Restaurante Alfonso

Many excursions in the Bocas del Toro archipelago take in a visit to this small restaurant situated at the southern tip of Isla Bastimentos, facing Cayo Coral. Around a few buildings on stilts, at the edge of the mangrove, you can see, in less than 3 feet of water, starfish, coral and many species of fish. It is an ideal spot for beginners.
How to get there?

This spot is at the southern tip of Isla Bastimentos, facing Cayo Coral, in the central part of the Bocas del Toro archipelago. Many all-day excursions (especially to Cayo Zapatilla, Cayo Coral or Dolphin Bay) include a visit to the site, where you can have a meal at a restaurant. Count on $30 to 40 per person for a day’s excursion, not including the meal. A large number of touts in the street will offer to reserve your excursion (sometimes at bargain prices), but you should opt for agencies with an office. It takes about twenty minutes (10 miles) by boat from Bocas del Toro to reach the destination.

Water entrance

You will soon spot a small wooden ladder where you can easily enter the water on one of the walkways set up between the restaurant and the picnic areas.

Aerial view


You can explore the entire area around the buildings, up to the edge of the mangrove.
The depth of the water is the same in all the area (↕2-4ft/0.5-1m).

Snorkeling Report Alfonso Bocas del Toro Panama
Cushion seastar at Restaurante Alfonso

The moment you are in the water, you will see a whole host of cushion sea star on the seagrass, one of the symbols of Bocas del Toro. Orange, yellow, beige or bright red, the starfish are extremely photogenic and totally harmless. Go to the end of the jetty (on the side opposite the restaurant) and swim towards the mangrove. The seagrass is replaced little by little by young groups of coral. They are very fine and fragile, and the water is very shallow (sometimes less than 2 feet), so be careful you don’t hit them with your swimfins. Here the seabed has the most fish, with, among others, many young parrotfish and foureye butterflyfish. Move closer to the mangrove to discover an atypical and almost disquieting decor: the atmosphere grows darker and the coral gives way to a forest of roots, lightly colonized by small sponges and sea anemone. Given the multitude of fish larva to be seen in this area, you will realize that the mangroves are genuine nurseries for a great many fish. You can only see this spectacle from the edge of the mangrove, since it becomes quickly impenetrable.

The water is shallow and generally calm and clear, which makes it an ideal spot for children and beginners. The shallow depths also result in excellent light for taking photos. Watch out for boats that come and go on this site when you are out to sea. And you should also be careful you don’t hit your head against the wooden stilts as you are swimming (watch where you are going!).

Restaurants & accommodation

You can have a meal at a restaurant built on stilts (Restaurante Alfonso). You generally have to order your dish a little in advance. Otherwise, you can take your own picnic. You should take a minimum supply of water and snacks.

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
    4 ft
  • Water entrance
    Easy, from a wooden ladder
  • Potential Dangers
    Fire coral, boats
  • Lifeguard
  • Visitor numbers
  • Access costs
    Excursion price (approx. 25$ pp.)
  • Restaurants nearby
    Yes, moderately expensive
  • Public toilets & showers

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

Species you may spot while snorkeling Restaurante Alfonso

Common name Scientific name Abundance Fishbase Wikipedia
Cushion sea star
Oreaster reticulatus
Foureye butterflyfish
Chaetodon capistratus
Sabella sp.
You encountered a specie at this spot that is not listed here?