Bocas del Toro

Amazing beaches, unbelievable diving, air conditioned hotel, fried chicken… life is good! My 6 month border run was to Bocas del Toro, Panama. Since Charlie had that same week off in Bocas we had a great little vacation!

At some point I should do a post on border crossings. For now all you need to know is I walked across this bridge:
I HATE bridges. I think I held my breath the entire walk.

The trek to Bocas included a: 3:30am alarm, car ride (thanks Michelle!), bus ride, taxi ride, bus ride, border crossing, van ride, and water taxi. But I made some wonderful South African friends who are traveling from Canada all the way south.

Bocas town is a small Caribbean town, but the area is absolutely beautiful! Since it’s an archipelago, the ocean is calm and the waves are small. It truly feels like a huge lake instead of the ocean.

Photo from Melodey :)

Photo from Melodey

Day 1: Playa Estrella (Star beach)
We took a “bus” with slightly too small seats out across the island to Bocas del Drago. After a short (and stunning) walk along the beach we came to Playa Estrella. As its name implies, there are bunch of star fish that live on the sandy bottom. This was my first introduction to the beaches here and I was way more amazed by the fact that I could walk into the water and still see my feet than the sea stars.
EstrellaBeach
We got attacked by fish. (Mainly Charlie got attacked by fish.) When we returned to the hotel we found out they were venomous. That’s cool.

And there were little baby barracuda! Actually, there were a million little fish in general! Some will come up and eat your toes! (Yes, I was completely giddy about the ocean and the fish the entire trip.)
EstrellaBoat

Day 2: Diving!
While planning our trip, we decided to dive off of kayaks. I was a little skeptical about this. You see, I’m not the most graceful person in the word nor am I particularly skilled at getting into kayaks. All I kept seeing was me flipping my kayak and my weight belt heading straight for the bottom. But Charlie reassured me that it would be fine.

It was AMAZING! The morning was perfect, warm but slightly overcast. The water was perfect, warm, clear, and no current. The sea life was incredible! (Videos and photos to come.) I won’t waste too much of your time on this because I’m going to do a massive picture/video post from Charlie’s GoPro once he’s back in CR.

Photo from Melodey

Photo from Melodey

Slight brag: I will say though that my “fish” skills in Northern California translate exponentially to tropical waters. It was unbelievable. We did two 30+ minute dives on one tank, and after doing the math I realized I could easily do a 2+ hour dive on one tank. I should rephrase: I could do it without running out of air. I’m sure I’d be exhausted way before that though.

Aaaand… I got in and out of my kayak successfully every time!

Day 3: More beach. More diving.
In the AM we headed back out to Playa Estrella but stopped about half way and had our own private beach. Palm trees… blue ocean… white sand… the whole nine yards. The waves here can be measured in inches instead of feet so we just waded out in the sun and warm water.
BocasBeach

On the way back we decided to fit in one more dive around 4pm. We dove “The Playground” which is a huge reef with tons of fish. The dives are very shallow so you just cruise around and check everything out. It was a great dive. And bonus points, I did my first dive off a small boat… backwards roll and flopping back into the boat like Shamu and all!

Final Day
I ended the trip by waking up in Panama with no cash and no ride home! (Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. The van that was taking me home broke down and I had spent all my money already. After much freaking out and some generosity from work I made it home. I was unbelievably happy when I got on that bus in CR.)

Photo from Melodey

Photo from Melodey

P.S. If you’re wondering where all of these awesome pictures came from, you should check out Melodey’s blog, True Life: I Live in a Rainforest. She’s much better at taking pictures than I am. 🙂

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