SCUBA DIVING IN BOCAS DEL TORO, PANAMA
Scuba Diving is one of the best things to do in Bocas del Toro.
There are 7 or more dive shops around the islands that cater to the thousands of Dive tourists that visit Bocas each year. Scuba diving is one of the best things to do in Bocas del Toro because of the wide variety of underwater features to explore and options for all skill levels of divers, including some of the cheapest ($250-$300) PADI Open Water Dive Certification Courses in the world!
Bocas del Toro is located outside of the Atlantic Hurricane Zone, so don’t worry about those big storms when you are planning your trip as we do not experience them here! In fact, the months of August, September and October, which are peak Hurricane Season months, are the best weather and flattest sea months of the year in Bocas! Bocas del Toro is also home to some amazing dive spots including deep water ledges, cave systems, sunken ships, and some of the most diverse and abundant coral reefs. At PirateArts Experience Resort, you are located right in the middle of all the action!
Scuba Dive Seasons in Bocas del Toro
The best months to Scuba Dive in Bocas del Toro are during the two dry seasons each year: the first includes February, March, April and May, followed by September, October and November. In my experience of living in Bocas del Toro, the best months for guaranteed sunshine and calm seas are May, September and October. These are the best months for scuba diving because the visibility is at its highest, and the ocean is flat with generally light winds. This also opens up the dive spots on the outside of the islands that are inaccessible during the rest of the year when there are bigger swells. These spots include Tiger Rock, Polo Beach Caves, and the Zapatilla Islands.
Bocas del Toro has some of the most diverse coral reef systems in the world, with 95% of hard and soft corals being found here. What makes Bocas del Toro a top scuba diving destination is the amount of cave systems and big underwater rock features to be explored! If you have booked your trip to Bocas del Toro during one of the not so dry months, do not fear! Thanks to the local currents around the islands, there is almost always a dive spot with clear water to be explored!
The Top 5 Dive Spots in Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro has over 15 different dive spots that are frequented by the many local dive schools. These locations include shallow reefs, walls, deep water channels, ledges, caves and more! Bocas is home to 95% of the world’s coral species, and it’s waters are home to a large population of sea turtles, nurse sharks, sting-rays, reef and pelagic fish, and dolphins. Along with these amazing sea creatures, the incredible underwater rock features, and super cheap prices, make Bocas del Toro a top diving destination. Check out our favorite Bocas del Toro Dive spots below!
#1 Tiger Rock, Kusapin
Tiger Rock is known as the best dive site in Bocas del Toro. It is located over an hour away from Bocas Town and very exposed to the open ocean and conditions making it an unfrequented dive site. The site is a rock mount that rises up from 100 feet deep to breach the surface of the water and features an abundance of marine life at all depths. It is common for divers here to see sharks, including hammer-heads and bull sharks. The water is usually very clear and strong currents are often reported.
#2 Polo Beach Caves, Isla Bastimentos
Polo Beach on Isla Bastimentos is home to an amazing underwater cave system that is only accessible when the sea is at its calmest. The caves offer shelter for huge schools of snapper and big blue parrot fish as well as Chubs and Trigger Fish. Large grouper can also be found here, as well as an abundance of lobster and octopus! The beach is one of the nicest in Bocas, so coming here for a dive and beach day is one of the best day trips available!
#3 The Old Wreck/ Ferry Boat, Isla Colon
On the South West facing side of Isla Colon lies an old sunken ferry boat that makes for a very accessible and interesting dive! The old Ferry was sunken here on purpose to create an artificial reef and fish habitat. The spot is now very popular among divers and snorkelers and features generally clear and calm waters. The boat sits between 20 and 40 feet deep and is home to an abundance of fish. You can peek inside the ferry and see into the old Captains Quarters, where it is not uncommon to see huge snapper and grouper species hanging out! An old toilet that is fastened to the top of the boat is a favorite spot for underwater selfies!
#4 White House & Manuel’s Wall, Isla Solarte
These two spots are also just a quick 3-5 minute boat ride from Bocas Town and can be accessed year round due to their location on the inside of the islands and are some of the most frequented by the local dive companies. White House features a shallower entry area with nice corals that drops off into a deep water channel that reaches depths of 100 feet! Manuel’s Wall is located inside this deep channel and, “consists of two walls, the first at 14 meters and the second at 22 meters. The walls are populated by large gorgonian corals and sponges, as well as snapper, grouper, and reef fish. A watchful eye will reveal a Columbus-Era anchor still lodged in the second wall at about 20m, thoroughly encrusted with growth but still very identifiable. (Source: Discoverer: http://divescover.com/dive-site/manuel-s-wall/40366).
#5 Hospital Point, Isla Solarte
Hospital Point on Isla Solarte is just a quick 3-5 minute boat ride from Bocas Town, and is named after an old Hospital set up by the United Fruit Company to treat their workers. The dive spot features a beautiful wall of coral starting at a few meters deep and reaching down to around 16 meters. There are a few small cracks and ledges on the wall which are frequented by larger fish and you can often see pelagic fish swimming by the area looking for food!
Scuba Diving at PirateArts Experience Resort
PirateArts Experience Resort is conveniently located just a quick 2 minute boat ride away from the best Scuba Diving Businesses in Bocas del Toro. The most frequented dive spots are also within a 5-10 minute boat ride from our resort. This means that our guests can enjoy being immersed in our tropical surroundings and enjoying the serenity of nature while being close enough to Bocas Town to be able to get on a water taxi and switch islands in minutes!
Are you ready to plan your next Scuba Diving Trip to Bocas del Toro?
Article Written by Drew Berger
Drew is a web designer and blogger who has lived in Bocas del Toro since 2015. He is the owner of The Bocas del Toro Blog, a travel blog about Bocas del Toro. Drew is passionate about surfing, spearfishing, and showing people the best that Bocas del Toro has to offer!