We had previously paid for a tour by boat through Oferta Simple. I emailed the company a few times and left a voicemail on their phone to book the tour for May 6th, but never received a reply. This is very typical of Panama. Anyway, as we arrived in Bocas Town by water taxi, I found the tour company office right outside the docks. So with the printed coupons in hand, I asked to book the prepaid tour for the next day. No problem and a few minutes later we were scheduled for the next morning.
This all day tour was to leave by boat in the morning, first go to Bahia Delphin (Dolphin Bay) to see dolphins, then to Cayo Coral for snorkeling, and then to Red Frog Beach to swim and relax in the sun. This day there was just one other young couple from Germany who joined us. The husband spoke English very well and his wife spoke a little. Our boat captain/tour guide spoke English also. There are so many islands of Bocas Del Toro; I am amazed how he could navigate around. And the weather couldn’t have been better.
At Dolphin Bay, unfortunately the dolphins must have been sleeping or hiding because we saw none even after extensively looking for about a half hour in the very calm waters of the bay. So we moved on to Cayo Coral where we first stopped at the island docks nearby for a 15 minute break. We were told we could order lunch at the restaurant there and come back later after we go out to the reef for snorkling. Previously, back at our condo, the manager had told us not to eat at the Cayo Restaurant, but wait until we get to Red Frog Beach. And when we saw the menu and outrageous prices (averaged about $15 per entree for typical arroz con pollo), we and the other couple agreed to wait until we went to Red Frog. Although the boat captain probably gets a cut from the restaurant at Cayo, we convinced him we wanted to spend more time and have lunch at Red Frog beach after we went snorkling.
So off we went to the reef about 200 meters from the docks. Mikkel and I had brought our own snorkeling equipment, but they were provided for the other couple and even for us if we didn’t have our own. We snorkeled in the warm clear ocean water for a couple of hours as the boat captain sat in his boat listening to his iTunes. Saw lots of colorful fish and coral as I swam around a large part of the underwater reef and took many pictures with our waterproof camera, but haven’t downloaded the memory card yet to see how they turned out (only have my iPad right now). Eventually it started to cloud up, so all four of us climbed aboard the boat and headed to Red Frog beach.
By the time the boat made it’s way around several islands to Isla Bastimento where Red Frog Beach is, the clouds seemed to have moved on. We docked at the marina, but were told we had to walk to the other side of the island to get to the beach. Supposedly it was only a 12 minute walk, but more like 20. The entrance cost is $3 per person to maintain the nicely graded roads. There is a big home development on this island, but we could not see the homes from the road to the beach. Several golf carts passed us by transporting people from their homes, a Hostal, or a sales office to the beach or other places on the island. Anyway, the walk is pleasurable and easy and winds through the jungle with good signage to direct you to the beach. Eventually you can hear the crash of the ocean waves and at the end of the road, the white sands of the long beach appears. We first ate lunch at the Punta Lava Bar & Grill which overlooks this beautiful beach. Yes, it was much better than the one at the Cayo docks and half the price. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach, swimming and resting on our beach towels under the trees to avoid a possible sun burn. I love sitting at the beach watching the waves; it’s a time for reflection, meditation, prayer, and thanksgiving – tranquilo. At 3:30pm we headed back over the road to the marina where we had previously arranged to meet the boat captain at 4:00pm. And about half hour later, we were back at Isla Colon.
After showering and checking emails, we topped off this amazing day with dinner. The restaurant we chose was serving only Mexican Food that night. Since we had Mexican food the night before, we opted out and began searching for our 2nd choice restaurant. Having difficulty finding it, we came across a restaurant not even on our list called Maracua. Looking on their posted menu, they saw that they served Thai food. That synched it; I have been missing Thai food since I moved to Panama! The dining area was on a small dock on the waterfront and the food was so good with the right amount of spice for our liking. What a find!
The next day, we had a delicious breakfast at Fat Boys (again a find not on our choice list), located on the main street of Bocas Town. Afterwards Mikkel & I did a little shopping in town before going back to the condo. We decided to just relax for the afternoon; maybe swim in the pool (which ended up being closed for maintenance that day), but we did take a walk on the narrow beach across the road from the condo. As we walked barefoot, my toe was stung by something, not sure what. Boy did that sting! But it didn’t swell, and the sting eventually dissipated. The water was very muddy at this beach, not clear like Red Frog Beach, definitely not for swimming. One thing I noticed as I have seen set up at many beaches and towns this side of Panama, was a volleyball net with people playing volleyball. I have not seen this in Panama before, but it seems to be very popular in this area even on the mainland.
That night we again topped off the evening with a lovely romantic dinner on the waterfront at Ultima Refugio Restaurante, the one we couldn’t find the night before. This time we asked the taxi driver to take us directly there, finding out that it was on the other side of the ferry dock; we just hadn’t walked far enough. A little expensive, but well worth the delicious crusted seared tuna and filet miñon as we watched the boats slowly moved by with their lights reflecting on the calm water under the stars. The restaurant’s own peanut butter chocolate Snickers frozen pie was heavenly; I savored every bite.
This has been a fantastic trip and we still have one more night back in Boquete before traveling home to Pedasí, but I will write about that in the next blog. I am glad we decided to visit Bocas Del Toro even though I probably would not live here. But I would like to visit again some day. Chau & blessings for now.