sailing and diving panama

Heavenly Days – Sailing, Diving & Boatloads of Fish

It’s been spectacular, but the time has come to move along.  We’ve provisioned up, have our zarpe (that’s boat lingo for departure clearance) and we’re heading out of the Bocas del Toro archipelago. There are 170-nautical miles between us and our next region of Panama.  Before we officially say adios Bocas, there are a few tiny islands we need to check out first.

This region of Panama is famous for it’s massive array of coral and underwater life.  And wouldn’t you know some of the best dive sites are right along our route!

Whaddya think?  After all that, our eyes lite up like Christmas bulbs when we finally got to put out the genoa and kick off the engines.  Talk about icing on the cake!

The sailing lifestyle is full of extremes and is certainly not for the faint of heart.  Some days it seems nothing goes right, everything is broken, and mother nature is out to destroy us.  But…then there are days like these.  Heavenly days with calm seas, wind in our sails, epic diving and boatloads of fresh fish.  Past woes melt into the horizon with the sun and all we can think about is how incredible life is today.

heavenly sailing

sailing around the worldHere’s the scoop on our two underwater exploration sites for anyone headed this way!


When we sailed over to Salt Creek a few weeks back we thought we were in the National Marine Park, so you can understand our surprise when we first hopped into the water.  There was zero visibility and the reefs weren’t too impressive.  This time we’re anchored 3 miles southeast in Cayos Zapatilla and we’re welcomed with clear water, soft sand beaches and what appears to be an extremely healthy underwater world.  The islands are uninhabited, the waters are protected, there’s no fishing or spearing and we didn’t see any trash.  This is definitely our kinda place.

We found the elk horn coral and lots of sea-life mid-way between the two Zapitilla cays (Zap 1 and Zap 2 as the locals say).  For the awesome swim through caves we dropped the anchor on a patch of sand off the east side of Zap 2 and we swam north past the break.  What was supposed to be an hour of snorkeling easily turned into five…so much for taking time to lounge on the sandy beach!

We’re still not 100% clear on pricing here, we were charged $10 per person for our one day.  We weren’t charged extra for anchoring.  When we visited the Zapatilla park office in Bocas Town they said the cost should be $10 per person and $20 for the boat and we could stay for 3-4 days without paying additional.  Sadly, we only had time to spend one day here.  Our winds and sea-swell were predicted to be extremely light which meant prime conditions for SCUBA diving at our next stop:  Tiger Rock.

freediving and sailing

best snorkeling in panmana

sailing and diving in Panama

sailing and diving in Panama

Tiger Rock

We read that Tiger Rock is one of the top dives in Panama, but it’s nearly impossible to visit as a tourist.  It’s a tiny underwater mountain surrounded by deep ocean, so anchoring is a challenge.  If there’s any swell or wind, the sea state can make it impossible for smaller boats to make it out and the visibility drastically goes down. Then, there’s a steady 1-2 knot current that rips past Tiger Rock that could cause a diver to get swept out to sea.  But, we did our research and planned our sail to make sure we had the best conditions to dive this rarely-visited gem.

  • On the charts we scouted a sub 100’ spot to anchor immediately south of the unnamed island with the tower on it. (We have over 200’ of chain and 200’ of line so anchoring in these depths wouldn’t be a problem for a calm afternoon anchorage.)
  • We arrived 1.5 hours before slack-high tide to minimize current flow.
  • High tide was close to noon, so the sun would be directly overhead for maximum visibility.
  • Winds and swell have been minimal for 48+ hours allowing any floating sediment to fall to the sea floor providing optimal underwater clarity.

What an amazing dive!  Considering this is our first big dive from the boat it was a little nerve wrecking.  In the end our planning paid off and we were all rewarded with a spectacular 360-degree wall dive and a dinner fit for kings, go team lion fish!  This experience reminds us yet again:  Don’t let fear hold you back from exploring…if you plan well, anything is possible.

sailing and diving in Panama

sailing and diving in Panama

Tiger Rock dive site

There is an anchorage about 5 miles away in Laguna de Bluefield, and we considered sticking around for another day, but the excitement from this dive had us even more stoked for our next stop:  Isla Escudo de Veraguas.  Chatter among the local sailors is that its the best kept secret in Panama.

