Mister Blue Sky discovered very different types of coral in the shallow water off of Shepherd’s Island in the Bocas del Toro area. The coral surrounded the entire island and disappeared after about 15 feet of depth as the wall sloped down into 50 feet of water. This made for phenomenal snorkeling in real calm clear water off of the Starfish Reef Resort..
Mister Blue Sky took the Pacific scuba plunge with Boca Brava Divers on La Bruja (The Witch) which is an ancient lava monolith located within Islas Secas Panama. Click on the GoPro Hero 3 video taken by Mister Blue Sky
Islas Secas is a group of 16 small volcanic islands about 15 miles from Boca Chica Panama. These islands are privately owned and uninhabited except for a high end fishing lodge, Islas Secas Resort. “Secas” means dry. The islands looked pretty parched and stressed for lack of rain because it has been the dry season. It is a pretty area and the waters are relatively clear but not Bahamas or Caribbean water clear.
I want to give a shout out to my 2 dive buddies Tim and Don who were on vacation from the States with their wives. They stopped in for a couple of beers at Gone Fishing Panama while I was playing bartender. They were looking for additional divers to offset the cost of a day’s diving with Boca Brava Divers. Good guys for sure, I enjoyed meeting and diving with them.
We dove with Boca Brava Divers which is located in Boca Chica Panama. It is owned by Carlos Spragge which he operates out of his boat yard and boat storage facility. I like Carlos. He has a very good sense of humor but more importantly he is definitely conscience about his dive operation. He is also a dive master. He radio’d the boat a couple of times during the day to make sure everything was going well. He has the good fortune of having Julio as an alternate Dive Master for 6 months of the year. Julio was trained on Utila about 15 years ago…Go Utila! Julio spends the other 6 months in Europe……ah the life of a dive master and physical therapist…..so yes Julio was our dive master along with Chino our panga dive boat captain. Chino is a good conscience dive boat captain. A big shout out to both Julio and Chino, thanks guys. Boca Brava Divers also has a bigger dive boat for larger groups and multi day trips that will go as far as Coiba Island. See the website for additional info.
Scuba diving on the Pacific side of Panama is not cheap. Its an all day affair because the diving action is a considerable ways from the main land. We collectively paid $600, $200 each for 2 tank dives plus lunch and drinks. The run from Boca Chica to La Bruja in Islas Secas was about an hour each way. Tim, Don and I definitely had a good time that day thanks to Julio and Chino. This excursion also gave me the opportunity to see the Islas Secas islands. They are very pretty for sure from the on the water perspective. I am sure that the fishing in and around these islands is very good.
Lets talk about the dives. Th first dive was on La Bruja which basically is a volcanic rock-lava mount that rises from about 65ft off the bottom and breaks the surface by at most 6-8 feet. The dive is basically once around the rock. La Bruja has substantial wildlife from sharks, skates, Guitar Fish, lobster, rays, turtles with all kinds of tropical fish, schools of bait-jacks-spadefish as well as many other fish. This was a very entertaining dive. The visibility was ok, not great and varied as we circumnavigated La Bruja as did the temperature. La Bruja is like an underwater monolith…..tall, steep and dark. A significant contrast to diving on coral walls or sea mounts. Ok you divers….what is the hand signal for a Guitar Fish?……yep air guitar! Pretty funny seeing your dive master all of a sudden go into air guitar mode…..made me forget to video the 3 that we saw. Tropical fish were cleaning a turtle’s shell. Eagle Rays were spotted in the distance. There were many schools of fish big and small that were seen in the distance but did not get captured in the video. Most of the fish were in depths between 10-40 feet. There were much fewer fish in the base area of the volcanic monolith.
We did the second dive after our lunch break. Carlos provided a variety of fresh fruits already cut into slices as well as excellent fixings for creating one’s own deli sandwiches. We anchored right off of a white sand beach…you do not find many bright beaches on the Pacific side of Panama, they are usually dark brown like the one below;
We had the option to picnic on the beach but all elected to hang on the panga. Afterwards we headed over to a small island about a half mile away for our second and final dive. The visibility was poor compared to La Bruja and there was not near the same quality and volume of wild life.
