial meeting place for the party goers. This bar/restaurant is located on main street and has a dock opposite Isla Carenero. It is also just a few steps from the local water taxi dock. Here you’ll get a free T-shirt and a temporary Filthy Friday tattoo if you’re up for it. If you ever thought of getting a tattoo on your butt, this is the perfect time try, if you’re thinking it might be too risqué, rest assured placing the tattoo on the backside is very popular among the ladies at the party. Even though this stop is advertised as lasting from 11:30 a.m to 1 p.m. fret not if the venue is almost empty, some people are just waking up. You’re most likely to get free shots at this bar as the excitement builds and music roars throughout the town.

TIP: Eat a satisfying meal in order to balance all the drinks you’re going to have, this bar has food at great prices and it’s never a good idea to drink on an empty stomach. You can also get your buzz started at Barco Hundido, drinks are way cheaper than the next bar.

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Destination #2 – Blue Coconut, Isla Solarte

With the engines warmed up and the crowd in a good mood, party goers are loaded into boats and transported to destination number two: The Blue Coconut. Expect to arrive at this location at around 2 p.m., yes we know we stayed longer at the first venue but this is how it goes when you’re on island time. 

The Blue Coconut is a floating bar with a thatch roof that features a huge dance floor and outdoor bar space as well as a roped off swimming area. Couples who feel a little frisky sometimes hang out under the dock, at least that’s what we heard! The boat ride over will include a lot of hooting and hollering as the occupants egg on each passing boat with singing, shouting and laughing. The journey will definitely be a part of the fun.

This stop is where things get wild as people dance in the water, on the stage or do the limbo. For those who needed a little liquid courage, the drinks start taking effects as inhibitions are gone with the wind. Your competitive skills might also be tested by the party hosts in blow-up float race, swimming and other fun activities.

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Destination #3 – Aqua Lounge, Isla Carenero

Just before the sun sets, you’ll make your last stop on the party carousel at Aqua Lounge on Isla Carenero from around 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Aqua Lounge serves as a party venue, restaurant and a hostel. While the party slowly comes down from its climax, the crowd will be filled with euphoria knowing they made the best decision to attend Filthy Friday. As the biggest of the three venues, there will be a huge dance party and swimming taking place, you may even see fire dancers. At Aqua Lounge the fun continues like it will never end as those who are still standing enjoy beer pong competitions. Finally, the competition champions will be announced and everyone is invited to dance the night away. This is also the perfect venue to grab something to eat if you have been drinking for 8 hours non-stop and haven’t eaten since leaving the first venue.

IMPORTANT: Bear in mind, you will have to find your way back to your accommodation or next stop, however it’s easier than you think. Simply get a water taxi from Aqua Lounge (where the dock faces the main island) to Isla Colon, this should cost around US$1.

If by some miracle you are still standing wide eyed and pumped, the unofficial after-party is at Selina. After a whole day of partying, this is for the next level party-goers who haven’t had enough, some of us will find extreme satisfaction in just going to bed and hoping not to wake up with a hangover.

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How much does the party cost?

Standard tickets cost $35 while VIP costs $75. You can purchase tickets online via Filthy Friday website or at their shop in Bocas Town (across from Tequila Republic). Additionally, there will be people selling tickets on the main street days leading up to the party. You may also get your tickets on the day of the event if you’re feeling spontaneous. On Friday morning tickets go on sale at 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Filthy Friday store in Bocas Town. Tickets bought on the Filthy Friday website must be redeemed at the store in Bocas Town where you can also collect your wristband and tank top. On Thursdays tickets are sold from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m on E Avenue, directly in front of Selina Hostel. Spaces are limited to 500 party-goers so if attending the party is a must for you get your ticket early, especially during peak season.

Tickets include entry to all bars, a complimentary Filthy Friday branded tank top, a drawstring bag for your belongings, a temporary tattoo, maybe a few shots and transportation between the three island venues. You will need to find your way from the last stop (Aqua Lounge) on your own.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT attempt to swim to the main island from Aqua Lounge! Even though it’s a short distance there are a number of boats going back and forth between islands and even worse, it’s night, you might be tipsy and the boat captains may not see you in the water. 

What to bring?

Let’s start with what you don’t need to bring. Bringing valuables is a no-no, it goes without saying. This is pretty much a water party and you could easily lose your items in all the debauchery that’s about to ensue. If you need to bring your phone, make sure it is in a waterproof case and you can secure it to your body. You will need to bring cash, it is likely the bars will only accept cash. Also bring your room key if you can’t find anywhere to stash it. Anything else you decide to bring, make sure you can afford to lose it. If you have to bring items like your passport, phone etc. there is a Bag Check area at the Blue Coconut and at Aqua Lounge that costs only US$1 where the staff will keep your belongings safe. Just remember to collect your stuff before each party ends. Food is available at all venues and your spend for the day can be as much as US$50 or more if you’re a heavy spender.

If you like a good party, Filthy Friday is worth the adventure!

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