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Activity Reviews Adventure Travel Panama

Scuba Diving in Bocas del Toro: La Buga Review

Last updated on November 17th, 2022

While planning a trip to Panama, I was ready to get back in the water after a few years’ break from diving and chose to scuba dive in Bocas del Toro with top-rated La Buga Dive & Surf. Since trying diving and getting my PADI Open Water in Honduras in 2014, scuba diving has been a great way for me to experience the underwater world at tropical destinations. Scuba diving in the Philippines was one of the most memorable dives I’ve had, and I couldn’t wait to make more diving memories in Panama. 

Thinking about going scuba diving in Bocas del Toro? Here is my experience diving in Bocas del Toro with La Buga Dive & Surf. 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post on behalf of La Buga Dive & Surf. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

mystic winds dive bocas del toro

Scuba Diving in Bocas Del Toro

Bocas del Toro is known for being one of the best diving spots in Central America. Scuba diving in Bocas del Toro offers something for divers of all skill levels, from shipwrecks to caves to beautiful colourful reefs. With its warm Caribbean waters, diving here is available year-round, with most dive sites only a short boat ride away. With affordable pricing, Panama is a great place to get certified or try scuba for the first time. 

During my trip to Bocas, I did a two-tank dive and here are the dive sites I visited:

casa verde scuba dive bocas del toro

Dive Site – Casa Verde (Green House) 

Green House is a reef dive site off the coast of Isla Solarte, named after the green-coloured house nearby that marks the dive location. This 15-20 ft depth site contains colourful sponges and corals. In the dive area, you can see sting rays, schools of fish, sea lettuce, spotted moray eels, and toadfish. 

sting ray scuba diving in panama

During my Green House dive, I saw a massive stingray, colourful fish, and plenty of beautiful coral ranging in colour from yellow to purple. 

mystic winds scuba dive bocas del toro

Dive Site – Mystic Winds 

Mystic Winds in a shipwreck dive site off Solarte Island, Bocas, near Casa Verde. This 50-60 ft depth site features the trimaran shipwreck Mystic Winds, which was purposely sunk in 2015 to create an artificial reef. In the reef and shipwreck area, you may find sea horses, stingrays, tropical fish, and vivid-coloured coral. 

mystic winds shipwreck dive bocas del toro

During my Mystic Winds dive, in addition to seeing the shipwreck, I saw a stingray, schools of fish, and bright-coloured coral in orange, purple, and green. Mystic Winds was my favourite of the two dives in Bocas.

la buga dive & surf bocas del toro

About La Buga 

La Buga Dive & Surf is a 5-star PADI dive shop and surfing school in the heart of Bocas del Toro. In addition to scuba diving, La Buga offers surfing lessons and rentals for surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, snorkel gear, and GoPros. Not your average dive shop, there is also an onsite restaurant, La Bugita Ocean Lounge, which offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner with good music, a fun vibe, and a beautiful view.

la buga in bocas del toro

Location 

La Buga Dive & Surf is located on the main island of Bocas: Colón Island, on the main street of Bocas Town. From the water taxi station, you can turn left out of the building and walk along the waterfront street until you reach La Buga or ask a local for directions. Their shop is colourful and well-labelled. If not staying on Colón island, request a water taxi to drop you off on La Buga’s dock.

Address: Isla Colón, Calle 3 Main Street, Bocas del Toro, Panama

dive sites in bocas del toro

The Scenery

Located within Panama’s northwest coast in a group of islands known as the Bocas del Toro Archipelago by the Caribbean Sea, you will pass small waterfront towns while you sail to your diving site. You will see the scenic region of Bocas del Toro from a unique viewpoint: under the water.

scuba diving bocas del toro

Scuba Diving with La Buga

Here is what it’s like scuba diving with La Buga: 

Once you’ve booked your dive and arrive on your diving day, you will fit check for a mask, wetsuit, and fin size. Get into your wetsuit, put your mask and fins onto the boat, and the staff will load the tanks and scuba gear. Board the boat and prepare for smooth sailing on their tri-hull boat. After a short boat ride, you will reach your dive site. 

la buga scuba gear

Put on your scuba gear. The dive instructor will do a safety check to ensure everything is put on properly and in working condition. Once ready, it’s time to go diving! 

scuba dive in bocas with la buga

Walk cautiously towards the edge of the boat, check that your mask is proper, put your regulator in your mouth, place one hand over your mask and reg, then take a giant step forward off the boat and splash into the water. You made it in the water! 

scuba dive bocas la buga

Swim from the boat towards the buoy, and when the dive master says to, begin your descent. Take slow, deep breaths, let the air out of your BCD, and equalize frequently. Now that you are underwater, have fun and enjoy the scenery!

scuba diving panama

Prices

Prices for diving with La Buga start at 55 USD for single-tank dives and 85 for two-tank dives for licensed divers. They also offer night diving starting at 60 USD for a single-tank dive.

New to diving and want to try scuba diving in Bocas? Discovery dive prices start at 85 USD for a single tank or 109 USD for a two-tank dive. Scuba diving is the best way to experience Bocas’s beauty under the water.

colourful coral bocas del toro

Tips for Scuba Diving in Bocas del Toro 

  • Scuba diving in Bocas is possible year-round, but the best visibility is between February-April and September-October.
  • If motion sickness affects you, plan to take medication before boarding the boat to go scuba diving. While a pretty steady boat, the ocean waves can still affect you if you are prone to motion sickness.
  • The underwater current is higher in the afternoon, so choose to dive in the morning for smoother diving.
  • Bring an underwater camera or rent a GoPro from La Buga to capture the underwater world. I brought my GoPro and used one from the dive shop to take pictures and videos.
  • Drink plenty of water before, in between dives, and after to stay hydrated. 
la buga dive & surf - bocas del toro

Scuba Diving with La Buga: Final Thoughts

I would choose to scuba dive with La Buga again, especially if we could go with other licensed divers vs students. It’s fun to dive with students, except that they use up their oxygen tanks faster while learning, which is part of the learning process, but I was just excited and wanted to spend more time seeing the shipwreck, taking in all the beautiful corals and marine life. All in all, I had a positive diving experience and would recommend diving in Bocas del Toro with La Buga.

I feel diving is an incredible experience that everyone should try at least once, especially if you already enjoy snorkelling and being in the water. Whether you are a licensed scuba diver or someone looking to try a fun dive, the caring and professional staff at La Buga will ease any nervous feelings and help you feel comfortable while diving.

To learn more about La Buga Dive & Surf, and book your Bocas del Toro scuba diving adventure visit their website.

I hope this information helps you plan your scuba dive in Bocas with La Buga.

Happy travelling!

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