This past weekend I decided to go to Bocas del Toro with a fellow teacher of mine for the weekend because we had to do a visa run. Bocas del Toro is a group of islands located about two hours from the Panamanian and Costa Rican border. An hour by bus and another hour by water taxi. To get to the border is about a 5 hour bus ride from San Jose. We left Thursday at 715am and arrived to Bocas around 645. Panama is an hour ahead of Costa Rica so we lost an hour. The border between the two countries is pretty awesome and consists of a really old wooden rail bridge that is covered with planks that you have to walk.
We didn’t have a place to stay upon arriving to Bocas but there are so many hostels we figured it wouldn’t be too difficult. We had met a Canadian dude on the shuttle ride over and decided to check out the place he had booked. When we got to Panama it was full, so Cory and I walked around until we found a place. We settled on a place called Mala Agau (bad water). It was cheap, 12 dollars for the dorm room, the beds were comfortable and they had lockers. Besides sleeping we didn’t spend much time there.
The first night we didn’t too much. We got dinner from some vendor lady on the street who was selling arroz con pollo, yuka and pollo for 6 bucks. It was good good. Then we decided to start drinking. It was probably around 9ish at this point. At the grocery store they sell 75 cent beers or 4.50 for a six pack of Panamanian beer. The beer is called Balboa and tasted pretty good. We gt a six pack, walked around looking for live music. We found a bar that had a band out front and stayed there for a little while. While there, this old dude with on a quad with bull horns as handles slowly drive by with fireworks on the back shooting off. Once the fireworks ended the band started playing TNT and the man drove off. It was awesome. After that display of awesomeness we went to a bar called the Iguana. The back of the bar had a deck that was built over the water.
The next day we got up around 10, ate breakfast and walked around a little. We talked to some tour places about what we could do for half a day. At 2 we decided to take a water taxi to this cave. To get to the cave the water taxi had to drive through mangroves and it was one of the coolest things I have seen. I didn’t even know what mangroves were before that. Mangroves are trees and shrubs that can grow in salt water.
We met this dude when we got to the dock, I guess he and his family owned the land the cave was on and he was going to take us to the caves. It was about a 10 to 15 min hike to the caves.
I didn’t know what I was expecting but I didn’t expect it to be like it was. We had headlamps and we had to walk through water in the darkness. Crickets were chirping and bats were flying all around. About 5 minutes in he tells us to out our stuff on a rock because it’s about to get deep. The next part consisted of walking through waist and shoulder high water. After about 10 more minutes we get to the end. At the end was a pool about 5 meters deep and a small waterfall. It was pretty surreal. We hung out there for a but and then walked out. On the walk back we saw a sloth! And he showed us some weird monkey animal that he had rescued.
After the cave the water taxi took us to a beach called red frog beach. Unfortunately we didn’t see any red frogs but the beach itself was beautiful. We stayed there until 6 because that’s when the last water taxi back was. We had dinner and then went out to Iguana again.
The next day we had a tour booked that started at 10. We got up around 9, are something small and waited around until the tour left. The first part of the tour was to this place called Dolphin Bay, where we saw a couple of dolphins. After that we went to a snorkeling spot. The snorkeling was awesome. The water was extremely clear and there was colorful coral and awesomely colorful fish. The coral was turquoise, purple, orange, green, pink and blues. After snorkeling we stopped by this place where people could order lunch if they wanted.
After people ordered we went to this island called Isla Zapatia. It is supposedly the most beautiful in Bocas. We had about 1.5 to 2 hours on the island. It rained some of the time when we were on it but it didn’t matter. It’s also really small, it takes about 30 min to walk around it. After the island we went back to the lunch place and ate. After lunch we stopped by this place where there were hundreds of starfish in the water. And after that went to a place called sloth island where we saw more sloths! We didn’t actually go on this island but stayed in the boat and drove around it. We got back to the main island around 5, went back to the hostel, took a nap. Got dinner and then went out to this place called the Aqua Lounge. A bar on an island directly across from the main one. Stayed out late, woke up at 7 and started the journey home.