I have spent the last 2 weeks teaching in a little know paradise called Bocas del Toro. It is a little known group of islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama. I love the Caribbean vibe and it has been great fun teaching the PADI instructor program here so I thought I would share exactly why I think, scuba diving here in Bocas Del Toro is awesome.
What kind of site would you like to dive today?
Its not just sandy reefs that you’ll find around Bocas del Toro. There is a mix of pinnacles, wrecks and even some caves depending on what time of year you are coming. You can dive all week and not hit the same site. Let’s start out on one of the two wrecks, followed by a fun drift dive along the wall. Did you know, that Bocas Dive center even has its’ own wreck at the dive center? Yes, a sunken airplane off of their dock. How cool is that!
Did someone say sponges?
Sponges are one of the most basic filter feeders and an intricate part of the reef. They are often mistaken for plants when they are actually animals. There is one of the biggest diversity of sponges that I have ever seen right here in Bocas. The different colors and structures are amazing and so often they are not appreciated at all. If you really want to get into it then you can take one of Bocas Dive centers specialized sponge ecology programs and really learn about their role on the reef.
Calmness is key
Being surrounded by different islands, the sites for diving are in a lagoon. Because of this, throughout the year the water is like glass and the ocean is flat. During a storm the other day the waves got to giant 3″ (7cm). Yes, please do note the sarcasm. It makes scuba diving all year nice and easy with accessible sites and flat waters, surface time and underwater are all round fun.
Blink and you’re there?
All the dive sites are within 15 minutes. Yes, that’s all. Whether you are diving one of the wrecks, or Manuels Wall, you only need a super short boat ride and you’re there. With so many different sites to choose from you can spend a nice afternoon without being rushed, heading to lots of different sites. An added bonus as well for anyone that isn’t the best with motion sickness.
How many different fish could you see on one dive?
You always see the usual reef culprits. These include angelfish, butterfly fish and puffers. But one thing I have noticed in Bocas is some of the less usual residents. For example the toadfish. If you have been diving the Caribbean for a few years like I have, you know that they are particularly elusive. In four dives I saw three! In Roatan I know people who have been there years and never seen one. Thats how awesome that is. Top that off with a couple of amazing little purple goddesses (nudibranchs) and you have an amazing dive. It may not be your run of the mill fun, reef discoveries, but that is what makes it extra interesting.
So all in all, I think you get the idea, that there are some great reasons for scuba diving in Bocas del Toro. I think you should definitely come and discover why! And if heading that way, you should check out Bocas Dive center for sure!