Mister Blue Sky enjoyed the dive trip. Being able to dive on the Pacific side of the Tropical Highway off of Panama was a new liquadic adventure. This Pacific submersion upon lava rocks was a real contrast to the corals of the clear Caribbean waters. Hopefully there will be future volcanic underworld adventures in the tropical Pacific waters.
Till Next Tide Blog Flockers,
Mister Bue Sky,
The Hammock Philosopher
Mister Blue Sky Blogged a few days ago that on the Pacific Tropical Highway “tings” are bigger like giant Yellowfin Tuna or twice the size Sailfish …. well the next day he captured King Cong just off the coast of Boca Brava island …. use your imagination and enjoy this natural wonder which is a lava rock sculptured over time by the natural elements … see the carved out shoulders and head figure staring out to sea.
Till Next Tide Blog Flockers
Mister Blue Sky
Waxing Philosophic In a Panamanian Hammock
Ps Carrie You Are The Best
Hola Mi Blogflockers…….Mister Blue Sky is still on the Central American Tropical Highway but …… been so busy between chasing islands and beaches and surf breaks and small resorts and eco lodges in the Bocas del Toro area that there has been little hammock time and energy to blog on blog off ….. here’s waddup:
Mister Blue Sky rolled his hammock up over the mountains of Panama last Friday. He left the Bocas del Toro archipelago and the Caribbean Tropical Highway for the Pacific Tropicville Road. Presently staying at “Gone Fishing Panama’, a boutique resort in the Boca Chica area which is the staging grounds for some of the best fishing in the world. The three and a half hour bus ride (or should I say $9 roller coaster) to David (Daaveed) across the mountains takes you from the rainforest jungle with mountain water falls on every curve to the dry season on the Pacific side with cleared hillsides for agriculture and cattle. Size matters on the Tropical Highway of the Panamanian Pacific coast compared to the Bahamas and Caribbean. The fish are more diverse and overall bigger. In fact fish like Yellowfin Tuna get as big as a lot of the Blue Marlin that are caught in the Bahamas and Caribbean. Even the tides are bigger. Over in Bocas del Toro they have 18 inch tides. The Pacific coast in the Boca Chica area has 9-12 foot tides. Its comparing small Caymans to saltwater Crocodiles. But …… the Wahoo Are bigger in the Bahamas….Go Cat Island!
As I posted on the Facebook page Mister Blue Sky was invited by Mr “C” (Mark Charman) to visit his world class world famous fishing resort yesterday; The Panama Big Game Fishing Club, with resident monkeys swinging through the trees. He acquired it about two years ago and has completed significant renovations with new additions to be built in the near future . We’ve shared a few drinks the last few evenings. This is a first class fishing lodge-resort. His clientele fly in from all parts of the world. People with plenty of money but little time. So Mr “C’ has catered this fishing resort to the highest of standards. Check out their website or Facebook page or the pictures posted on my Facebook page. When Mr “C’ is done the Panama Big Game Fishing Club will be second to none (in the world).
Speaking of fishing lodges; I am staying at Bruce Edwards’ “Gone Fishing Panama” boutique resort. One of the first big game fishing lodges in the Boca Chica area after the formation of the original Panama Big Game Fishing Club. Now there are several in the area. I have already extended my stay here by another week because ….
