First Taste of Panama – Bocas and The Underwater Garden
This is our first time in Panama, much less Central America. To be honest, we don’t know much about it (yet). But that’s the way most of our travels go. Curiosity has brought us here and it’s our mission to search, explore, discover and learn about our new locale.
The action of traveling in or through an unfamiliar area in order to learn about it. “voyages of exploration”
synonyms: investigation, study, survey, research, inspection, examination, scrutiny, observation; consideration, analysis, review, expedition, trip, journey, voyage; archaic peregrination; travels
We’re void of any Panamanian presumptions and our senses are wide open. We’re in the sponge stage, just soaking it all in.
Bocas, or Bocas Town as the locals call their island, is located in the far northeastern side of Panama. The Hostels are bountiful as is the mix of European backpackers and local gringos. It’s a little bit of the “tourist hustle” (you need a taxi? snorkel? SCUBA? surf? chocolate tour? Red Frog beach?…) and a whole lot of authentic Caribbean color.
The rhythm here is unique and contradictory. The streets are loud and the waterways are busy. The panga’s zoom from all directions, the music pulses from hip hangouts and yet the groove here is unmistakably island time. It’s one of those places you plan to visit for a few days and end up staying a few weeks. It’s bananas in every sense of the word, but I suppose that should be expected. This is the home of Miss Chiquita.
Fruits and Veggies Galore!
The street vendors at the park, the Legumbreria Jose and Super Gourmet are where it’s at for provisions. Their prices are the best as is the selection compared to the typical grocery stores in town.
To see our full map with interactive pins, click here: gonewiththewynns.com/map
- Dates: August 2 – 7, 2017
- Nautical Miles Sailed: 235
- Anchorage: Bocas Del Toro North. This is a full and very busy anchorage with all of the water taxis but the access to town is hard to beat. This spot can be found easily on Active Captain.
Sips & Bites
We’re not Bocas experts by any means, but we do know good food. We had a wonderful “from scratch” lunch and watermelon smoothie at Cafe del Mar. The Bocas Brewery was in a transitional phase (it’s off season now) so they only had the one beer on tap…but it was top notch. The owners promised they’d be brewing like crazy and back open in a month, I really hope we get to go back. Another spot is El Ultimo Refugio, we didn’t get to eat here but literally everyone said it’s the best spot in town.
Cell & WiFi
There are a few different choices when it comes to data and getting a sim card for our phone. The biggest difference is coverage; which carrier works on which islands. Most are around $15 for 2 gigs of data. We use an app called OpenSignal to see the coverage for each carrier. This helps us to know which provider we need for where we are headed next. Thanks to the app we ended up purchasing a +Movil card and it’s been working pretty well. FYI – at this point Bocas doesn’t have 4g coverage, so even the most expensive data plans aren’t fast compared to USA standards.
Gear Used In This Video
- All of our fave gear – gonewiththewynns.com/store
- Quatix 5 Watches: Garmin Wearables
- Chartplotter: Garmin 7612xsv Multi-touch More on this soon too, we’re still learning and figuring it all out.
