Snorkeling off Isla Bastimentos
The day started off pleasantly enough…slept in till 9 o’clock, woke up, showered and got the Breakfast Typico’: two eggs, a side of yogurt, rice & beans along with two slices of freshly baked bread. As 11 o’clock ticked around, my buddy Trevor and I were both up for a little adventure but had no idea on what to do.
Fortunately stranded out on an island in the middle of Bocas del Toro, Panama, we heard from some others backpackers the previous night at the local hostel pub that we could easily go up to just about any local, offer them a 6 pack of beer and they would take us out on a snorkeling excursion for the day; easy enough right?
Well after eating our comfort food which effectively cured our hangovers from the previous nights 60 shots of beer in 60 minutes feat, we decided to go for a little walk around town and test this theory out!
Although a 6 pack of beer didn’t do it, Trevor and I found a local who, for a mere $20 bucks per person, would take us out for a full days excursion snorkeling the reefs. Snagging two random backpackers passing by us as we were chatting the guy up, 30 minutes later we were off on a hopefully amazing adventure with our new found friends!
Jumping into the beaten up 20 foot fiberglass boat, the four of us were off to some unkown location about 45 minutes ride via boat with a driver who didn’t speak a lick of english but seemed to nod to every question we had.
The two gas tanks wobbling around in the back with a funnel hose running into the motor really gave us that “authentic” feel we were looking for in such a predicament but even that couldn’t pull our attention aside due to the sheer all natural beauty.
The ride over was indeed very scenic as we swerved in between the individual islands over the glassy waters. You could easily see the bottom of the ocean floor just 40, 50 and even 60 feet down as well as everything in between.
After that 45 minutes of admiring the overly inviting ocean water, we finally arrived with the Irania to the snorkeling base where we grabbed a couple of snorkels and headed to the crystal clear waters that was home to some flourishing reefs & marine life.
Jumping into the warm ocean water, a very small current kept us active as we examined the ocean floor. I was astonished at how shallow this area was. Surprisingly only about 10-15 feet in some spots! Apparently it was strictly regulated for tourist to not have fins around these parts which would explain the remarkable condition of the reef.
As we continued swimming around, taking pictures and enjoying the sunshine the four of us spotted some pretty neat marine life. There were four squid passing through, tons of fish, sea slugs and we even spotted a jellyfish about the size of my head!
Finding ourselves getting more curious by the minute, we took a closer look at the coral to see what could be discovered. Between Trevor & I, we were able to find a number of little critters peaking back out at us.
One in particular that I remembered was a small lobster who had antennae scanning the area for food. I was tempted to put my hand inside and pull him out but thought it better not to as I might lose a finger…
Satisfying my interest in the lobster, I decided to relax and catch my breath for a few minutes as I floated with the current. Passing over this small reef that looked like purple tubes, a little white and yellow fish who apparently hadn’t liked my curiousity kept charging at me! Not at all threatened, I decided to just take a few pictures and let her on her way.
Beginning to wear ourselves out after our 3 hours of snorkeling, the four of us jumped into the boat, woke our sleeping driver and signalled we were ready to head back to the main island where our hostel was located.
After making a quick stop to refuel, the local powered up the boat and we were off to get some much needed rest and more importantly…FOOD! Needless to say, the $20 per head was well worth the private excursion to the more remote locations of Bocas del Toro!
Have you ever been snorkeling in Panama?