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The coral reefs emerging around Cayo Coral are among the most beautiful in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. Their calm, clear waters, sheltered from the open sea, have allowed the growth of fine, colorful coral and sponges, attracting a fascinating underwater life.

Graysby in Cayo Coral
Graysby (Cephalopholis cruentata, a member of the groupers family) are pretty common at Cayo Coral’s reef.

How to get to Cayo Coral snorkeling spot?

Cayo Coral is a small island between Isla Bastimentos and Isla Popa, in the central part of the Bocas del Toro archipelago.

This spot is mainly reached by tours organized by a large number of local agencies. These tours generally include stops in several snorkeling spots (including Cayo Zapatilla and Restaurante Alfonso) and the opportunity to watch dolphins and sloths. The price of a full-day tour is $25 to $35, not including meals.

The boat trip from Bocas del Toro to Cayo Coral takes about 20 minutes.

Water entrance for snorkeling Cayo Coral

Water entrance is from a boat. Follow the instructions of your captain.

Cayo Coral snorkeling map, Bocas del Toro

Cayo Coral’s reef snorkeling tips

Cayo Coral is a very popular and easy-to-locate patch reef. Some buoys, on which several boats can be moored at the same time, have been installed near the reef.

The depth is constant all over the reef area (↕10-12ft/3-4m). In the central part of the spot, small coral heads, covered in turquoise, golden or carmine sponges create a colorful underwaterscape.

Coral shelters hundreds of brittle stars, very common throughout the area. Small schools of sergeant major, wrasse and grunt are easy to spot around the reef. If you are lucky, you may encounter a gray angelfish, a French angelfish or a queen angelfish around.

Sponges and coral
Cayo Coral hosts very original underwaterscapes, made of colorful sponges and coral.

If you snorkel a little further away from the reef, you’ll reach fields of sea fans swaying in the current. Stoplight parrotfish and foureye butterflyfish hide in this coral “forest”, which is very pleasant to explore. In the sandy be, try to spot the rare and shy yellowhead jawfish.

The sea is generally very 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.

French angelfish pair in Cayo Coral
Gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) often pay a visit to Cayo Coral’s reef.

Restaurants & accommodation nearby

There are no restaurants on-site since the spot is in a marine park. A restaurant on stilts, where some tours drop their clients for lunch, is located 500m away. Always ask your tour guide what is included in the price before booking.

 

  • Level required Intermediate
  • Maximum depth12ft/3.5m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • Potential DangersUsual precautions
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price (from 25$ pp.)
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

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.