There is an anchorage about 5 miles away in Laguna de Bluefield, and we considered sticking around for another day, but the excitement from this dive had us even more stoked for our next stop:  Isla Escudo de Veraguas.  Chatter among the local sailors is that its the best kept secret in Panama.

The Crew

Dale and Justin (aka DJDives on Instagram and YouTube) are our first Patreon’s aboard and now we’ve welcomed Dan!  We offer up crew opportunities to our Patreons as a way to say thanks for their support, and allow others to experience this unique traveling lifestyle with us for a short stint.

Sailing Report

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

Sailing Bocas Del Toro

  • Dates: 9/23 – 9/25
  • Nautical Miles Sailed: 48 nm (16.2 nm to Zapatilla, 8.1 to Tiger Rock, 24.1 to Escudo)
  • Anchorage:  Zapatilla was an excellent anchorage, sandy bottom and well protected.  There was a $10 per person park fee.
  • Cell & WiFi:  There is no cell phone reception and no services as its an uninhabited island.  We used our Iridium Go for weather updates and communication:


Wondering what ____ was in the video?  We’ve listed most everything below but if we missed a gadget, piece of gear or tidbit of information you wanted to know about let us know.  Drop us a note in the comment box below!

Our Pre and Post Sail Checklist –

Sailing Orientation –  Stay tuned for a post on this subject.

Sailing Specific Gear

Snorkel/Dive Gear

Underwater Cameras





Cameras Used to Capture This Video

Full Review Of All Our Camera Gear:



Thank you for being a part of our journey!  We’re able to share these adventures because of viewers like you. If you like what you see, check out our Say Thanks page to learn about different ways you can help keep the videos and posts flowing. You’ll notice most ways don’t cost you a penny but make a big difference to us.  Thank You!

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 (38)

  • Doreen

    Just WOW! I’m working back through the sailing videos from the beginning since I started watching part way through. As others have said, your videos keep getting better and better, and there was so much to see in this one. At one time I thought I wanted to be an oceanographer but never left the Midwest—if I would have realized there was such a thing as a fresh water biologist life might have been different. Now you all allow me to get my underwater fix in. Appreciate all the videos, even the work ones. It reminds us all that life isn’t always fun and games, whether in sticks and bricks, in an RV, or on a boat. Keep nudging us all to adventure!

  • Aubrey

    Just gotta say, Dan is really attractive!

  • Walter Gameiro

    Hello guys, Have fun and carry on with your dream.
    Fatima and Walter Gameiro
    Fort Worth TX

  • Joe

    My brother and I are at the early stages of the same basic adventure. We own a pan oceanic 46 located in Cartagena, Spain. I went through the canal last year at this time. Left St. Thomas around November 9th and arrived in Ventura County, California on December 23, 3016. We stopped and had work done on his 43ft. Cat at Shelter Bay Marina. An excellent little marina with a pretty active and friendly live aboard population. I’ll be happy to watch your progress. Buenas suerte, Joe

  • Barb

    Is it possible for Jason to shave his neck? Or maybe there is a reason why this is not possible. I think it would look so much better in the videos. Just my opinion that I’ve been meaning to write you about for quite awhile now. My New Years suggestion!
    This last video was wonderful – high on life. Merry Christmas and here’s to fair winds in the New Year.

  • Wow! Awesomesauce! Amazeballs! Yay!

  • Deborah Kerr

    Beautiful underworld!! Thanks for taking us along – you are a fun bunch!! 🙂

  • Jamie Dillon

    WOW!! That was awesome! The drone footage and the colorful underwater shots were superbly executed. You guys get better all the time, Jason seems giddy with the lifestyle and it is both infectious and cool! However, the yellow “shirt lift” would be muchly appreciated by the female crew! LOL. Glad to see my fellow Canadians enjoying the great weather. Currently, -13 C in Sarnia, Ontario- Canada and 70 KM winds. Safe travels folks- Also Nikki and Jason, don’t sweat the patreon drama! we contribute because it is friggin awesome!! Take care- Jamie

  • Misha

    Think maybe you could call that Vid the essence of freedom from modern life & all the restrictions we all live by, very pro Vid I think were all diving with you. Not so sure I would have used the Quad boobs pic of Nikki but the background was so fabulous. Starting a collection for a new diving Bra that contains the flesh in case it frightens the fish s.

