Sailing Bocas Del Toro

Diving A Coral Kaleidoscope – Sailing Bocas Del Toro

Sailing away from Salt Creek at Isla Bastimentos was bitter sweet. We had so many epic moments that were also firsts for us. We visited our first indigenous village, went on our first jungle adventure, saw our first sloths, monkeys, poison dart frogs and went on our first scuba dive from the boat.

As beautiful as our time was, we had been away from the land of internet for over a week and it was time to get some work done. We needed to anchor somewhere within the zone of a cell phone tower to hotspot our data or find some land based wifi.

The moment we were within range of the Bocas cell phone tower our phone started pinging with sound of emails coming in. We immediately noticed one from our sailing friends s/v Waterbug. “I see that you have arrived in Panama. It looks like you are on Bastimentos Island…Red Frog Marina…good wifi…great people…very nice.” Yes, exactly what we need, the timing couldn’t be more perfect!

It never ceases to amaze me how small, connected and helpful the sailing community is. We looked up the location and sure enough it was a short walk to the most prized beaches and close to one of the best listed dive sites in the Bocas area. Score!

Location Is Everything

Access to these Panamanian Islands is way trickier than we expected.  Plus, I think the Bahamas spoiled us a bit.  Everywhere we anchored seemed “cruiser friendly” and we were always welcome at the docks with our dinghy.  Having access to land in the Bahamas was no big deal. On the opposite end, getting access to the islands here in the Bocas Del Toro archipelago isn’t so easy.

Tourism has blown up in Panama over the past ten years and with that has come a lot of opportunity to make a buck. Fair enough.  Water taxi’s take up every dock and unless you are willing to do a fair amount of bribery to ensure the safety of your dinghy, it’s best to just take a water taxi.  In other words, a marina with good access to the islands, wifi, a free water taxi and nice facilities really starts to look like the best land exploration option.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve spent plenty of days out at anchor here too and it’s been fantastic.  But, we have some long winded and epic land based adventures in mind that require a safe place to “park” the boat.  But more on that in upcoming posts (I know, what a tease!).

A big thanks to our friends of s/v Waterbug for the email and encouraging us to visit Red Frog Marina.  It really is the best access to Isla Bastimentos and hands down the nicest marina and resort we’ve ever stayed at.  A pristine floating dock, lush colorful landscapes, jungle trails to the beaches, open air showers, cicada and red frog symphonies each night…what more could we possibly ask for.

Red Frog Marina

Exploring Bocas Del Toro

Beach fires on Red Frog Beach!

Diving A Coral Kaleidoscope

Hospital Point is where the main hospital of the region was before being moved to Almirante in 1920. Apparently, there are still ruins of the old hospital and the grounds are said to be lovely for roaming about. But we were there for the scenery underwater, not above.  It is the rainy season here in Panama and depending on how much rain and river run off there is, the water visibility can get really terrible.  So, sadly we weren’t able to fully capture this magnificent environment but we had loads of fun anyway!

This area is known for its colorful, well-preserved hard and soft corals…and of course good healthy coral becomes home to a variety of other marine life.  Like these feather duster worms that can be found on almost every piece of coral.  Yes, that is a worm on the right hand side of the photo and it really is called a feather duster.

Scuba Diving Panama

Jelly fish scuba diving

Scuba Diving Panama

Snorkel/Dive Gear

Panamanian Mold…It’s a beast!

There is something extra potent about the tropical heat here.  Mold grows like I have never seen before.  Keeping the boat clean and the black spots away is becoming a full time job.  We are trying our best to keep everything clean, dry and wiped down with vinegar.  But, if anyone out there has any tips for keeping the mold at bay (and removing the mold stains) we would love to hear all about it!

Learning Spanish

If we want to get in good with the locals and really get to know them, we need to be able to have a conversation with them. Jason and I both had a Spanish class in high school but we are beyond rusty.  Then there’s our Canadians on board, Justin and Dale, who are great for French but don’t know a lick of Spanish.

We picked up the Pimsleur Spanish CD’s a long while back and finally started listening to them on the sail to Panama.  We all picked up a few new phrases but getting conversational was looking bleak.  I started searching online for an alternative and that’s when I found the Learn Spanish With Paul Noble.  There were so many glowing reviews talking about how his unique approach to learning language had them conversational in no time.  It was only a couple of bucks on Audible or free if I signed up for a 30 day trial, and even if I canceled after the trial, I still got to keep the book.  Sold…so we signed up!