BREAKING NEWS: Mister Blue Sky has been asked to mate for a few fishing trips …. I guess showing some pics of monster wahoo, lobster and Crab enabled me to pass the interviews … details to follow and hopefully some photos and videos …. here’s betting that if a Yellowfin Tuna is caught it will break Mister Blue Sky’s biggest ever …. hopefully there will also be Rooster-fish activity …
Mister Blue Sky actually rented a car at the David Airport after busing there from Bocas del Toro. Reserved through Expedia.com with Payless Car Rental. Arrived at Payless to find a note on the door saying out to lunch for an hour and half … waited the time and left without a car since the guy could not find my reservation and had no cars so …. walked 30 feet and rented one from Hertz; drove to Boca Chica and the Gone fishing Panama resort .. about an hour drive. I guess Payless means you pay less because they have no cars …
Gone Fishing Panama has a great set up with a beautiful view looking out from the open-air bar and restaurant. Mister Blue Sky was put in the “Monkey Room” not sure if there is any hidden meaning intended. It is a nice set up … in a separate building with two suites each with large private covered porches. There is a large infinity pool for Mister Blue Sky to perform his laps as well as a very large concrete pier running out to deeper water with a large ramp down to a floating dock … 8-12 foot tides here. Andrei is the chef and bartender when not cooking …. plus can be considered a security-body guard as well if such ever be necessary. He is originally from Moscow. I am told that there are about 3000 Russians now living in Panama. He speaks Spanish as well but very little English. I am getting better with hand signal communications … kind of like air guitar! oh ya … there is a hammock here near the infinity pool …. not sure if I have to wrestle the Iguanas to use it.
Mister Blue Sky has been on the tropical Pacific side of Panama for 5 days and has yet to be bitten by a bug .. no mosquitos … no no seeums … there are bugs here but not the biting type .. unless you count scorpions or tarantulas … the non biters is pretty amazing considering the last 5 evenings have been spent at Gone Fishing Panama’s open air bar area which means basically outdoors with a roof.
Mister Blue Sky really never blogged about the Bocas del Toro adventure and the essence of that area. Bocas Town on the island of Colon is the hub for all that is Bocas del Toro … Bocas Town is like a very seedy wild wild west Dodge City with a tropical flare. Its Key West without the heritage but then again not …. Some decent waterfront restaurants, decent waterfront party bars a la Utila style .. lots of tourists and lots of back packers hitting the hostels … Very good surfing with quality surf breaks scattered through out the various islands and a handful right on Colon. The scuba diving is …. well …. not worth going to Bocas just to dive .. its expensive and practically all the dives are not in the ocean but rather in about 45 feet of water on the inside of the ocean side islands … plus the dive boats are just pangas and not equipped to go out to the ocean. The fishing industry is about the same as the scuba diving …. hardly a quality boat to go into the ocean to fish and only a handful of guides to take one fishing. Someone is really missing the “boat” considering the large number of tourists flocking in by the hour. There are 10-12 boutique resorts or eco lodges scattered on the various islands making up Bocas del Toro. Plenty of hotels and hostels in Bocas Town. You can not operate without owning a boat unless you want to pay the fleet of panga tour guides to get you there and back … where ever there is …
Well need to stop the presses for tonight to get ready for the first time ever fishing endeavor in one of the best game fishing areas in the world … no guarantees .. its called fishing, not catching, for a reason …. plus as the infamous Walt the Arab used to say on his radio show from back in the day … “its better to be lucky than good” .. although someone once said and many since that .. “luck is when preparation meets opportunity” … but quoting from Mister Blue Sky’s tropical fishing wisdom … “he who waits longer catches longer fish” or more importantly .. ” a successful fishing trip is when you get back to the dock, everything else is just gravy” ….. looks like its time to count fat tunas jumping over the transom in order to fall asleep …
Till the next 12 foot tide and hoping to have a bragosiuos fishing story …
Thanks for tuning in Blogflockers,
Mister Blue Sky
Ps Carrie you are the best!
Hola Mi Blog Flockeros de Bocas del Toro, Panama
Mister Blue Sky has received a plethora of requests to post pics from his days gone by on the Tropical Highway of the Bahamas. Most of the Hammock Philosopher’s aquatic tropical wisdom is based on the “cinco” decades of spending serious time on or under the Tropicville Road of the Bahamas. When Mister Blue Sky sees for himself prettier water than that throughout the Bahamas he will let you know. To date there has been nothing close here in Central America. The Spanish named the Bahamas, originally “Bahamar” for shallow sea. Looking out upon the shallow waters of the Bahamas is intoxicating …. too much will cause “tropical liquadic addiction” … I was addicted at the age of seven and still have not shaken it especially after discovering Cat Island and Hawks Nest Resort & Marina 9 years ago. Technically Cat Island is about 40 miles north of the Tropic of Cancer but do not tell that to the surrounding ocean … So Mister Blue Sky will from time to time post images of days past from the Bahamas. The above picture was created by Mister Blue Sky and the images were taken by him as well all at Cat Island. How about the image of the Cat e’ Shack on the cooler! You can click on the picture to enlarge it or click on the top Blog Logo to go to the blog itself.