  • Scott Helmann

    You guys Rock! Love the videos and getting to share with your adventures!

  • Great to see you having such fun, but of course you’ll understand if it makes us a bit wistful, too. ?

  • Roger B

    Awesome video. Again, I really enjoy your drone videos showing the big picture from elevation. The colors are so vivid and now I’ll enjoy your video on the big screen TV for a larger experience. Thank you.

  • Gorgeous underwater video! The coral and fish were so vibrant. I felt like I was right there with you. It might inspire a new painting. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing,

  • mary vancompernolle

    Wow, that was an incredible dive. Lots of fish I have never seen before and the water is so clear! I hope you get these beautiful opportunities at least once a week!

    I think Jason is reverting back to childhood – I’m glad we didn’t see a full moon!

    Be safe!

  • Penny

    Hey kids. What an amazing time you are still having! We miss you!!! Life is still good on Long Island Bahamas!!!
    bahamamama penny
    bahamapoppa john

  • Scott

    This link is the Wikipedia article on lionfish, which explains your comment about “saving the ocean”. Maybe you should have spent a few days as a service project? 🙂 I expect you were on a timeline to get to the Canal.

  • Heather Stewart

    Yeah, your RV ain’t gonna get ya THERE, eh? ;). Wow…amazing dive! Nice to see the coral actually very alive and everything so vibrant. I’m a newbie diver that would have to relearn…but only in warm water! Learned in Bali on Nusa Lembongan…hadn’t planned on it and didn’t quite get to Open Water, but did better than I thought I would and so much fun…I was envying you that dive! Yeah, kill those evil lion fish; I just didn’t realize they were that edible…good to know!

  • Robert Franks

    Thanks so much for this excellent video. As someone mentioned earlier, they are getting better and better. We have done a marathon weekend of watching your videos, and getting caught up on your sailing travels. One question though, did you make a video of going through the canal? We haven’t seen that yet, or did we miss it? Envious of you guys, but so happy for you. Safe travels.

    • Curious Minion

      Canal transit video is coming. Videos are always a month or 2 behind real life.

  • Sanford Simmons and Linda Simmons with the Ham Radio Antenna on our Monaco Cayman pusher.

    Quartzsite will never seem great again after watching your adventures. Linda and I met you two at a campground near San Francisco when you had your first Monaco Motor home. You two are living the dream.

    Best regards,


  • Phil Schneider

    As usual! Fantastic! Wish I could start over. Did pretty good though. Safe travels!

  • Connie Woods

    Drunk on Life, pretty cool area, that’s for sure.
    Awesomeness!!! Great to see all those smiles, great video!! Big Love!!

  • Jack macdonald

    Can you refill your scuba tanks onboard, or do you need to go to a dive shop? Hope to see Curiosity on our dock someday.

    • Curious Minion

      They are filled onboard with an Oceanus Portable 3-Stage Compressor

  • Mike

    Wow, what an incredible dive. I think you saw at least half of the sea critters in one spot. And you timed it perfectly it seems. The fact that it’s so hard for the average tourist to get to is why it’s so pristine and natural.
    Keep up the great videos.

    Have fun and stay safe

  • Great video! I have been following your blog for awhile now. When I first started reading I didn’t know the back story so I started at the beginning. Thanks for always reminding me to dream bigger!

  • Thank you for letting us know where you are , was getting a bit concerned , from what I could make out it looks like you are headed for the Galapagos ?. Have fun and ?

    • Curious Minion

      You can always see their location by scrolling to the bottom of any blog page and checking out the map.

  • boyd

    Better than sitting in the desert on BLM land.

  • George

    The episode was phenomenal, that being said (and meant) I want you two to do a little introspection…you both have had so many incredible life experiences, in your professional lives, in your RV programs and now aboard Curiosity. Jasons comment and behavior was so interesting and as he was saying it, “that’s the reason we have a boat” I wonder if either of you have ever had those revelations during any other routine? Or, is this your Nirvana?


    Your underwater videos are getting better and better – even with that bit of fogging.
    Looks like you were always having fun and THAT is why your blogs are so fun to watch.
    Take care,


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