Cayo Coral

The coral reefs emerging around Cayo Coral are among the most beautiful in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. Their particularly calm, clear waters, sheltered from the caprices of the open sea, have led to the development of fine, colorful coral, attracting varied underwater life. They are on the surface of the open waters, and can only be reached by boat.
How to get there?

Cayo Coral is a small island between Isla Bastimentos and Isla Popa, in the central part of the Bocas del Toro archipelago. 300 yards west of the island, the reef that breaks the water surface is the most popular snorkeling spot in the archipelago. You can visit the spot during excursions organised by a large number of local agencies. These excursions generally include stops in other snorkeling spots (including Cayo Zapatilla and Restaurante Alfonso), and sites for observing dolphins and sloths. The price of a full-day excursion is $25 to $35, not including meals. A large number of touts offer places for excursions in the street (sometimes at discount prices), but you should opt for agencies with an office. It takes about 20 minutes (10 miles) by boat from Bocas del Toro to reach Cayo Coral.

Water entrance

You enter the water from the boat. Follow the instructions of your tour guide, who will tell you where to go.

Aerial view


The area to explore is easy to see. Although it is in the middle of the water, it is shown by buoys, and it is not unusual for 4 or 5 boats to be anchored nearby.

The depth of the water is the same in all the reef area (↕10-12ft/3-4m). In the central part of the spot, small reefs, covered in turquoise, golden yellow or carmine red sponges provide a particularly colorful decor. Cone-shaped groups of coral cling to the walls, and are the favorite shelter of brittle stars, which have colonised the area. Small groups of sergeant major fish seem to mount the guard, without noticing the wrasses and grunt swimming around the reef. If you move a little further away, the underwater landscape is transformed into a field of soft coral and sea fans swaying in the waves. Parrotfish and foureye butterflyfish slip into this coral "forest", which has a host of suprises in store if you stick around a little. In the sandy parts, try to spot the yellowhead jawfish, which quickly withdraw into their burrows at the first sign of danger.

Snorkeling Report Cayo Coral Bocas del Toro Panama
Coral reef at Cayo Coral

The water is generally exceptionally calm at this spot. The main danger comes from other snorkelers (this is a very busy spot at certain times of day) and the boats that come and go on the site. Stick to the central part of the spot and stay alert.

Restaurants & accommodation

There are no restaurants on site, since the spot is in a marine park. A restaurant on stilts (about $15 per dish) is 0.5 mile away (most tour guides stop there). The area near the restaurant is also an interesting spot (see spot file here). Otherwise, you can take your own picnic. In any case, ask your tour guide what is included in the price. At the least take some water and a snack.

Snorkeling Report gives the most precise tips possible about the snorkeling spots and potential dangers, but each one of us is responsible for our own safety in the water. For more information, take a look at the snorkeling safety page. If you want to add extra information or make any corrections to the spot descriptions, please contact us.

Spot’s weather forecasts (°C)

Spot tips

  • Type of spot
  • Level of difficulty
  • Maximum depth
    12ft (3.5m)
  • Water entrance
    From a boat
  • Potential Dangers
    Usual precautions
  • Lifeguard
  • Visitor numbers
  • Access costs
    Excursion price (approx. 25$ pp.)
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Public toilets & showers

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

Species you may spot while snorkeling Cayo Coral

Common name Scientific name Abundance Fishbase Wikipedia
Stoplight parrotfish
Sparisoma viride
Sergeant major
Abudefduf saxatilis
Schoolmaster snapper
Lutjanus apodus
Barred hamlet
Hypoplectrus puella
Yellowhead jawfish
Opistognathus aurifrons
You encountered a specie at this spot that is not listed here?