Happy Tropical Trails and Thanks For The Tropical Memories!
Till Next Tide,
Mister Blue Sky,
waxing philosophic in a hammock along the Tropical Highway in Central America
Hola el Blog Flockeros, I hope you are still out there …I am still alive (barely) and finning in Bocas Town of Bocas del Toro, Panama
I survived zip lining two days ago .. I think I did … the worst part was that you had to type rope across suspended sections of cable, plus 4 inch wide logs connected to cable and then try to walk across a long set of horizontal wood boards connected to cable topped off by a tarzan like swing …… all suspended over extremely deep ravines …… in order to reach different zip line platforms … which there are many zip line runs …. this happened at the BASTIMENTOS SKY ZIPLINE CANOPY TOUR. which is located at the Red Frog Resort on Bastimentos Island. This island is a 12 minute boat run from Bocas Town and the majority of it is a National Rainforest Park. The not so sane people that were in my group all said this is the best zip lining in Central America …… so why would Mister Blue Sky give up the comfort of a hammock to partake in an adrenalin rushing-heart pumping-terrifying-death defying voluntary adventure of LunaticLining through a tropical rainforest …. all while dodging red frogs, ducking from swinging mono’s (monkeys) plus collision evading tactics with sloths (non moving of course)?
The answer is that its a damn small planet ….. my niece Laurel and friends’ Central American College Spring Break Tour somehow intersected with Mister Blue Sky on the Tropical Highway here in Bocas del Toro …. so we spent part of the last three days/nights not chill-axing but thrill-axing. They stayed at one of the biggest party hostels in all of Central America, Mondo Taitu (see website link under blog roll). Besides having amazing dinners and drinks at Rip Tide’s and at El Ultimo Refugio’s-great Mojito’s and the LunaticLining we also “chartered” … lol …. one of the billion 25ft panga taxi-tour boats (that are here) for an afternoon of cruising and snorkeling topped off by a visit to the world famous Aqua Lounge Bar and Hostel which is a dockside party zone located on Carenero island … which is about 10 coconut throws from Bocas Town. (see the website link under blog roll)
I want to give a big shout out to these Troppo Spring Breakers from the Tampa Bay Florida area … great times … thank you Laurel, Megan, Ryleigh, Lindsey, Laura, Tracy and their personal male model of the troup, Tone. Thanks for the work out schedule Tone! Happy Trails!
So this was Mister Blue Sky’s activity for the past few days but “what about…” all the other days ….? What about Bob? What about Bob? …. Well there has been a snorkel cruise, surf break explorations, beach excursions, a dolphin harassment tour as well as a lot of walking around Bocas Town at literally every hour of the day …a great deal of time being mist-on’d, rained on and dodging wet weather … researching the Bocas del Toro area on the internet … hanging out at either La Buga (a combo scuba dive/surf shop plus restaurant/bar) or at Rip Tides (floating restaurant and bar). A short part of this I spent with Ashley, why …? because its a damn small planet! … Ashley was one of my original dive buddies back on Utila 8 weeks ago (previously pictured in an earlier blog) and once again her back-packing path has intersected with Mister Blue Sky on the Tropical Highway … congrats to Ashley for she has a gig with the Smithsonian Research Center here in Bocas del Toro …
I saw a beach that is orange by the way …. Bluff Beach .. renamed “La Playa de Gator” by your’s truly. That orange looks great by the blue waves …. Gator Nation is everywhere! I saw a frog or frogs … one was red the other orange …there are a lot of tropical frogs around here .. lots of species … colors etc. Thus a beach on the island of Bastimento is called “Red Frog Beach” … sounds real attractive and romantic right? There is a beach on Colon (which is actually the name of the island that Bocas Town is on) called Starfish Beach …. yes you guessed it … there are lots of huge starfish … in fact this whole Bocas del Toro area has a Carl Sagan billion large starfish …. which leads me into my next agenda … mañana I head to Shepherd’s or Pastores Island for a few days at the Starfish Reef Resort,its an eco lodge … its about a 25 minute boat run … looking forward to meeting Jack and Kelly the owner/operators of this awesome place (see website under blog roll)
I have taken more pictures than there are pangas here … that is a lot trust me … I will try and post these soon … Mister Blue Sky has a lot of Blog Flockers asking for pics because really for all of us this Bocas del Toro area has been off the Tropical radar … I will hopefully post these soon .. the problem is internet speed ….
