I was only planning on staying two nights at Laguna Azul Eco-Boutique Hotel but after I arrived, the managers asked me to stay an additional two nights in order to assist them with some of their marketing needs. It was a really productive few days – both from a business standpoint but also from the fun snorkeling that I was able to do all three days! There was another couple from Belgium staying there as well who had literally traveled around the world snorkeling in some of the most amazing places (Maldives, Great Barrier, Seychelles, Red Sea, Belize to name a few)…And you know what? They said that as far as soft coral goes, Bocas del Toro had the most incredible selection!
Exactly 3 years to the day of arriving, I had traveled to Bocas and wrote about that travel experience in my book. While I didn’t have the best time there, I was willing to give it another try…at a different hotel though. I’ve actually been dreaming about returning and snorkeling amongst the coral gardens there for the last 3 years – they are truly that spectacular!
And I was really fortunate to have picked Laguna Azul for the hotel as it’s a beautiful, 8 room lodge located on one of the archipelago islands, far outside of the actual town of Bocas. I don’t really like Bocas – the town itself. While the people are all friendly and it’s super small so you can easily get around on bike or foot, it’s also a very dirty town, lots of backpackers, hippies and it just doesn’t have the same peaceful energy that you get from being on the islands.
At the airport, there were 4 other people on the flight with me and I asked one of the airport staff where the luggage was from our flight. He told me to “Just relax, it’ll be here. Welcome to Panama”…With a slightly sarcastic tone, trying to tell me that I needed to chill. But after about 15 minutes of standing in the room where they check immigration and customs, we asked again and were told, “What are you still doing here? Your luggage is outside”. Yes…Welcome to Panama. And even more crazy is that they’re still handwriting our passport information into their little logbook. I really thought they would have upgraded to computers by this time! Crazy, right?
But arriving at Laguna Azul, there was an immediate sense of stillness. A peaceful atmosphere with no sounds other than those made by the natural world. The birds nesting in the trees, the soft sounds of the water lapping over the mangroves and the occasional splash made by a flying school of fish.
All of the staff were very friendly and helpful. But, in comparison to Tico Time, they take Island Time to a whole other level. Which explains the guy’s response to me at the airport about our luggage!
The bartender, who mixed up great drinks all week, told me that he’s from one of the local islands and that they speak a kind of “spanglish” there. Now, that’s my kind of place! But he actually spoke very good english and I was able to also practice my spanish.
Every morning there, I was greeted by dolphins swimming by as I drank my morning coffee on the terrace. Every night, we were provided with either a beautiful sunset or a spectacular lightning show. Every meal was shared with the managers and we enjoyed many refreshing cocktails and hours of good conversation.
You can snorkel at the Lodge but really the best snorkeling takes place on the excursions…More to come on that in the next post.
Enjoy the slideshow…
Note: While I am now paid and/or receive comped services at many of the places I visit, I will always offer my unbiased opinion to you, my readers. Fortunately, I almost always have experiences that exceed my expectations.