19.08.2009 - 26.08.2009 90 °F
Boca del Toro…miles traveled…..197.
We departed Panama City from the bus terminal on an overnight bus to Bocas del Toro. Bocas is the “new tourist hot spot” in Panama. It was hot, and there were tourists, but it we had its beaches practically to ourselves. On our first day, at the urging of our host, Ben, at the Las Brisas hostel, we lunched at the Pickled Parrot and hit our first beach on the island of Costanera. We arrived at The Pickled Parrot by water taxi, and we were served up the best hamburger we have had on our trip and washed it down with a few cold Balboas. The owner is an ex-pat underwater nuclear reactor inspector who recharges his batteries on the beach in Panama! After that we headed to the beach. The sand was white and the water was warm and clear. Sara and I called it a very successful first day.
The second day we played to hit one of the beaches on Isla Colon, on the way to the water taxi we were solicited by a young man offering a tour. “Special Price, $15 per person. We go to Dolphin Bay, Snorkle, and Red Frog Beach. Inlcudes all except $3 additional to enter Red Frog Beach because it is a national Park.” After a few moments of conferring and several more references regarding the “Dolphins”, we joined the tour. In our party were , a large group of Brits on Uni vacation and a few stray Germans. At Dolphin Bay, we were greeted very pleasantly and promptly by a group of three dolphins swimming leisurely. We sighted several more groups of dolphins many of which were very near our boat. This portion of the trip climaxed when one of the dolphins put on a show punctuated by several leaps out of the water and splashing reentries! It was fabulous.
We followed this with Sara and I snorkeling for the first time. At the reef where we snorkeled an abundance of fish and sea life were on display. Various types of coral, specific colors and their attendant fish covered the sea floor. There gentle current caused no problems, and the experience left us wanting more snorkeling.
Our next stop was red Frog Beach. To reach the beach we paid the entrance fee and hiked across a small stretch of jungle. A group of little boys met us up the trail to show off the famous “red frogs”(poisonous if eaten).
We were not disappointed by our second beach. White sand stretched about a mile in either direction. The strong and consistent surf pounded the beach providing a relaxing background noise. Our group entered the water to try our hand at body surfing. We caught a couple of waves and swallowed plenty of saltwater. The current strong current and pounding surf left us exhausted by the end of the afternoon. The tour probably rates as our best values of the Panama leg of our trip.
The next day, we took the bus to play at Bocas del Drago, also called Starfish Beach. The Beach here is narrow but extends for several miles.
Our first mile walking yielded exactly zero starfish. The second mile yielded a blue crab and a stingray.
Finally, we were considering giving up. “Should we head back?” Sara asked. “Let’s go a little further.” It was merely twenty yards further, and we hit the mother load of starfish. We saw different sizes and patterns. We picked up a few to inspect their feet. It was very cool.