La Gruta

Useful Information

Location: Boca Drago, near Bocas Del Toro, Isla Colon, 280 km west of Panama City.
Open: no restrictions. [2006]
Fee: free. [2006]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: bring torch
Guided tours:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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That's understatement, to call a cave La Gruta (The Cave). This one is a famous tourist destination in a country with very little tourism. It is not developed with paths or lights, there are no tours. But it is easy to visit 300 m of passage.

La Gruta is located in the center of Isla Colon. It is best reached by taxi from Bocas Del Toro, which is connected to Panama City and most other airports in Panama by daily small-plane flights.

This place is not only of touristic interest. The locals visit the cave once a year on the 3rd of July, the Dia de la Virgen del Carmen. Everyone in Bocas Del Toro makes a pilgrimage to La Gruta for a mass in honor of the Virgen del Carmen, also called Nuestra Señora de la Gruta. Two statues of the Saint are placed in front of the cave.

The cave is well known for hundreds of bats living in the cave. The islands are home to dozens of species. There are insect-eating, fruit-eating, and even fishing bats, that use their sharp-clawed feet to snag small fish which swim close to the surface. There are numerous caves inhabited by bats, and generally it is advisable to avoid them. In general it is necessary to obtain a special permit from the Panamanian government to visit bat caves.

La Gruta is entered by wading up the stream which emerges the cave.