As I head north to Costa Rica today, I wanted to finish up a blog about my time in Panama. I’ve spent more time in Bocas Del Toro than I had planned, but with good reason. The place is absolutely beautiful and is very relaxed.
My third day on the island, I hiked to Polo Beach, the place that I had attempted the day before but didn’t have the energy or the desire to walk that far alone. The owner of the hostel and two Spaniards came as well. After walking 2.5 hours through the jungle and along several beaches, we finally arrived at Polo Beach. No doubt that it was worth the hike. It’s one of those beaches you see in the pictures: clear and serene water, a coral reef, palm trees, no buildings, and hardly any people around. Snorkeling there was fantastic. After swimming around for 45 minutes with the Spaniard, both of us spotted a ray (we think it was an eagle ray). Nothing gets your heart beating faster than spotting one of these swimming slowly in your direction. Suddenly, you feel so slow, isolated, and vulnerable (even though it’s probably not a dangerous one). It swam in another direction as the Spaniard and I tried to catch our breath after the exhilarating moment. There were, of course, many other types of fish ranging in size from an inch to a foot in length. After taking in three hours or so of the beach, we walked an hour to a marina and took a water taxi back to the hostel.
I liked the beach so much that I went again the following day, this time each way by water taxi. I can’t put into words how beautiful this beach is. It’s really the typical Caribbean beach. Snorkeling again, this time alone, I again saw a ray swimming in my direction. This one looked bigger and kind of freaked me out, probably moreso that I was alone. I panic a bit and start swimming towards shore as fast as I could. After going 100 feet, I couldn’t see the ray any more so I relaxed a bit. Then, I look to my left and see another one about 25 feet away resting on the sand on the ground, not moving at all. Of course, I panic again and swim as fast as I could to shore. That was the end of my snorkeling!
I went to a bar here a few nights ago, just to see what it’s like. The bar is called Coco Bar, located in the town on a dock. The entire bar was not more than 300 square feet, covered by a roof but no walls. Because it’s a Caribbean culture, everyone wears shorts, a tshirt, and sandals. The place only seated about 30 people and had the same amount of space in the middle for people to dance to salsa, bachata, or any other Latin music they’d play. The bar was a small window in a tiny room that looked more like a coat check-in than a place where they’d serve alcohol. The funniest part to me was that since we are on a dock, the guys would walk to the end of the dock to urinate when needed. So just 20 feet away, a guy might be peeing into the sea while everyone else is enjoying the dance floor.
I had plans to head out of my hostel yesterday towards Red Frog Beach where I’d be able to set up my tent and camp. However, there was a huge rain here in the morning, raining for an hour like the sky was falling. I saw on the weather channel that it was supposed to rain off and on all day, so I stayed in the hostel one more day to relax, use my computer, and just enjoy the atmosphere of Isla Bastimentos. Today, I’ll head north to Costa Rica to a town called Puerto Viejo. I do not have too much time left to travel as I need to be Nicaragua on the 13th or 14th of June. I’ll do a few quick days in Costa Rica and then continue to head north to Granada.
Just on note on how much I’ve spent so far. After a full week of traveling so far, I’ve spent about $200 on everything not including my plane ticket to Panama. In the 5 days I’ve spent in Bocas Del Toro, I’ve spent about $120 total. In other words, for $120, I snorkeled 3 times, spent plenty of time at an amazing Caribbean beach, kayaked for 5 hours, learned about an interesting Caribbean culture, and a huge amount of time by the water. I did not eat out much so that was a help. I was paying $7 a night for the room in the hostel, and all of the water taxis and even the food from the supermarket added up to a majority of the cost. I just wanted to point this out to show that travel does not have to be expensive if you’re frugal!
The easiest way to add several pictures is on Facebook, so click here to see pictures from my trip so far!