Cayo Zapatilla are a group of two uninhabited islands in the protected Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park. What makes this island amazing is how pristine and untouched it is. It means there might be natural debris of leaves, tree branches, and dead trees strewn all over it. It also means there are no facilities, restaurants, or conveniences here. Expect soft brown sandy beaches, gorgeous turquoise waters, coconut trees gently swaying, ocean calmly kissing the shores,and if you are lucky, no one else on the beach but you.
Getting to Cayo Zapatilla
You can go with a group tour for about $25-35 per person. Or you can charter a private water taxi for about $120-150 for the boat. If you can get 3-4 people, its totally worth it. If there is one thing to splurge on while you are on this trip, this would be it. You get the flexibility of exploring different parts of Isla Bastimentos as you make your way to Cayo Zapatilla, arriving much earlier than the group tours, and leaving the island when you chose. Our guide Jeff has been an Isla Bastimentos resident for 17 years and knew the island in and out. He had a wealth of information that he passionately shared with us. You can sign up for the group and private tours in Bocas Town (on the main strip). We spent all our time on the smaller of the two islands – Cayo Zapatilla 2.
We were based in Isla Bastimentos and set out around 9.15 am with our water taxi driver and guide Jeff. We made stops along the way to Sloth Island (we spotted one baby sloth wayy up in the trees), Dolphin Bay, and the mangroves to check out corals and starfish. These mangroves are massive and incredible close up and Isla Bastimentos has an abundance of them.
Arriving at Cayo Zapatilla
A straight ride to Cayo Zapatilla takes about 40 minutes from Old Bank water port in Isla Bastimentos. Both islands are both visible from the ocean, with the larger Cayo Zapatilla 1 on the left and Cayo Zapatilla 2 on the right. We spent most of our time on the smaller Cayo Zapatilla 2. The larger one was pretty bare and from what i understand is not technically open to visitors.
We arrived at the island just before 10.30 am and we were the only visitors on the island. We got to explore the island for a good hour plus before a couple group tour boats arrived. Here’s a video of us arriving on this gorgeous island!
Because Cayo Zapatilla are uninhabited, there’s a lot of natural debris all over the island. I think this adds so much character to the island. Roaming and exploring the island, you just never know what you might discover!
The island is full of beautiful trees, many low enough to climb! We had a blast roaming through, climbing trees, and exploring the island.
Since there is no food on the island, you can arrange with your water taxi driver/tour guide to stop at Maccabite restaurant. It’s pretty decent, a little pricey ($13-17 for entrees) but there’s nothing else nearby, so that’s to be expected. Cash only accepted.
- Bring a cooler bag or small cooler to keep your drinks cold. Temperatures are high and the ride to the island is at least 45 minutes. You will thank yourself later. Our private tour driver had a cooler that we were able to use so if you do a private tour, be sure to ask your driver if he can bring one.
- There is a $10 cash admittance fee per guest onto the island. Sometimes this is not included in the tour price so get clarification. If the group tour costs around $35 pp, it should already include the $10 fee.
- Get there by 10 am latest!! You’ll get to enjoy the island to yourself for a good hour plus since the group tour boats arrive around 11.30 am -12 pm. If you can get there earlier than 10, that’s even better.
- If the island caretaker is available, they can get you coconuts from the trees. I think there was a very nominal fee for this.
- Bring snorkeling gear! Lots to see on a clear day right off the beach shore.
- Bring everything you need – food, drinks, sunblock, towels, etc. as there are no facilities. There are lots of shaded areas if you need to take a sun break.
- Please take all your trash back with you! Lets all do our part to keep this gorgeous as pristine as possible. The universe thanks u!
Thank you for coming along on my adventures!