One final Tropical Highway note … the vessels that go by Mister Blue Sky’s 3rd floor hotel window (and even anchor out) at Hotel Olas is freaking awesome … from dugout canoes to huge (beyond mega) yachts to the baddest of bad sail boats, a US Coast Guard Cutter, real truck carrying ferries and a Carl Sagan billion pangas plus lots of dingies and one ‘fold-a-boat”.. the boat show is off the planet troppo when you realize where this is … I will post these pics … you have to check them out!
Alright, I have to pack, eat etc. for the speed boat-person ferry to Starfish Reef tomorrow so I will bring this to an alto … thank you for tuning in to The Hammock Philosopher Blog, by Mister Blue Sky
Till Next Tide Blog Flockers!
Carrie you are the Best!
Mister Blue Sky
Hasta La Vista Utila, Honduras —- Hola Bocas Del Toro Panama
To Utila: A drinking island with a diving problem
L.P.D. Utila – Live Dive Party Utila
Hasta la vista Utila y adios a amigos locales me. A todos mis nuevos amigos muchas gracias por los buenos tiempos! Muchas gracias a todos en Alton’s Dive Center.
Until we meet again Utila and goodbye to my local friends. Thank you for the great times to my new friends (from around the world). A special thanks to everyone at Alton’s. Please feel free to send me “friend requests” on Facebook and follow Mister Blue Sky on the Road to Tropicville. I apologize for not properly saying goodbye the last evening but the Utila monsoon swept everyone into their thatched huts, me included. Great memories, thanks to all for letting this Yank share a tank and …. other ‘tings’!
From the classic goodbye saying of the late Roy Rogers and wife Dale with a tropical twist by Mister Blue Sky: “Happy Tropical Trails To You … Until We Meet Again”
This is a picture of Brits, German, Honduran, Aussie and Canadians; all fellow dockdekkers (and new friends) flocking together for the last time at Alton’s to toast the sunset and good times. Cheers, Salud to all!
Bocas del Toro, Panama:
I arrived at 7:05 AM Sunday morning in bad weather. Took a taxi for $2 to Casa Verde which is a waterfront hostel and was able to get a private room without bathroom for $35 for one night. No comment on the room quality but it served its purpose. I walked around Bocas Town for a couple of hours to check out other lodging and fortunately found Hotel Olas de la Madrugada (see website under blog roll) just a short walk from Casa Verde and moved in first thing Monday morning. Three story waterfront on quieter side of town with open air bar-restaurant over the water and another open air covered porch on second story which is where Mister Blue Sky’s has set up his office and where he is presently drafting this blog posting.
$42 tax included for room with ac, tv and good internet plus thin walls. In the Bahamas this room would cost $175 and up. Its now Tuesday morning and the weather is still ugly, but I am truly enjoying my new office perch, 14 boats moored up 400 yards away and a marina with lots of sail boats next to them; plus a local boat cruises by every 30 seconds-most are small panga tour boats with canopies draped or water taxi’s ferrying people around in the mist and rain, a few small skiffs scurrying about all of which are bailing out rain water. I am in no hurry, no commitments, no where that I need to be, so about the weather — NO WORRIES I AM CONTENT.
I may have been too conservative about a boat every 30 seconds, more like every moment and I am on the quiet side of Bocas Town. Its ironic that Mister Blue Sky started his tropical adventure on Utila with the first ten days of rain, mist and clouds, and after two days of traveling in similar weather, its still the same but as I just stated “aino tingmon I be aappy” …… boats boats tropical waters and islands in view with so many “man o war” birds you would think they are seagulls too.
