The small reef extending west of Bocas Town is the closest snorkeling spot from Bocas del Toro main city. Don’t hesitate to cast an eye there before heading to the more famous spots of the archipelago (like Playa Estrella and Cayo Coral). Despite a pretty dull marine environment, this spot gives a good insight of a mangrove swamp ecosystem where sea stars, reef fish and numerous colorful invertebrate species take shelter.

Cushion starfish and sponges in Bocas Town
A red sponge and a cushion starfish (oreaster reticulatus) at Bocas Town reef flat.

How to get to Bocas Town snorkeling spot?

The spot is located about 1 km west of Bocas Town. It can only be accessed by boat. Several companies in town sell snorkeling tours (about 2 hours long, generally including another snorkeling stop at the nearby spot of Barco Hundido). The boat trip from Bocas Town’s jetty to the spot only takes a few minutes.

Bocas Town snorkeling area map

Water entrance for snorkeling Bocas Town

You will enter the water from your boat, following your guide’s instructions.

Bocas Town snorkeling exploration tips

The snorkeling area is extending on the island’s west side. It consists in a reef fringing a mangrove swamp. The reef flat is about 100 to 150 m large, it is a shallow area (↕1-1,50m), well sheltered from waves and currents. Numerous concrete pillars stick out of the water in some places, attracting terns and cormorants looking for fish.

Caribbean reef squid in Bocas Town seagrass meadows
Caribbean reef squid (sepioteuthis sepioidea) are fairly common in Bocas Town seagrass meadows.

The reef flat is made of sandy areas and seagrass meadows. A few reefs covered with sponges, porites, sabella and sea anemones can also be found here and there. Cushion starfish love this sheltered environment: you will find them in numbers, boasting many colors from bright red to pale yellow (some of them are even greenish). There are not a lot of fish on the reef flat, except a few grunts and wrasses swimming around coral bommies. However, reef squids are a common sight here. You will find them going by in small groups above seagrass meadows.

Sea anemone in Bocas Town
Bocas Town sea anemones are nice subjects for underwater photography.

Swimming closer to the shore, you will discover underwater “forests” made of mangrove trees. Mangroves are an atypical underwater world, found almost everywhere in Bocas Del Toro archipelago. The trees’ roots make a perfect shelter for juvenile fish from numerous species, as they are not accessible to many bigger predators. In the Bocas Town mangrove, you will spot schools of thousands of juvenile fish as well as grunts, snappers and pufferfish. Keep an eye on the roots, where small arrow crabs can sometimes be spotted.

Restaurants and accommodation in Bocas Town

The spot is in a natural environment, but you will find in Bocas Town a wide choice of restaurants, supermarkets and accommodation fitting all budgets.

 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth6ft/2m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price
  • Restaurants nearbyNo

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.