Sunday, January 18, 2015

Panama - Isla Boca Brava

Next stop: the Pacific Coast just a few hours bus ride away from Boquete. We heard about the coastal village of Boca Chica from the expats in town, they use it as their beach getaway spot when they need some sun and heat or want to go deep sea fishing. The said there's a great little island with a couple hotels and lots of monkeys just a quick boat ride out from Boca Chica.

We were only able to reserve one night at Hotel Boca Brava but it was a lovely night in a breezy room overlooking the water. The food was disappointing and the service was perhaps the slowest I've ever experienced so it was a good thing there was a nice view from the restaurant and an ocean breeze to keep us cool-ish.

Hiking along the trails on the island, we took our time that afternoon we arrived, stopping to swim at a couple of warm, sandy beaches and stalked the howler monkeys and the butterflies in the forest.

The next day we went on the snorkel trip to 2 islands out in the bay. The first stop had pretty good snorkeling, the water was super clear and there were a few colorful fish. The next island we stopped at had a gorgeous beach with ultra calm inviting water for swimming. We saw one sea turtle and a few dolphins on our way back to Boca Brava.

Night #2 we were lucky enough to stumble upon a new lodging establishment on the island that had no advertising or internet presence save for the homemade sign along the trail that said they rent tents. Well ok, for $30 per night they give you a round canvas tent like a little yurt, with a mattress, sheets, a fan and a little colorful light. It was really cute! Then there was the one honeymooners' suite which was a gorgeous wood cabin on stilts with floor-to-ceiling windows and an awesome view. Chops and I got that one and it was a good thing since the whole "you can drink the water in Panama" thing caught up with us. Actually it could have been the warm, soggy tuna sandwiches we ate for lunch that I didn't have a good feeling about....

After one last meal of excruciatingly slow service at Hotel Boca Brava we made travel plans and booked our seats on a shuttle (same Mamallena Hostel shuttle) to get to Santa Catalina the next day. It was $35 instead of $15 on slow, crowded, hot chicken buses with multiple transfers, but worth it for the comfort and the speed.

Final review of the island? Seeing lots of monkeys and butterflies and having a jungle trail for our morning trail run was awesome! Very few people but a few misbehaved dogs that terrorize the wildlife.

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