Year Round Snorkeling Opportunities

Snorkeling Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro archipelago’s interior waters are calm throughout the year.   Tranquilo Bay is located in a very calm mangrove bay where waters are clear and snorkeling is a “must do” year round.  September and October are the months that you have the best chances to get the best snorkeling conditions.  These two months usually have extremely calm water and dry and sunny weather that give the great light and visibility to enjoy the vibrant colors of the reef creatures.

Panama SnorkelingStarting at the dock, you may surrender to these underwater creatures’ beauty. Featherduster worms, crabs, snappers, glass minnows, angelfish, and many other colorful fish will surround you as you enjoy the perfect temperature of Caribbean waters.

Tropical Fish Bocas

Underwater Panama

Longsnout Seahorse

Since I wrote the post “underwater garden” and after struggling to choose the pictures that will go with specific text, an idea started growing in my mind.   We should share all the beautiful “underwater flowers, butterflies, bird, etc.” that surround us in an underwater photo series.

Something happened a week ago that sped up the first post of this series. After many years snorkeling in different spots around the archipelago, I have not been lucky enough to find something so I started to think it was a legend. But it was not and it seems that my bad luck is gone because I finally found a Longsnout Seahorse, in its bright yellow form, simply gorgeous … here are some pics for you to enjoy.

Longsnout Seahorse - Hippocampus reidi 2

Longsnout Seahorse - Hippocampus reidi 7

Maybe it was not so much bad luck, as it was great camouflage. Longsnout Seahorse - Hippocampus reidi  4

**Edited to correct name from Longnose Seahorse to Longsnout Seahorse.

Underwater Garden

Today I realized, here at Tranquilo Bay, we all share the same way to describe the amazing coral reefs that surround us. It seems the simplest and most descriptive way we found, just one word, Garden.

An underwater garden were flowers, butterflies, birds, bees morph into unimaginable shapes, with colors impossible to describe as corals, crabs, fishes, sponges, worms, … that will change your concept of alive forms.

Here are some pictures that show you what I am talking about.

Snorkeling Panama Panama Snorkeling Snorkeling Bocas del Toro

Fall: The Best Season

In Bocas del Toro, Panama, fall on the Western Caribbean Slope is generally our best weather of the year.  We don’t get the same number of guests as in the high season, but the ones that are here did their homework.  Enthusiasts of all different types use this time of year (Sept/Oct) to maximize their opportunities at Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge.

Birding Panama

Birdwatchers come for the fall bird migration and beautiful weather conditions.  The volume of raptors in huge kettles over the Caribbean coastline and islands is a marvelous spectacle.  Seven hundred and thirty thousand raptors were counted just a couple of days ago.  They were followed by the Warblers, Tanagers, Orioles, and so many other exquisitely painted flying visitors.  The birds you can photograph from the canopy observation tower alone make this time of year worth the trip.

Panama Bird Watching

Wildlife Panama

Wildlife photographers come for the light and clarity.  Photographing wildlife in the Neotropics can be difficult at any time of year, but September/October bring plenty of sun and lower humidity creating stunning sun-drops beneath the canopy and clear landscapes.

Snorkeling Bocas del Toro

Snorkeling and diving conditions in the Caribbean Sea are at their peak; the favorable weather translates to calm water.  The wave action at other times of the year can affect visibility.  Not that those conditions are bad, they’re just not Bocas’ best.  Just wait until you feast your eyes on the diversity of corals and tropical fishes that light up the water with a rainbow of color here in Bocas del Toro.

Fishing Panama

Another great reason to come at this time of year is for the fishing.  Wade fishing conditions are perfect for Snook and Jack Crevalle.  Because the sea is so calm, there are rarely waves at river mouths.  The fish congregate into smaller target areas because the natural current patterns are not disrupted by rough conditions.  The rip lines are easy to find and with fewer waves, much easier to access while wading.

While offshore fishing in September and October, the typically flat seas are a dream.  School size Yellow-fin and Black-fin tuna bring plenty of action on light tackle.  Big Wahoo are the best offshore prize while fishing in Bocas del Toro, Panama, with 75 pound Wahoo taken regularly during the fall season.  This is also the best time of year to see a Whale Shark in western Panama.

Kayaking Panama

Oh, I almost forgot, all the reasons mentioned above to vacation in Bocas del Toro during the fall, also make it a great time of year for sea kayaking.

See you next fall.

Seasoned Water Man

We have a seasoned water man with us for about six months in 2013.  He is a professional photographer who is fascinated with water. His last name happens to be Viola. Yes, he is Jay’s cousin.

Franklin Viola has been influenced by water in every step of his life. He started out young swimming in it, surfing in it, diving under it and sailing over it. He formally studied water at Texas A&M University at Galveston, graduated in 1982 with a BS in Marine Science and Marine Transportation and then set out as an US Merchant Marine officer. When he returned to the beach in 1986 he focused on painting pictures of water with a camera.

Literally, Franklin’s focus on painting pictures of water through the optics of a camera has taken him all over the world. He has completed photography assignments for Audubon, National Geographic, Travel Holiday, Islands, Discovery Channel Online, Sport Diver, The Nature Conservancy, American Express, Turner Broadcasting, and Delta Airlines among others. He has led photography safaris and seminars above and below the water. He is happy to share his knowledge of photography and the water with us all.

He decided to come down to Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge to help us with a number of projects. He is sending photos of his adventures out in a variety of mediums. He has a test run posted on Ikelite’s Facebook page here: He does a photo a day on his website here:

Surfing Panama

He got this one on Sunday when we took the kids surfing.  Marlon was helping the kids catch waves and was able to grab one for himself.  Franklin was in the water to snap the photo.

We will keep you posted on Franklin’s work while he is spending time with us in paradise. He does a great job capturing life near the ocean.

Upside Down Jellyfish

Cassiopea or upside down jellyfish that we find around Tranquilo Bay. You can learn more about them here: One thing that we have found different than what is explained in the wikipedia article is that we have never had anyone be stung by this species. We go snorkeling around these jellyfish on a regular basis. We find them in these large groups that resemble bouquets of flowers. The variance in color, etc. is amazing.


Recent Wildlife Sightings

Thanks to Jim, Natalia and Ramon, we have lots of great wildlife photos. They each take so many photos that it is very hard for me to keep up with them. However, I went through and grabbed a few of my favorites from the past month or so to share with you today. These are just a sample of what you might encounter here during your stay. Have a great weekend.


Bocas del Toro Beaches

Back to a video. Here is a video of some of the beaches we visit here in Bocas del Toro Panama on our excursions. Each beach has its unique characteristics which makes it special. Two of the beaches are on small islands which you can circumnavigate in less than an hour. Certain beaches are only accessible during the months of the year when our waves are especially low. One beach is part of an indigenous comarca. It is one of the longest stretches of beach here in Panama. We have a full menu of beaches such that you can select a different one each day or stick with your favorite. It is entirely up to you.