Exploring Isla Carenero, Bocas del Toro, Panama

On our third day in Bocas del Toro, Shaun and I got up extra early to embark on an all day snorkel adventure.

We rode out bikes downtown, and marched up to the tour company booth to check in. We knew something was up when we presented our voucher, and the women looked at us like we had rocks in our head. She explained that the tour was at 9:30, and had already left. They had waited for us as long as they could.

We were baffled. Shaun looked at his watch…9:07. We showed it to her, and she laughed. “ahhhh, Costa Rica time,” she exclaimed.Yes my friends, we were unaware that there was a time difference between Panama, and Costa Rica. In fact, we had been living in the wrong time for two full days. It certainly explained why we were always to late for Happy Hour!

Those look like pretty rainy clouds overhead!

Those look like pretty rainy clouds overhead!

We were thankful that the company was kind enough to honour our voucher for the next day, but in the meantime, we had an entire empty day ahead of us.

We decided to take advantage of the opportunity, and head over to the small island of Carenero, right across from our island.

Shaun, hard at work, with our "light station" on Carenero

Shaun, hard at work, with the “light station” on Carenero

We asked a local if he would take us over, and we hopped in his boat. We actually felt pretty fortunate that we had postponed our tour, as the clouds overhead were looking fairly ominous.

From shore, Isla Carenero looks pretty busy. Several building dot the shoreline, and by looking at it, you imagine there would be a little town to explore. Wrong again! The few buildings you can see from the shore is really the extent of the activity on the island. That being said, it is still a pretty funky place.

Checking out my first barrel waves

Checking out my first barrel waves

We pulled up to the dock just as the rain started. Luckily, being from Vancouver Island, a little rain didn’t phase us, and we forged ahead.

The buildings on Carenero are mainly vacation rentals, and hostels, with a couple little restaurants scattered about. Unlike the busyness of the main island, Carenero is much more relaxed. People who stay there often find they have no need to go to the main island, unless they need to go to the bank or the store. It’s got all the basic amenities, with less of the hustle.

Wandering the path around the beach

Wandering the path around the island

We slowly winded our way along the shoreline, stopping to explore the little cove’s and beaches we discovered along the way.

During our walk, we certainly figured out where all the surfers had been hanging out. We spotted several reef breaks with tons of surfers in them. I saw my first barrel waves, and even saw a long boarder ride a wave while doing a hand stand. I may not be that interested in watching surfers, but even I was impressed!

Pretty busy surf spot

Pretty busy surf spot

Although we were told we could walk around the entire island, after about an hour we ran into barbed wire crossing the path. We figured we could have passed it at low tide, but decided to take it as a sign to turn back.

Before heading back to the main island, we stopped in at Bibi’s for a coffee, and a beer. Enjoying our beverages over the water was a perfect way to end our impromptu morning adventure.

Nothing like a beach side bar to top off your morning jaunt

Nothing like a beach side bar to top off your morning jaunt

It’s funny how things have a way of working themselves out. Had we not missed our tour, we would likely never have visited Carenero Island. Now that we have, we know that if we ever come back to Bocas del Toro, this is the island we would stay on.

Do you have any travel time change stories?

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Love to hear your comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s