Bocas del Toro – diving

Diving bocas
Bocas del Toro Province, Panama


1 litre of water later and I made it by 8.30am to the dive shop.

Bocas is not renowned for diving, but how can I judge unless I try it for myself.

So I am going out for a morning of diving!

We didn’t end up leaving until about 9.30am and spent about 20 minutes riding across in the boat to a reef near to a neighbouring island of Isla Solarte and the dive site called Coral garden.

Very original name there. I had a nice small group – one other woman and two guides! The other woman wasn’t good, so I stayed away and ended up with the second guide to myself.

The visibility wasn’t great – about 10 meters, it was silty. However, that doesn’t bother me. Some of my favourite dive sites have very similar conditions. The water was 28 degrees and it was actually fairly similar to Mabul diving.

However one very stark difference – the abundance of life.

Or lack thereof.

Just nothing. It’s so weird. I saw – 1 lion fish, 1 puffer fish, several cleaning shrimp, a red banded cleaning shrimp, a jelly fish, a small school of baby parrot fish. That’s it.

In over an hour. That’s like nothing!!


After a relaxing sit on the boat warming up, our second dive was back nearer towards Bocas town, at a site called Playground. Not quite sure why it has that name (there were no sunken play structures!). This was fairly similar.

However I did see something I have never seen before – a slipper lobster!


I wasn’t desperate to see one of those. But even after over 1,000 dives it’s nice to see something new! The air fills of the tanks were not good. The air was slightly oily and tasted horrible – usually when a compressor filter has not been changed. I told the dive centre and they weren’t bothered at all. Oh well. So overall I wasn’t too impressed.

Not bothered about doing any more diving here, but it’s always good to just have a look!

I barely had 5 minutes to run back to the hotel, get some dry clothes, dump my dive stuff and run back to the main street.

I was joining the group to go on an adventure around the island for the afternoon. I then realised that it was 1.30pm and I had not eaten anything all day. So ran to the supermarket and got half a pineapple. Pineapples here are so delicious! To get around the island, we hired ATVs (all terrain vehicles), a cross between a motorbike and a mini 4×4 quad bike.

We were given helmets that just fell off and some limited instructions on how to drive them, then sent on our way!

We drove up through the town, then up on the eastern coastal road as far as the road went. We passed by some beaches, but mostly just nothing! Then the road ended and the sandy track began!


We headed up as far as we could, stopping at a couple of beaches along the way. Every time we went through a puddle, I got a bit muddy. They are also not the most comfy of things! At the most northerly end was Playa Bluff – a pretty golden sand beach surrounded by nothing but jungle. And a beach bar.


I had some coconut water – nice and cheap – $1 for a large glass. And sat on the beach for a while. We turned back and headed the way we had come, then turned off onto a jungle road which ran through the centre of the island. It was so beautiful. Just nothing everywhere. Just green. The roads are not that good. Lots of holes and puddles and sharp corners. It’s actually rather scary on the bikes!

We made it all the way to the western side to a mini sea-side resort of Boca del Drago, which was full of local people on a day out! After a brief stop, we headed back to Bocas Town.

I was surprised at how large the island was. Half way back, it began to pour with rain. We got soaked! It was 5.30pm when we got back – that’s a lot of driving! Quick shower and out for dinner. We went to a nearby restaurant out over the sea. It was pretty. I had lentils and rice. Not the most exciting of meals! Food is expensive on the island, one drink and dinner cost $15. I didn’t do much else this evening, just sat in the hotel. What a busy day!



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