If Utila is a drinking island with a diving problem I will have to wax philosophic for proper monicker for the Bocas del Toro area …. it will involve boats, drinking, surfing, zip lining, snorkeling, fishing, island hopping, water taxi’s (no tuktuks) and ………
Panama-its currency is the US dollar, not sure how they get it or print it but that is the official currency. Panama means “abundant fish” … lots and lots and lots of fish on both the Caribbean and Pacific coast. I will finally break out the 12lb spinning rod/reel and my 20lb open face rod/reel that I have been lugging around. The Bocas del Toro area is on the Caribbean side very close to Costa Rica. We are talking about islands and cays and rocks with trees. It is an archipelago which includes more than 30 islands and cays plus another 200 islets. Excellent surfing on the outer ones with many real tropical sand beaches. Bocas Town is the only real town area. It is located on the island Colon. You can ferry in per a very large car carrying ferry or take the numerous go fast people panga ferries that seem to blow by every few minutes plus fly in commercial from either Panama City or San Jose Costa Rica which is how I arrived. This is an all water tropical sport area with lots of tropical jungle critters plus chocolate farms. Food prices are higher than Utila but plenty of $7.50 bottles of Ron Flor de Cano rum. There are several surf camps and surfing schools here. Hotel Olas de la Madrugada has an over head rack in the bar-restaurant area with several surf boards to rent plus there are kayaks, bicycles as well as snorkel gear to rent. As I have mentioned in prior blogs I am traveling heavy, no backpacker here, more like a flashpackersorous. I brought 2 sets of fins, 2 snorkels, 5 masks, 5 rash guards, 6 pairs of board shorts, 3 pairs of polarized sun glasses and a soft tackle box that looks like a giant fanny pack. Hotel Las Olas also have 3 panga style tour boats to run guests out to other areas for ‘excursional’ pleasures.
I briefly checked out the scuba diving industry in Bocas Town yesterday. It is very small and under developed. In my opinion its because they do not want to go out to the deeper water. Which may be directly related to the small boats. They primarily dive 5-10 minutes away inside the barrier islands with 13 meters being the deepest. They do not really go out into the ocean beyond the inshore reefs and only when it is flat calm if they do so. They charge $70 for two tank dives which is almost three times the going rate on Utila which has over 60 official dive sites compared to the 6-8 sites shown on the dive shop walls in Bocas Town. One of Alton’s type boats would mop up the diving business here because there are a lot of touristos. Deeper water is not that far away. By the way Bocas del Toro also have Whale Sharks that pass through seasonally but hardly any one goes out to them, so little chance to experience the cosmic smile of one.
Mister Blue Sky’s eyes are getting tired trying to type and watch all the aquatic transportation units cruise by at the same time so I am dropping the anchor down on the first blog posting from Bocas del Toro. A few last comments … on Utila primarily with my association with Alton’s Dive Center I was never socially alone … it was a social club in many ways, lots of friendly people. That probably may not be the case here, at least for a while, unless I hook up with some aquatic operation in one of the islands outside of Bocas Town (and when my niece Laurel and her friends show up in a few days). So keep those comments, postings and hellos coming from where ever you are on our planet, they are much appreicated. I hope you are enjoying the Hammock Philosopher Blog …… My agenda here is to find that next occupation opportunity (tropical) for Carrie and I before the sun truly sets … so wish me luck and then come visit!
By the way Bocas Town … my early impression is that of a (somewhat seedy) wild wild west, 1800’s, type of frontier cowboy town … a tropical Dodge City. Instead of horses its boats hitched up all along side one another, beating against each other in the wakes of the boats blowing by …. then there are the actual traveling cruising boats now moored up or docked at the few marinas … much like the covered wagons crossing the plains and camping out for a provisional stay in Dodge City … they are here in ‘troppo’ Bocas Town. Oh ya .. definitely need to bone up on el espanol!
Till Next Tide my Blog Flockers,
Mister Blue Sky, wishin’ he was fish in’ … or may be line zippin’ through the jungle on Bastiemente across the misty way … just $7 water taxi round trippin’
Carrie you are the best!