Bocas Del Toro

Trip Start Sep 30, 2013
Trip End May 31, 2014

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Where I stayed

Flag of Panama  , Bocas del Toro,
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday 18th December, 11:30pm

I am sitting in the open air lounge of the Hotel Olas in YET ANOTHER TROPICAL PARADISE. The heavy rain on the corrugated iron roof may sound alarming, but the ceiling fan keeps the temperature and mozies at bay.

We left San Jose at 6am this morning less than impressed with the capital city of Costa Rica and drove at high speed and in considerable comfort along pretty good roads to Sixaola on the border of Costa Rica and Panama.The first couple of hours took us through cloud forest and visibilty was poor - an ideal opportunity to take a nap. The weather then cleared to reveal miles of bananas in all directions for another couple of hours. 

At 10:30 we turned off the road into a really nice beach resort where we stopped for a 2 hour lunch break. Marian and I took a dip in the Caribbean breakers - this is a hot spot for surfers. Then the heavens opened again, but so what! There we were already wet in our swimies and in 30 degress of heat.

After a delighful lunch we took off again to the border crossing - this one required us to walk with our rucksacks for 200 meters over a rickety old railway bridge. CARE IS REQUIRED, else you will find yourself IN the Rio Sixaola.

After another hours drive in Panama we boarded a high powered speed boat and zoomed for 30 minutes to the delightful settlement of Bocas del Toro on the island of Colon. It a centre for diving, snorkeling, kayaking and many nature related activities.

I can thoroughly recommend the San Jose to Bocas shuttle run by Caribe Shuttles.
On Friday I start a  2 day free diving course. This where you dive down deep and long, but without the benefit of any breathing apparatus. My Israeli dive master says the survival rates are pretty good.

Thursday 19th December

We took an all day tour (30$ each) run by the hotel including
  • visit to Dolphin Bay
  • snorkelling on the reef
  • a couple of hours on Zapatilla (1) island which we walked around
  • lunch stop
  • a stop to see a sloth, hanging loose in a tree (not doing much) and some starfish


It was a nice day out and well worth the $30. We met an very nice couple from USA/Argentena and a chap from England and had supper with them in the evening.

Friday 20th December

I have a minor (Intrepid) cold.
Day 1 of my 2 day free diving course. Learnt how to breathe better. Went down to 12 meters. Felt bunged up. Spent the afternoon recovering from sore sinuses and a headache.

Marian went sailing with Marcel on a catamaran.

Saturday 21st December

Day 2 of my 2 day free diving course. Learnt how to breathe even better. Practiced three different parayama techniques:
  • Kapalabhati
  • Samavritti
  • Uddiana bandha
and felt super relaxed. Went down to 20 meters. Great!

Sunday 22nd December

Spent the morning in an indigenous community (of 600) who grow cocoa. They export all their produce to Lindt of Switzerland, and it's pretty good stuff. This was a totally genuine and unpretentious outfit and included a walk through the jungle to see their cocoa trees, plus loads of other plants that they use.


On the way we saw a 3 toed sloth shinning his way down a tree - he seemed in a bit of a hurry (for a sloth.) Our guide told us was on his way to do a poo poo. Apparently they always poo poo on the ground.

We had lunch there - a most delicious portion of chicken with the leaf and root of one of the plants they grow very simply prepared. Rick Stein would be very interested to get the recipe.


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Viv Sullivan on

The journey to the island sounds amazing, our friend Alan is the UK free dive champion! Ill introduce you when we get back.
You luck lucky people this sounds idyllic, thinking of you both xxx

Marian on

Love the comments Viv. Keep them coming- :)

Sean Sullivan on

Had to explain two birds and two blokes to Viv :)

Yvonne on

Backpacking suits you - you look relaxed and happy. Reading your blog brings back so many forgotten memories of gorgeous scenery, stunning beaches and some great and not so great hostels and journeys. Can't wait to hopefully meet up in 2014 to get all the details though blog is so descriptive, I'm there with you. All the very best. Yvonne

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