It was time for Paul to begin his journey back to the states. We’d had a fabulous adventure with Paul all the way from San Andres, Columbia to Bocas del Toro, Panama. We were shocked he wasn’t just going to move aboard Rode Trip! But we were glad he’d be returning home to his wife, Emily, and we hoped we would see both of them soon! Paul took one last walk through the jungle – “No, it’s a rain forest,” Annika reminded us.Prior to departing Isla Bastimentos, Paul had completed two goals. Goal #1 – find a Strawberry Poison-dart Frog. Check!
Isla Bastimentos is 20 sq-miles; an island within the Bocas del Toro District. Isla Bastimentos houses a small town, an Indigenous villiage, the Red Frog Villas and Red Frog Marina, Bocas Bound Hostel, Casa Kayuka, and the Pal Mar Tent Lodge. A portion of the island also encompasses a portion of Panama’s first national park; Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park which stretches from Playa Larga on Bastimentos across to neighboring Cayos Zapitillas and Coral Cay. Isla Bastimentos is a quiet place where tourists come to bask in the sun or catch a wave on one of the five ocean-side beaches. Brian, Paul, and I hiked along jungle paths toward the beaches…we were ready for a bit of FUN!
The Bocas del Toro archipelago is a group of northwestern, Panamanian islands that separate Almirante Bay from the Caribbean Sea. This archipelago comprises the Bocas del Toro District; Bocas del Toro (or Bocas Town) the major city is located on Isla Colon. Numerous islands, much like a tropical version of Maine, are accessible by ferry, water taxi, and private boat. The archipelago is home to Indigenous people, Panamanians, ex-patriates, and ever wandering cruisers. At a glance, it seemed we would have months worth of cruising opportunities to explore islands.
First, however, more guests were due to arrive! To accommodate our guests we’d made reservations at a local marina, the Red Frog Marina on Isla Bastimentos. Roughly 5nm from Bocas del Toro on Isla Colon, the Red Frog Marina on Bastimentos boasted excellent water, clean facilities, and a water-shuttle service to/from town. These homey comforts were right in the middle of a tropical rain forest! We were anxious to get Rode Trip docked and explore Bastimentos in preparation for our guests. We were also anxious for a long, pressure-water shower and use of the laundry machines. And so, still with our good friend Paul, we hauled anchor and sailed a beautiful sail to Isla Bastimentos.
We found the entrance to the marina nestled behind a labyrinth of mangroves. One of our soon to be dock neighbors dinghied toward us in his skiff and met us upon our entry. Stephen (s/v Cinnimon Girl) directed us to our slip; he and another soon to be neighbor, Bob (s/v First Light) assisted with our dock lines. Within minutes Rode Trip was securely docked.
Brian, Paul, and I met with Dock Manager, Lee. Lee was fabulous! Not only did he welcome us to the marina and provide the usual run-down of information (pertaining to wifi access, bathroom door codes, water/electric hook-ups, etc.) but he took time from his busy day to take us on a tour of the area. Lee brought us to the local beaches and restaurants and shared with us what kinds of wildlife we might spot in the rain forest. We were anxious to start walking around the island in search of Sloths, Strawberry Poison-dart Frogs, Monkeys, Snakes…oh no, NOT Snakes!
These lovely facilities would be waiting for us later in the evening.And so, after getting acquainted with an unusual new neighbor…we were off into the jungle! This is a Rhinoceros Beetle and we hoped he wouldn’t visit us down at the docks!