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Bocas is primarily a base for exploring the wonders of the surrounding archipelago, the most impressive of which are the acres of colorful coral reefs. More than a dozen dive spots are within five minutes to one hour by boat from the town's several good dive centers. Snorkeling excursions usually cost $20-$30, depending on the destination and number of passengers, and depart at 8 or 9 am. You can guarantee a lower rate for everyone if you organize a small group. Two-tank boat dives cost $75-$150, depending on distance.
Bocas Water Sports. The town's original dive shop, Bocas still maintains the best reputation. Diving is offered at a dozen sites, and you can take enriched air nitrox and certification courses. The company also offers daily snorkeling tours to the Cayos Zapatillas and other spots. Snorkeling equipment and kayaks can be rented. Calle 3, 1 block south of Parque Bolívar, Bocas del Toro. 507/757–9541. www.bocaswatersports.com.
Dive Panama. This multilingual Dutch-owned outfitter offers inexpensive boat dives, snorkeling excursions, and PADI certification courses. Avenida Norte, betwen Calles 3 and 4, Bocas del Toro. 507/6567–1812. www.thedutchpirate.com.
La Buga. La Buga offers diving and snorkeling trips to outer reefs, ship wrecks, and Tiger Rock, as well as the complete slate of PADI courses. Calle 3, next to Farmacia Rosa Blanca, Bocas del Toro. 507/757–9534. www.labugapanama.com.
Starfleet Scuba. Starfleet Scuba offers various two-tank boat dives and snorkeling excursions, and has open-water certification courses for $250. Calle 1, Bocas del Toro. 507/757–9630. www.starfleetscuba.com.