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Activities and Culture
The best way to get out to the dive and snorkeling sites quickly and efficiently is by tour. The standard trip is offered by almost all tour operators and is great for both divers and snorkelers. It heads to Dolphin Bay for some dolphin spotting, then to Coral Cay, where there is snorkeling over a small patch of interesting coral or diving with micro-organisms; then its off to the Red Frog Beach for some surf and a final snorkel at the coral drop-off at Hospital Point, or a dive on a barge wreck. Snorkel gear is included, but check its quality before you leave the quay.
Price: $22 US
Catch the waves at on of the several sufing beaches on our main island Isla Colon or one of the surrounding islands only a short boat ride away.
Lessons and boards available in one of the local surf shops.
When diving in Bocas you will be able to see some of the best preserved hard and soft coral in the world. You will also have the opportunity to see sting rays, lobsters, many species of crabs and a countless variety of tropical reef fish.
Some of the most popular dive sites: Tiger Rock, Crawl cay, Hospital Point, Zapatilla Cays Caves, Ola chica.
- Two tank dives:
- Option A- half day tour:
Different spots 10-15 minutes from town. Takes about 4 hours.
Price: $50 US
- Option B - whole day tour:
To Bocas Del Drago and Bird Island
Price: $70 US
- Option C - whole day tour:
To Parque National Bastimentos, visiting Dolphin Bay, Crawl Cay, Red Frog Beach and Hospital Point
Price: $70 US
- Option D - whole day tour:
One two-tank dive to Tiger Rock and Zapatilal Cays (weather dependent), takes about 5 hours.
Price: $75 US.
- One tank dives - half day tour:
Takes about 4 hours
Price: $50 US.
- Night Diving:
One one-tank dive from 6:30 to 8:30PM
Price: $50 US.
All Tours include: all gear, cooler with ice, sodas, water
- PADI scuba courses:
- Discover Scuba:
Allows you to discover the underwater world using scuba, half day,
Price: $65 US
Price: $85 US
- Open Water including certification:
This course is a full cerification with worldwide recognition
Price: $225 US
This course is for licenced divers who wish to expand their skills and experiences
Price: $225 US
Helps you to define your accident prevention and management skills
Price: $350 US
- First Aid:
Is a basic course in Emergency care
Price: $100 US
- Dive Master:
It is the first level as a PADI Professional certification.
**To start a divemaster course a diver must have 20 logged dives and to finish it must have 60 logged dives***
All courses include: study manuals
$40=5US. half hour, $75US one hour.
Single kayak......$3 one hour, $10 half day , $18 full day Double kayak ...$4 one hour, $20 half day, $35 full day
Bike Rentals: $2 for 1 hour, $7 for 4 hours, $ 10 per day, $ 40 per week
Visit to Indian Village.
In the Archipelago boundaries there are several communities of the ngobe indians. These communities are, in the Bastimentos Island: Quebrada Sal and Bahia Honda; in San Cristobal: San Cristobal, Bocatorito and Valle Escondido; in Solarte: Solarte; in Popa: Popa 1, Popa 2 and Isla Tigre; in Cayo Agua: Cayo Agua. If you are interested in indian cultures, is a good idea to visit San Cristobal, Popa 2 or Quebrada Sal, where any local will tell you about their communities and customs.
Although they are not prepared to receive tourists, they receive any visitor with kindness.
The sites of Bastimentos are less visited by surfers. The first two beaches, from Bastimentos town, offer good conditiones but they are more difficult to reach: by boat from Bocas, weather permiting, or by boat to Bastimentos and then a 15 minutes walk to the other side of the island, to arrive to the first beach. The boat ride is about 15 minutes.
The third site, in Carenero island, is as dangerous as The Dump, with many coral reefs close to the waves. It is visited as an alternative and to arrive there demand a short boat ride to Carenero and a walk along the eastern coast of the key.
