Bocas del Toro: Air

Last Bocas del Toro post! We got out the drone for a little aerial action.


But first a photo from my mother-in-law that she took atop the birding platform. Can’t get enough of them sunsets.

Photo: Cherie J.



These pictures are from three different locations.

#1: The dock at Tranquilo Bay


This is a good shot of the reef close to shore. Nice snorkeling right off the dock, although we may have spent most of our time playing chicken on the SUP.

#2: The main beach on the southern shore of Isla Bastimentos. Nice, but not our favorite. The sand on the beach was a little silty. There were a few other hotels located here and a nearby village.  I know, I sound so conceited in writing those above sentences! How could I possible complain about a slightly less-than-perfect piece of white sandy beach?! My apologies.   



#3: And last but not least, our favorite: Zapatillas, the national park.

This place truly is a gem. It’s where we saw the baby sea turtle, where we walked on a boardwalk through the palm plantation, saw a shark while snorkeling, and where our children lived exclusively in the water for 8 hours. They even ate lunch while sitting in the ocean. Bunch o’ crazies.


There is a slightly odd arrangement that our guide Ramon explained (as best as I can remember): The government wanted to turn the land into a national park so they simply designated it as such, without telling or buying the land from the family that owned the island. Consequently, the owners can continue to run their palm plantation in the middle of the island, but it cannot be developed. Seemed slightly heavy-handed, no? On the other hand, this place (especially the turtle breeding grounds) would be devastated by a mega-resort firmly planted mid-island. A ranger station and buildings for the turtle research project are the only infrastructure that I observed. 

That’s wee little Emma playing mermaid in the below picture. She was a pink prune by the time she emerged from the waves. Which begets a good question: Wouldn’t real mermaids turn into grizzled wrinkly messes after so much time in the water?! Why does nobody address this issue in movies?!


This isn’t another patch of eel grass but a school of glass minnows. The pelicans and boobies were having a field day. Here’s what they look like from underwater.








You guys, this place was magical.


And that wraps up our time in Bocas del Toro. Bob and Cherie caught a flight to Panama City while we returned to the mainland to collect our camper. A strike had previously closed the main (and only!) highway into town for four days but had just wrapped up by the time we trundled through on our way to the big city.


What lay ahead of us was daunting: a week spent preparing our truck for shipment to Colombia via cargo ship. Afterwards our plan was to hop a quick flight to Cartagena (Colombia) and begin the process of extracting our vehicle from the port upon its arrival in South America.



  • Tom

    Wonderful pictures! Sorry to hear of the palm oil plantation. This activity is decimating forests in every tropical place we’ve been, especially heartbreakingly so in the (former) ancient jungles of Borneo.
    Your underwater shots are great, but you’re right that we really need a new underwater camera!

  • Sonja

    I too, have been reading about the palm oil plantations. It sounds like Costa Rica is converting all their land from banana to palm. Wonder if that’ll have much effect as bananas are not without significant impacts of their own.

    I actually think this is an island that has been cultivated for coconuts not nuts (oil). I could be mistaken, however.

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