First Taste of Panama – Bocas and The Underwater Garden

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.

ˌekspləˈrāSH(ə)n/ noun

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.

downtown bocas town
bocas del toro panama
colorful Caribbean scene
culture in Bocas Town
beach in bocas town
bocas del toro panama

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.

shopping for fruit in bocas
Another satisfied and fully loaded customer leaving the Legumbreria Jose.
Learning about the pifa (peach palm) fruit.
bocas del toro panama
There is nothing super or Hawaiian about this place…but it looks neat from the outside!

Sailing Report

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

panama sailing 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

Snorkel / Freedive Gear

Cameras Used to Capture This Video

The Crew

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:

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