Exploring the area
By car, your tour begins in Bocas del Toro town, with the choice of two alternatives. The first takes you along the coast facing the open sea, with alternative rock outcrops and small beaches on the right, and undulating hills with cow farms and forests on the other side, until you reach the fabulous and as yet undeveloped beach of Bluff, with its distinctive bright orange sand. This is a great place to spend your day, swimming, taking care on rough days, laying on your back watching white-faced monkeys, or surfing the waves. Bluff Beach is also a marine turtles nesting beach, where conservation groups work during the nights, in season, to preserve nests and turtles from predators, activity open also to tourists.
Otherwise you can take the half hour trip to the old settlement of Bocas del Drago, situated on a sandy beach beyond which are patches of coral, of interest to the snorkeller. Five minutes from here, toward the open sea is the bird sanctuary Swan Key. In the way back to Bocas, make a point of stopping in the middle of the island to see the Bats Cave with its beautiful grotto.
- Colon Island and Bocas Town
In Colon island, where Bocas del Toro town is located, there are a great diversity of attractions to see. The caribbean architecture is the first thing that the tourist notes and is part of our regional culture. Inland, Colon island has forests, rivers, creeks and the remainings of fauna and flora once very aboundant. The coast can be appreciated for the coral reefs, mangrove forests, beautiful rocky formations and many sea birds. Bocas del Toro is a town with a strong personality. Walking along the main street (3rd.) or any of the adjacent ones, is like going back to the past. A past that, some times was splendid, and at other times was decadent... sad. The architecture of the old houses, with their old caribbean style, is part of the identity of Bocas.
- Zapatillas Key
These two beautiful islands are located on a coral platform that is defined, toward the open sea, by the breakers that are formed as the waves crash on the reef. Zapatillas Keys, lie inside the Bastimentos Island National Marine Park. They are famous for their beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, coral reefs and small but shady forests. They are named after a fruit: the zapatila. The western island, Zapatillas Minor, is the occasional base of scientists, researchers of the green marine turtle. The leatherback and the hawksbill turtles also come to lay their eggs, in season, on these beaches. On Zapatillas Major there is the Park Rangers refuge, the only habitation on the islands, managed by INRENARE, the Government Agency for Protection of the Natural Resources.
- Swan Key & Boca Del Drago
When Christopher Columbus arrived in Panama from Costa Rica, the first place he visited was Boca del Drago, entering what is now known as Admiral Bay (or Caribaro by the indians) via the channel that separates the main land from Colon Island. Today, this region of the archipelago is an attraction for tourists. There, you find beautiful beaches at the tip of the island and shady trails to walk. Coral formations beyond the beaches attract the snorkeller.
- Hospital Point
Hospital Point is a close and small place with a great diversity of attractions. Tourists can scuba dive or snorkel in the reef nearby, or swim and rest in the protected small beach, know about the history of the islands with the owner of the point or walk in the forest with a local guide, looking for the tiny colorful and poisonous frogs and the tombs from the beginning of the century.
Hospital Point was the place where the main hospital of the region (owned by the United Fruit Company) was established in 1899, standing there until 1920 when was moved to Almirante (main land).
- San Christobal Island
The island of San Cristobal occupies an important sector of the Admiral Bay. There is also the place most visited by dolphins in the entire Bay. There are three important indian villages in the island: San Cristobal, Bocatorito and Valle Escondido. San Cristobal is one of the more important of the region, with electricity (generator), public phone and a primary school. Bocatorito and Valle Escondido are smaller but of some importance.
- Bastimentos Island and National Marine Park
The Marine Park comprises the central sector of the Bastimentos Island, both Zapatillas Keys and the waters surrounding them, and the mangroves zone at the south of Bastimentos island. Long Beach, on the north of this island, competes with the beaches on the keys, due to is size and wild beauty. There is where marine turtles come to nest during the months of April to Ooctober. Access is not easy, by land or by sea, due to the heavy surf and the fact that thick forest encroaches upon the very edge of the beach.
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