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Many snorkeling tours 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.

Red cushion sea star in Bocas del Toro
Cushion sea stars are Restaurante Alfonso’s most popular marine creatures.

How to get to Restaurante Alfonso snorkeling spot?

This spot is at the southern tip of Isla Bastimentos, facing Cayo Coral, in the central part of the Bocas del Toro archipelago. Many day tours (especially those heading to Cayo Zapatilla, Cayo Coral or Dolphin Bay) include a visit to the site, which is a popular lunch spot.

It takes about twenty minutes (10 miles) by boat from Bocas del Toro to reach the destination.

Restaurante Alfonso snorkeling map, Bocas del Toro

Water entrance for snorkeling Restaurante Alfonso

A small wooden ladder allows easy water entrance. It is located between the restaurant and the picnic areas.

Restaurante Alfonso snorkeling tips

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

As soon as you will be in the water, you will see large numbers of cushion sea stars on the seagrass. Orange, yellow, beige or bright red, the starfish are photogenic and totally harmless.

Mangrove snorkeling in Bocas del Toro
The mangrove offers a very unique underwater scenery.

Swim to the end of the jetty (opposite to the restaurant) and swim towards the mangrove. The seagrass gets punctuated by small coral, very fine and fragile. As the water is very shallow (sometimes less than 2 feet), be careful you don’t break coral with your swimfins. This area is the fishiest, with many juvenile parrotfish and foureye butterflyfish.

At the edge of the mangrove, an atypical underwaterscape awaits. The atmosphere is darker and the coral gives way to a forest of roots, lightly colonized by small sponges and sea anemones. A multitude of juvenile fish is present in this mangrove area, known to be a nursery for many fish species. The mangrove is almost impenetrable, and you will mainly observe the marine life from the edge of it.

Mangrove snorkeling in Bocas del Toro
A snorkeler in Restaurante Alfonso’s shallows.

The water is shallow and generally calm and clear, which makes it an ideal spot for beginners. The shallow depths also result in excellent light for taking photos. Watch out for boat traffic.

Restaurants & accommodation nearby

You can have lunch at Restaurante Alfonso.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth4ft/1m
  • Water entranceEasy, from a wooden ladder
  • Potential DangersFire coral, boats
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersMedium
  • Access costsSnorkeling tour price (approx. 25$ pp.)
  • Restaurants nearbyYes
  • Public toilets & showersYes

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.