- iPad Mount at Helm: http://amzn.to/2fT84PG Using iPad Pro: http://amzn.to/2d9Oopf With These Sailing Apps:
- iNavx: http://bit.ly/2vGgC51
- Garmin Bluecharts with Active Captain: http://bit.ly/2tgnRmA
- Iridium Go and Predict Wind for weather and communications: bit.ly/PredictWindIridium
Snorkel / Freedive Gear
- Hammerhead Free-Dive Mask With Camera Mount http://amzn.to/2d5C6SB
- Hammerhead Free-Dive J Snorkel: http://amzn.to/2cjh3dV
- Nikki’s Sporasub Freediving Fins: http://amzn.to/2kIYmlf
- Atomic Mask: http://amzn.to/2uuqsZf
- Omer Snorkel: http://amzn.to/2uxCjEb
- Omer Freediving Fins: http://amzn.to/2kIhljK
- Hawaiian Sling Spear: http://amzn.to/2hIBfHb
- Cut Resistant Gloves: http://amzn.to/2uxZWfM
Cameras Used to Capture This Video
- Main Camera – Sony A7ii: http://bit.ly/a7rii-sony
- Sony Zoom Mic: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/product/sony-gun-zoom-microphone-black
- Sony 24 – 70mm f4 lens: http://bit.ly/2470-zeiss
- Sony rx100 with Underwater Housing: http://amzn.to/2xG43rn
- iPhone 7 plus with olloclilp fish eye and wide angle lens (the new iphone is waterproof and is almost always with us, so it is the perfect backup camera. Plus, I was shocked at how good the audio is, even with wind and engine noise from the dinghy) : http://bit.ly/2vBDUMP
- DJI Mavic Pro: http://amzn.to/2vUFXa6
- Underwater Footage, Sony Action Cam: http://bit.ly/sony-as300
- All of our photo and editing gear: gonewiththewynns.com/best-travel-camera-video-photography
Dale and Justin are Patreon’s and won a place on this voyage from our recent Crew Call. Want to know more about them? You can find them here:
- YouTube (their video submission) – youtube.com/channel/UC5JTLYjTrJC5TJl9_KJPD4g
- Instagram – instagram.com/djsdives/
- Twitter – twitter.com/DjsDives
Thanks for joining us! If you liked this video and want to help us keep the videos and posts flowing, check out our Say Thanks page. It lists out some ways you can show us some digital love and most won’t cost you a penny.
I think you guys are super cool! You should go to El Valle if you are still in panama. If you go to the Atlantic side you gotta go to devils beach and hidden beach once you are there. You walk left if you are facing the beach and walk through the jungle path you will come to your own private beach. It’s a lagoon and private and beautiful
Panama is a great place enjoys our vacation.Your photos are really amazing.Thanks for sharing this wonderful article.
Hmmmm, is it possible to edit a comment after clicking RETURN ? There are times when I would want to correct some spelling or modify/correct a context.
Thanks for your efforts creating this video of your experiences walking about town and all the frank and honest banter between Nikki and Jason. You guys make me chuckle at times with what you say and the various faces you make. Passer by-s must also chuckle at you two talking to the camera. It certainly pays to not be inhibited by what others may think of you. One thing always amazes me with the architecture and the building in the sunny semi-tropical areas; its the wonderful array of colors the buildings are painted with. It’s kind of like a mixed up bag of assembled colored Lego bricks. Hey, when Jason or Nikki are looking at the camera and walking backwards you have to be careful what you run into or step into, right ? Do one of you somehow guide the other who’s walking backwards, or don’t you care ? The underwater scenes were definitely murky and I can understand your disappointment with it. What was the water temperature(s) ? You all look very sun tanned…. is it hot and humid…. didn’t see any sweat pouring off you at all. Has Jason eaten all those bananas yet ? What kind of meat was being sold in the markets and was it just hanging with flies all about ? Have any of you fallen ill/sick or having stomach issues with eating some foods, and what about clean water ? What about nasty flying bugs down there…. where there any ? In general, were the locals friendly toward you or did they treat you with any disdain ? Take care…. and again, thanks for the excellent video which has to be a labor of love as I know it’s has to be very time consuming for both of you. I would love to know the background music titles you use…. can they be posted at the ending credits maybe ? I especially like the music choice for the underwater video segment. You two are simply amazing and a delight to follow and watch in the videos….. Have fun down there…. and I personally can have some of that while viewing the videos. Oh, and BTW, how did you capture those aerial shots ? …. did you empty your Mavic Pro drone ?
Phil & Rita
Thanks guys, great vid and excellent underwater footage! Really interesting to see the difference in cultures and sights. An education on so many levels. Cheers from NS.
I’m glad you guys got out of the Hurricane zone. I hope all your friends, like Ken, will fair well out of this tragedy waiting to hit Florida and Texas/Mexico again.
Now an earthquake off the southern coast of Mexico with tsunami wRnings for Panama. I’m officially very worried about you all. Can’t help it, I care. Please I send love light and prayers to you, please be safe, all of you
The earthquake and tsunami warning was for the Pacific coast and Curiosity and crew are on the Atlantic side. All safe!
Love following you and await the new Sunday releases with anticipation.
I hope you and crew are safe from Harvey and Irma, and that you plan accordingly if you’re going across the South Pacific.
Travel safely and continue to have fun.