Seriously, the reviews were dead on.  He does take a different approach to teaching and it’s working!  I’m not saying we’re all a conversational wiz yet but we’re making lots of progress!  Jason seems to be the quickest to pick it up and he certainly has the best dialect but Justin’s country Canadian accent is pure gold!  I have a feeling he is going to win over a lot of Panamanians with his Spanglish charm.

If all goes well, we will start on the French lessons next. That way we have a head start on our French Polynesian adventures and we may be able to woo our French customs officials with some Franglish (is that a thing?) and a smile.

Sailing Report

To see our full map with interactive pins, click here:

Sailing and diving panama

  • Dates: August 11-14, 2017
  • Nautical Miles Sailed: 17.6
  • Marina:  Red Frog Marina:  The marina can be found easily on Active Captain.
  • Cell & WiFi: We had good +movil cell phone service here and the marina wifi worked well.

Gear Used In This Video

Cameras Used to Capture This Video


Do you like our videos and posts? Find them helpful, entertaining or useful?  If so, check out our Say Thanks page to learn about different ways you can help keep videos and posts like this one coming. You’ll notice most ways don’t cost you a penny but make a big difference to us. Thank You!


Disclaimer – We are incredibly selective about the companies we choose to work with.  We only recommend things we truly like and use ourselves.  So, a big thanks to audible, we’re proud to work with you guys.

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (32)

  • Tim Nagler

    Did ya’ll make it to Cartagena, Colombia? I lived there for 7 years but now living on the Emerald coast of Florida. By the way spend my high school years in Plano, Texas.

  • Tom

    Hey Guys! Great video as usual! 🙂

    Wanted to ask about the ice cubes Jason put in the coffee glasses. Do you have a special ice maker that makes so nice and square ice cubes?

    • Curious Minion

      Hey Tom. It’s a silicone ice cube tray. You can find silicone trays in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

  • Mark

    Sorry guys,
    Mould cure: 1/4 teaspoon Oil of Cloves per litre of water in a spray bottle. Fine spray over surface, don’t soak.
    Leave for a few hours or overnight and wipe off.
    Not a few drops as previously stated.

  • Mark Waugh

    Hello Wynns,
    Clove oil kills mould. Add just a couple of drops in your bucket. Not too much, now!


    Today is my B-Day (29 Sep), I’m 74, have been following you guys for about 3-4 years (memory not the greatest) since we lived in Orgiano Italy, working for the Army. I was so sad when you went water instead of more road, but that also opened up a new world for us your fanfam to follow you into. Thank you for taking the leap, it has been eye candy of a world a lot of us will never see above or below the water line. Please do consider a trip to the waters and rivers of Europe, they are also fantastic and the side trips are an education in European and world history. See you soon in my inbox.

  • Zack Kaufer

    Hi guys, I love your videos and am learning a lot to plan my sailing life. I am a certified scuba diver and am wondering what type of compressor you have?

    • Curious Minion

      There’s a link at the end of the post:

  • Deborah Kerr

    That underwater video is like entering another world! Looks like fun! The people at that bar all looked like they were just tired and all laying back – didn’t see a lot of energy/movement – maybe due to the heat???? Does the jungle smell tropical there? Do you smell flowers or trees or huts or ??? Is it really really humid?? Do they have hotels in the area, like a city area? You guys always look really cool….I like Jason’s haircut in the later half of the video – the cafe maker es bueno!! Always look forward to your videos and visiting with you all for awhile! Keep up the great work!

  • Randy

    First this studying sailboats and following videos and blogs is your fault. I though i wanted to retire to a RV now I know a catamaran is where I want to go. I was reading the website for and came across a product they use for mold and such. I thought you might like to at least read about it. Magical Kanberra Gel at Also they have some good check lists on there website.

