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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 overview of a mangrove swamp ecosystem where sea stars, reef fish and numerous colorful invertebrate species take shelter.
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.
You will enter the water from your boat, following your guide’s instructions.
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 sticking out of the water in some places attract terns and cormorants looking for fish.
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 heads. However, reef squids are a common sight here. You will find them swimming in small groups above seagrass meadows.
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.
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.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Sandy beach and mangrove with fish and sea stars
Level: Free shore access
Shallow seagrass flats with sea stars and juvenile fish
Coral and sponges reef with lots of fish
Shallow lagoon with seagrass meadows and hard coral
Biological reserve with sharks, turtles and reef fish
Rocks and coral reef with turtles and colorful fish