Just let us know you are safe……
Panama is well south of Irma (and the rest of the hurricanes) and the tsunami warnings were for the Pacific coast of Panama (and Curiosity and crew are still on the Atlantic side, safe and sound.
Jason Nikki you be careful out there. Gone with the Wynns is a good book title for your book.
I’m way to much. Debbie Downer to ever take on such an adventure. It was sad to see the condition of the beach & water. Love your videos & look forward to your further adventures.
If you think Bocas Town is quaint, now, you should have been there 20 years ago when there were only about a dozen cars on the entire Island. It was easier to get a boat taxi from one end of town to the other than an auto taxi. So much has changed. It’s not the sleepy little “banana republic” it was. From a tourist’s point of view it’s rather sad, but for most of the locals the boom has been great. High tides raise all boats.
You are having a much better experience in Panama than I did. I fell getting into an Embara Indian canoe, broke my ankle, and ended up in a Panama City hospital. Not a fun experience. We had to fly back to the US the next day because I had to have surgery. I spent 3 months after that in a wheelchair!
I really enjoyed your about town mingling with the locals because it’s giving us the flavor of where you are and an appreciation of what the locals have to offer. The cell phone videos were great.
As exciting as it is to know that you guys are sailing across the Gulf of Mexico, the photos of Panama are quite a letdown. That is a lot of effort to expend just to end up at basically what looks like a slum. I miss the “good old days” when you were traveling the roads and sights of America.
I am not sure what to say to that other than not everywhere is going to look like a developed American city. Bocas while it may look like a slum to you has loads of charm. I am loving how culturally different everything is. Don’t go writing Panama off just yet. This is only one tiny sliver and there is so much more to come. The jungle here is stunning and the cloud forest is out of this world.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! What a joy it is to follow your adventures.
It is our pleasure. Thank you for being a part of it all!
Wow! great videos. I found you guys about the time you got back from the Bahamas. Now me and my wife look forward to Sundays for the newest release. We have even gone back to watch some of your RVing shows and found them as entertaining and informative as the sailing. Your personalities are perfect for this and I hope the best for you both.
You have talked about how slow sailing is and there is a saying in baseball that may apply to sailing. Baseball is said to be 5 mins of excitement crammed into 3 hrs of boredom. Long distance sailing seems to be 10 mins of excitement crammed into 24 hrs of boredom. I don’t mean that in a bad way because I love both baseball and sailing.
I hope Jason gets over the headaches from rough seas, but if he doesn’t I have an idea. The same way you bought a boat and learned to sail, you could buy a plane and learn to fly. You two are certainly smart enough to learn how to. Then fly to the destinations around the world you want to explore and give a new meaning to gone with the Wynns.
OK, I’ll stop blabbering and just let you know we are watching. Have fun and be safe.
FYI You would pay about $50 for a 50′ heavy gauge cord in USA too. Copper is expensive. And FYI to viewers, Panama standard currency is US dollars.
Suggestion for videos … Give us a date reference please because of the delay before you upload. Wynnophiles like me can decide it from the map, and we know this must be early August because you barely beat your deadline to cross the 12th. But a mention or caption during the video would be more convenient. This will get way more important as you spend longer times at sea and in poorly-connected ports of call.
This was not a nice heavy duty extension cord by any stretch and would have cost $20 at a hardware store in the USA. We’re on an island so everything is more expensive than the mainland. As for dates on the video…we always list the dates visited under the Sailing Report section here on the posts. That way you always have a reference to where we were, how far we traveled to get there and what dates we were there on. Hopefully, we won’t get to far behind as we venture further and will be able to keep the posts/videos flowing in a timely manner.
Does mobile service mean you can call home? ?
I hope the beaches get nicer! It’s pretty hard to beat those in the Bahamas (and the clear waters). The underwater experience was great! So many new and interesting fish I’ve never seen before.
Love my Sunday Funday videos!
Be safe! ❤️
Why would a seaweed milkshake be white??? Isn’t seaweed green? Bring on the ginseng!! lol that was too funny ? How long can you all stay underwater? Isn’t snorkeling when you don’t have to carry oxygen? Maybe its camera video magic, but it seems like you are holding your breathe for a very long time!! Even though the water was murky, there was some very cool coral or sea creatures- thought that I saw a big spider!! I think you did a great job of capturing the essence of this foreign land! Gracias & beunos dias ?☀️
Awesome underwater photography/video!
