Friday, 24 June 2011

Cost of scuba diving lessons and our journey Bocas Del Toro ♥

The cost of scuba diving lessons can be really steep. The price for the Open Water certification can be anywhere between 300$ to over 600$ and more in some spots. Central America is one of the cheapest areas to dive in the world with Thailand. We went to Utila, Honduras two years ago and were very satisfied with the quality and the prices. Another place that is renowned to be cheap is Bocas Del Toro in Panama. That's why we chose to go there to hopefully book an advanced Open water class.

Getting here to Bocas Del Toro was pretty much a nightmare. We left off early tuesday to grab the 9 am bus which was suposed to take us all the way to Almirante from which you need to take a water taxi to get onto the islands. We then learned from a passenger that apparently the bus stopped at Changinola instead, about an hour an a half hour from a destination. The whole ride was supposed to take only 6 hours, but 6 hours after our departure we were just arriving to the borders.

The officials at the border gave us an incredible hard time. They wanted us to have a ticket out of Panama to let us in. We have plane tickets out of Costa Rica in a month, but that wasn't enough for them, they wanted a proof of departure. Of, course, they were selling these 12$ bus return tickets there! They bascially forced us to buy some or they wouldn't let us in. Issue was, we were out of cash and they did not accept cards. We ended up borrowing money from a mini bus driver that was there.

While this was happening (it took about 45 minutes to get everything settled) our bus left (intentionnally) without us. We were forced to grab a ride with the mini bus driver for 10$ more each to Almirante (coincidence? I don't think so!). We finally arrived at the water taxi place and grabbed a boat to Isla Colon in Bocas Del Toro where we are now. Phew! What a frustrating day X_X

After that, things started to look up, we got a great hostel (review soon!) and went out for pizza and 1$ beers at a restaurant called Black olives. The next day, we went out to look for a dive shop and found the Starfleet dive shop, not far from the hotel. We decided on taking the advanced open water classes, which include 5 dives and 2 free fun dives (it was super cheap! only 175$ per person, the reviewers weren't kidding the cost of scuba diving lessons here in Bocas is really inexpensive!). You get to choose some of the dives you will go through and we chose a night dive and fish identification!

We are on day 2 of three days for the certification and diving is exhausted! We dived twice this morning and now we are simply taking it easy in our hostel for now. We might try and find a play with air conditionning soon, it's really hot here!

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