My original plan, when retiring to Panama, was to build a shanty boat and spend the rest of my days in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. Well it didn’t happen as my regular readers know. But for four years the idea has lain semi-dormant in the back of my mind. But why Bocas, specifically. Well, in all of Panama there are really only three places that seem to be written about as cruising areas.
On the Pacific side there’s the Perlas Islands. These islands are generally stopped at by people either about to or have recently made a transit of the Canal.
You might recognize Contadora where the Shah of Iran spent time after being deposed.
On the Caribbean side there’s the San Blas Islands, known here in Panama as Guna Yala. It is a semi-autonomous region administered by the Kuna Indians and to visit them you have to get permission from the Chiefs and pay to visit and your stay is limited in length. It’s not a place where you’re welcome to stay forever.
The Kuna are the second smallest group of people in the world after the pygmies in Africa, and the women’s distinctive “molas” make them iconic figures of Panama.
But it’s Bocas that most cruisers gravitate to.
Miles and miles of sheltered water cruising with dozens of islands to tuck up to and anchor behind if you’re looking for some peace and quiet:
Or you can go into Bocas Town if you want to live it up a bit:
But making that ride back to the mainland after choosing not to buy the sailboat I realized I didn’t want to live in Bocas anyway. Too far away from too many things.
So, where does that leave me? Closer to home there’s Pedregal with it’s marina, Customs and Immigration offices and other Maritime offices.
Pedregal is a 35¢ bus ride from downtown David. It’s not a very pretty place, and there is quite a bit of crime here, mostly drug related but it’s certainly not as tranquil as Boquerón. Back in 2009 (has it been that long ago?) when I was doing my exploratory visits to the country I went down to the marina to look around, and dismissed the place out of hand. (Please excuse the misspelling of the town’s name) https://onemoregoodadventure.com/2009/05/14/pedrigal-off-the-list/
So with Bocas off the list I went back to Google Earth and took another peek at Pedregal and saw this:
Miles and miles of sheltered water in the delta and then to the east comes Boca Chica and Boca Brava.
And there are lots of boats here which was a surprise to me…
Lots of big game fishing goes on offshore from Boca Chica with world records being pulled out of the water. And there are plenty of islands to relax around.
If anything does come of the boating bug this is probably where I’ll end up. Close to David.
3 responses to “Rethinking Cruising Grounds”
We hope/plan to buy a boat after we make the move down and have been living in the area there for at least a year. We thought the Pedregal Marina was not bad. Mind you and I am sure you have as well, we have been in a lot worse marina’s. Pedregal is relatively easy access to repairs,haul-outs,storage, fuel, and provisioning.
John & Sue
And plenty of cruising!
Yes, I could see Boca Chica as an option. It’s so beautiful there! Could you motor over to Pedregal if you need to go shopping?
Absolutely could, but looking at Google Earth, it would probably be easier to motor up to Horconcitos and take the bus from there into David. I see what looks to be a couple of dock areas there.
I almost bought a place in Boca Chica called Wahoo Willies. But then you and you alone convinced me that I shouldn’t move to Panama. I thank you for that. Still love Panama, but made the right decision for me.