Scuba diving in Bocas del Toro is in some of the best and most diverse waters in all of Central America. The cost however is about half what you would expect to pay in places like Roatan, Honduras. You can find over two dozen different types of corals, hundreds of species of fish, kelp forests, shipwrecks, caves and reefs all within an hour of Bocas town. With so many different types of diving experiences to be had, it is the perfect place to spend a couple of weeks exploring them all. One popular destination for divers and snorkelers alike, is Hospital Point. At only five minute by boat from Bocas, this point is easily accessible and a great place to get your feet wet. The water is warm and clear and it is possible to see many different examples of coral such as brain and elk.
For those on a budget, a mask, snorkel and fins can be rented in town for as little as $12 for the day. They can then hire one of the many locals along the wharf to take them over by boat and then pick them up later in the day for no more the three dollars.
The archipelago of Bocas del Toro in Panama is situated on the northwestern coast of Panama in and around the Bay of Chiriqui. This isolated region of Panama has only recently been discovered by international travelers. It is for this reason that much of the island chain remains in pristine and untouched splendor. It is a diver and outdoor lovers paradise with unspoiled coral reefs, deep-sea fishing, boating, kayaking, snorkeling and long sandy deserted beaches. Traveling to Bocas, as the locals call it, can either be as simple as taking a 40 minute flight from Panama City or as adventurous as going over land by bus and water taxi. Either way it is a destination unlike any to be found elsewhere in Panama.
Over the last few years the entire province has seen the beginnings of a tourist boom, with a number of middle range hotels and restaurants being opened in and around Bocas town. The town now boasts of three different PADI dive shops, many different styles of restaurants, a deep sea fishing outfit, numerous sailboat and catamaran cruises, mountain bike and moped rentals and a lot of fabulous seafood. Various half, full and multiple day trips can be arranged that combine different elements of what is available in the region.
The Isla Bastimentos is located a 10-minute boat ride away from the town of Bocas del Toro. The small town of Bastimentos, the center of activity in the island, has typical caribbean architecture and no roads! It can only be reached by boat. Isla Bastimentos has several interesting features, such as Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, beautiful and nearly deserted white sandy beaches, and on the southeastern edge of the island, Salt Creek, a settlement of Ngobe-Bugle indians (formerly known as guaymi).
Although there are hundreds of islands near the Panamanian coasts and in the two major archipelagos of San Blas and Bocas del Toro in the Caribbean Sea, some of the best snorkeling, SCUBA diving and deep-sea fishing are to be found in the Pacific's protected waters beside Panama's Coiba Island. Blessed with breathtaking rugged beauty, the hundreds of miles of the Pacific's Coast will offer the intrepid traveler a bounty of discoveries and exploration pleasures.
One of the smaller islands of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, Isla Solarte is located between the Columbus and Bastimentos islands. The most visited part of it is Hospital Point, its western tip, which lies just across the deep channel to the east of Isla Carenero. The ocean around that point is one of the archipelago's most accessible dive sites, appropriate for both scuba and skin diving. It is named for a former hospital that was built to quarantine yellow fever patients during Bocas del Toro's banana heyday. There are a few homes behind that point, but most of the rest of the island is covered with rain forest.