Zapatillas Dive Club

Zapatillas Dive Club

Bocas Del Toro, Panama

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Zapatillas Dive Club is offering scuba diving and PADI courses at the Al Natural Resort in the island of Bastimentos. We are at the best spot to offer the most exclusive dives in the whole archipelago of BOcas del Toro; indeed, we are the only dive operator in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro who offers regularly dives to the protected waters and reefs around the Zapatillas Cays in the National Marine Park where many impressive wall dives and caves can be explored, and who offers them at a competitive price due to our location, as we are far away from Bocas, but closest to the best dive sites and the Bastimentos National Marine Park. Al Natural and its lagoon is a great and safe place to do a Discovery Dive and experience fort the first time the magic of the underwater world.
. I am glad to inform you that we are introducing our new Multi Dive & PADI Certification & Multi Night Packages atAl Natural REsort, please ask for complete details

More information about Zapatillas Dive Club

We are located right next to the Bastimentos National Marine Park Reserve in a well-protected lagoon. The best months for diving are late Aug through Oct and March through May, when the seas are generally calmer with better visibility. When the weather is calm, we are able to do dives along the open coast of the ocean and inside the Marine Reserve, a 10 to 20 minute boat ride away, where there are some really interesting caves, rock formations, and swim throughs. You have a better chance of seeing larger sea life here- big tarpons, huge grouper, nurse sharks (though other species of shark are virtually non-existent) and rays, and the tunnels and caves can be breath-taking when the sun is filtering in from all sides. If the seas are high, however, (usually Nov-Jan and again in June and July) these dive sites are not possible. We're also only a 10 minute boat ride from many protected coral reefs, which can be visited all year, even in bad conditions. The coral life is extremely varied and very healthy - sponges, fans, brain coral, etc. and super colorful. We see angel fish, trumpetfish, spotted drums, triggerfish, trunk and file fish, parrotfish, lobsters, crabs, etc all the time, just not in large quantities. Things like stingrays, spotted eagle rays, nurse sharks, and turtles can be seen too. The reef itself is really the star of the show. None of the dive sites are very deep - most are between 30 and 48 feet (10 - 14m) so we can do nice long dives - up to one hour long. We also don't have any strong currents and the water stays nice and warm all year round (from 78-82 degrees farenheit) - some divers don't even wear a wetsuit. All of the PADI scuba diving courses through Divemaster level are available at the resort, and because of the calm waters in the protected lagoon, the conditions are perfect for beginners all year round. We have new equipment and a compressor onsite to fill tanks. Usually our dive groups are between 2-5 people, so you really get a personal touch and we can tailor our dive outings to each diver.

Reviews (1)

Elise October 9th, 2013 - 17:00:
The Bocas del Toro archipelago is still a (relatively) hidden gem. Described as "the Caribbean 30 years ago", it's a collection of islands, many uninhabited and covered in mangroves, that offers a laid back feel and beautiful pristine beaches, small eco-lodges, a welcoming vibe, and the opportunity to mix jungle (sloths! monkeys! tons of birds! poison dart frogs!) with stunning beaches. We stayed on Isla Bastimentos at Casa Cayuco on the east side of the island. We were very pleasantly surprised to learn there was a dive master at the next eco-lodge up the beach, and walked over to meet Abner, who runs the Zapatillas Dive Club and manages the Al Natural eco-lodge (no, not a nudist hangout!). Abner is wonderful-tons of energy and enthusiasm about diving (and life) with a hugely positive spirit - he really enjoyed the diving as much as we did. My fiance and I were the only ones on the boat the day we went out. Abner is all about fun, but also all about safety; we had dive and boat protocol briefings, and he carried redundant equipment. The Zapatillas are gorgeous isolated small islets off Bastimentos. There is diving around them, as well as at multiple other sites, all within a few minutes from shore. Our first site had a lot of surge and poor visibility-Abner and his dive captain made sure to locate better conditions for the second dive. Expect much better than average reef health compared to other usual Caribbean destinations, with plentiful small fish and some reasonable size snappers and a few grouper, along with lobster, eels, etc. Excellent variety of corals, big sponges; not super deep diving, but varied topography. As with so much of the Caribbean, not many big fish. Abner is on a lionfish eradication mission, and really cares for these reefs. He speared 3 lionfish on one dive, and after the dive made an delicious lionfish ceviche for us topside-a real treat, and totally unexpected! We didn't stay at Al Natural, but it looks nice-simple but private open air bungalows on the beach with an attractive beach bar, abutting pristine jungle and miles of shoreline trails. A local village is about a 30 minute walk away. The lodges provide employment for villagers, and the village offers jungle hikes to learn about the local culture, flora, and fauna. It's quite a special place. If you stay on the west side of the island, it is more lively, but the reefs on the west by the main town have suffered significantly from human impact. My recommendation for peace, quiet, and much better than expected diving is to stay at Casa Cayuco or Al Natural on the east end of the island and seek out Abner at Al Natural for a totally relaxed, personal, and enjoyable diving experience. Beautiful spot for non divers too!

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