Bocas del Toro

Morning smoothie on the way to the dive site in Bocas del Toro, Panama

La Buga Dive and Surf, Bocas del Toro, Panama

I had heard that Bocas was the Cabarete in The Dominican Republic, but of Panama, so I definitely had to check it out. I took an overnight bus from Panama City to Bocas which took about 10 hours and had such unbelievably cold A/C going the entire time. When I got off the bus, I took a taxi to a kind of river boat, which dropped me, a couple of tourists, and some locals off at the main pier in Bocas by around 7am. I hadn’t booked a room, but I had done a wee bit of research, so I sort of knew where I wanted to go.  As usual, there were a slew of Panamanians working for Tourism Panama eager to take you to the hotels of their commission-related-choice waiting for me. As it turns out the hotel I wanted was closed that week for renovations, but my new best friend who greeted me took me to Hotel Laguna across from Parque Bolivar (which I had read about) and was very happy with.  I stayed there for 6 days. Everything in Bocas was walking distance and had a nice vibe to it with the young travelling types and older hippy living types all mingled into one.  The one main difference between say, Cabarete, DR and Bocas in Panama was the fact that while Cabarete is right on the beach, Bocas is right ON the water quite literally.  The bars and restaurants are built up on pilings that hover over the water.  If you are looking for a beach in Bocas you have to go out of town to find it.

With regards to scuba diving, I ended up diving with a pretty cool dive shop called La Buga Dive and Surf; all the people I met at the dive shop were amazing and interesting people. This Caribbean side diving reminded me of my other experience scuba diving on the southern Caribbean side of The Dominican Republic. It was warm and pretty with colourful corals and tropical fish. I did 4 nice dives with La Buga and saw some lovely tropical fish; however, I wouldn’t say that this diving made any real impression on me.

Read about my experience diving on the other side of the country on Isla Contadora.