  • Gail Castellanos

    I love watching your adventures. All of them. I’m way behind tho because I was still watching rv stories while you were already in the Bahamas. Fun to watch a bunch at a time to catch up. I love watching these underwater vids with snorkeling and diving. Did some of that ages ago while teaching on Grand Cayman. My favorite tube worms are the Christmas Tree worms. Many colors, about 1 – 2 inches tall. You have to look close to see them. Smaller than the feather dusters. If you put your finger close to the worms they wiill pull themselves back into their tube to hide. All the corals look like beautiful flowers. My favorite fish were the French Angelfish and parrot fish.
    As for Spanish, I learned most from my Oaxacan husband. But another friend introduced me just a few weeks ago to an app called Duolingo. It is fun and makes an interactive game of learning the language. Since I was an elementary teacher for a long time, the best way to remember is to use all your senses. So learn the name of the fruit and then eat it and make a connection to remember. Have fun learning. So when you have wifi or phone, try the app. Keep doing what you’re doing. And keep sharing. I currently work at Sony, so I love sdeing the results of their cameras. You should enter some of their photo contests.

  • TX Follower

    For learning Spanish, find the course by Michel Thomas. So good you will listen to it with a glass of wine in the evening. Its like having your grandfather teach you Spanish. It works best if you have a general understanding of basic Spanish nouns and verbs (high school should be enough). Buena suerte!

  • Sarah

    Keep up the good work! I think I asked in another video but never got a notification…what is the “juice” used when you are fishing? Thx!

    • Curious Minion

      It is cheap vodka, like anesthesia.

  • T riley

    Great dive vidio. Thanks. Enjoyed it

  • Lisa Cantrell

    Loving your Panama posts. Now I am hankering to visit my niece and her man at their surf school there. (Santa Catalina which is on the west coast.)
    As for mold, having grown up on St Croix I am well familiar with it. Hate to say it but natural safe solutions will take patience and time…lots of time. I hate and don’t use bad stuff except in rare cases and this is one of them. Clorox. My mom used it pretty strong (it was the 50s who knew-we even thought cigarettes were safe!- but I learned as a nurse working with AIDS patients that a weak solution works. Try a 1:10 Clorox:water solution at first. You MAY need it stronger but try that one first. On a boat, all the things you’d do in a house don’t work so killing it is really the only solution. Good luck and fair winds and following seas guys!

    • Lisa Cantrell

      after all that about Clorox, I ran across this in my files. I have never tried it but it would be worth a try. Supposedly it prevents mold. The tea tree oil might make that true.
      2 cups white vinegar
      1 Teaspoon tea tree oil
      10 drops orange essential oil

      1-All you do is fill up an empty spray bottle with white vinegar, add the tea tree and orange oil, shake it up, and start spraying.

  • JR Thornton

    Great underwater video under such low visibility. I note that at the beginning video it seemed out of focus. Were you trying different cameras or lenses? After a few minutes the video was very sharp and focused as usual.

  • Hola Curiosity Crew,

    Loving the underwater time… gracias for taking us along. Wondering if you harvested any lobsters in Panama yet?

    Good on you all for the immersion into the culture and language …it makes the experience so much richer. You have me thinking of learning Spanish!
    Hasta la próxima…

  • Ellen Matthewson

    I have enjoyed you adventures on land and on the sea. You guys rock! I love seeing all the underwater creatures. Have fun, and keep fighting the mold!


    I’m pleased that you are logging more SCUBA time. In a year from now you may not even waste battery time when the vis is like this videos, but having these videos will give us some perspective.

    I had not heard of Isla Bastimentos until you sailed there. Thanks for taking us along for the journey.

  • Mark E. Campbell

    Mold suggestion: I’m OCD and live in Ecuador. I can hop on the next Copa flight!

  • Thanks guys for yet another great video. Wow! That coral is just breathtaking isn’t it? The standard of your photography and your overall video skills is incredibly professional and oh so watchable. You should do this for a living!! Mucho gracias for sharing from a very warm and sunny Shelburne, NS.

  • Susan Anderson

    So enjoying your sailing adventures and the videos are amazing!
    Look forward to each new adventure you post.
    Stay safe, sail safe!

  • Harold George Hofmann Jr

    Your comment about spending hurricane season in Panama was very enlightening. There are hundreds if not thousands of sailors who will take stock in that response. I’m sure you’ve heard of the devastating season in the Caribbean and the Keys.
    I love your immersion in these travels. Remember that there are four preferred learning methods, see, hear, say and write and a mixture will make your learning permanent . (I’m an old Master Training Specialist) Experiential learning facilitator.
    You four make us proud. Your exposure to others in the world bolster who we are.
    Good on ya, George

  • Looks gorgeous! I am meh on Panama because I heard giant spider stories about the mainland and because we are so in love with Belize that we can’t stop going. But these photos are changing my mind….


Post a Comment