Nikki, love your hair and the sun streaks. I loved getting a reply to my email, man am I special or what. I love that when you do post a video that it is almost a half hour and I totally turn everything else off, get cozy with my coffee or beer depending on what time of day it is and absorb myself in your adventures. Question I’ve had, for the catamaran vs.a monohull, are there certain terrains and destinations or seas to avoid or are they the same. Always wondered if the multihull could handle rough seas as well as the monohull. I know you already have had some rough seas , as always, loved hearing back from you, safe and fun travels
Thanks Monica. I haven’t had all natural hair in a long time! I almost forgot what my real hair color looks like! 😉 It is such a compliment that you not only carve out your personal time to go on an adventure with us, but that you take the time to tell us you enjoyed it. Thank you, it means a lot! As for your cat vs mono question. All sailboats are made to be on the water but, there are lots of different designs intended for different purposes. So, it is about the designed purpose of the boat not cat vs mono. There are both catamaran and monohull designs for: cold weather (arctic expedition), blue water cruising (sailing around the world), going fast (racing), day sailing and so on. So if the boat is designed to handle rough seas, doesn’t matter if its a multi or a mono. Both will be capable…the crew on the other hand could be another story. I know our boat can handle far more than we can. 😉
Nikkie, I noticed some blonde streaks in your hair. Are those natural? I have a resque cat named ‘Tabatha’, I think she is interested in ‘Singa’. I keep telling her he is too rambungcious for her and that “Cleo’ is more her speed. Tell Kent he owes you an extention cord or $50.00 bucks. I suggest writing the boat name on everything. As for Panama after president chicken shit peanet farmer Carter gave it away to China have you seen any improvements? I don’t!
Like the underwater video. At least some of it; the first part of that rusted-rebar looking coral area was not too impressive, but the sea stars and little fishies were. I know how hard it is to get fish faces, and how extraordinarily easy it is to get fish tails, so every second of video showing more than fish tail is good.
Glad you are having a fun life. Wish the Canadian crew were a little less shy when the camera was on.
We were searching for different camping experience and came across your video for Harvest Host! You guys did a great commercial for them …. But it was just such a surprise to see you on land.
Make sure you hit up Bocas Blended while you are there, they are the best smoothies in that area. Also if you want to do some good and have quite an amazing adventure helping the indigenous Ngobe Indians. Contact the floating doctors who have there own island near the Mariana. I’ve volunteered many times and it’s an experience you would not be able to have otherwise!! I can put you in contact with the founder Ben. https://youtu.be/UK40956Oufk
It’s ARK A Pell A Go
Yayyyyyyy, video Sunday, Funday !!
Glad you are out of the hurricane zone and hopefully tropical storms. Enjoyed seeing the first foray into Panama! Do they have cocoa plantations there?
OMG! Mangosteens! I haven’t seen those since I was last in SE Asia. I wonder if they are grown locally or imported by the Asian markets. Hope you got to enjoy! Line your thumbs up along the purple flesh, split the fruit in half, and enjoy the little sections that taste like a cross between a white peach and a mango. Yum!
Happy you made it out of the hurricane zone in time!
I would love a very brief recap of plans somewhere in the videos – if the plans are made, I mean. I love the travelogue-type content too .I But just curious where you’re planning to head after Panama, whether current crew is on for the long haul, and what the goal of the long haul itself is (I may well have missed something about “we’re sailing around the world” or something like that).
Harold "George" Hofmann Jr
Hey Jason, when they asked for the swag cap, did they know who you are and what you do or were they just look for free stuff?
I like the idea that you are going to be spending some time investigating, learning Spanish and vlogging before using the canal, or are you going to explore South America?
(I’m nosey I think) Love to all, George
Just above your current location is the town of Boquete, Panama. High on the mountain and where you find great coffee. Worth the difficult adventure to get there for a night or two.
Our other comment is Nikki, don’t pet the snakes. Vipers are found on trails, rocks and in the trees. One word “Deadly”!
Otherwise, enjoy the experience!