“If you want to go deeper, tilt the board downwards. If you want to go to the surface, tilt it upwards. And try not to let go!” Our deep boarding guide.
With that intensive (?) training session complete, it was time for us to try deep boarding, something until the day before we had never heard of!
Deep boarding is a slightly crazy idea on paper, but in reality it is an exhilarating and challenging experience. Imagine being dragged along behind a speedboat on a rope, holding onto a clear plastic semi circle which curves slightly upwards at the sides. As the speedboat drags you along, tilting the board downwards will take you under the surface, tilt it upwards and you can emerge from the water to take your next breath. It looks a little something like this…
After this quick explanation, it was time to leave the safety of our palm tree lined island, and get in the water. Our group of 4 were the first people to go out!
In truth, the experience was a mixture of exhilaration and endurance training, as we grappled initially with the grip on our boards and the drag from the speedboat. After a minute at the surface, it was time to test out the ‘deep’ part of deep boarding.
Tilting the board ever so slightly, suddenly I was two feet underwater and dropping fast. It was an incredible feeling, almost like flying as chunks of coral that protruded from the sea bed dipped and grew as we flew above them. Before I knew it, I was 10-15 feet under water, flying through schools of fish and stingrays!
The strangest feeling of all was the distinct lack of need to get some air. As we weren’t expending any energy at all, we could spend much longer underwater simply being dragged along. Deciding I should probably get back to the surface, I gently tilted the board upwards and I was brought back to the surface for another breath of air. This was brilliant!
After a quick check to see Laura was still on her rope, I went back under for another piece of the underwater action! Dipping under the water again, I headed straight down. Perhaps buoyed by my first attempt, confidence got the better of me and I found myself crashing into and off the bottom of the sea bed, narrowly avoiding a large rock that was in my path! Hanging on, I readjusted my grip and took control of the board, dipping down and then upwards over the undulating sea bed, switching left and right as I wanted and then breaking back onto the surface again.
And then as soon as we’d begun, our experience was over! We had around 10-5 minutes in the water, which for our first time was long enough as it did get tiring towards the end. We took a tour with Under Sea Panama, just off the coast of Bocas del Toro, and it looked something like this:
The rest of the day passed by in a more tranquil manner. There was time to relax and have lunch on a pristine and unspoilt tiny island, and with a short walk across the island to the other beaches, it was paradise.
We also had time to snorkel as well, spending 45 minutes in and around mangroves admiring the local schools of fish and coral.
After that, it was time to get back on our boat and head back to the main island. Our experience of deep boarding had been a fantastic one, surging through the crystal clear waters of Bocas del Toro and relaxing on beautiful palm tree lined beaches. We were sad that it was over, and we’d highly recommend you have a go if you ever get the chance!