Located on the south-eastern border of the Bastimentos National Marine Park, the Zapatillas Cays are two stunning islands that emerge from a coral platform and are surrounded by tropical coral reef. About a 30 minute boat ride from Crawl Cay (roughly 8 kms), the Zapatillas Islands are generally considered the most beautiful islands of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago and offer visitors pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters and some of Panama's most attractive coral reefs.
Some say they receive their name from a fruit that grow in its forests, and yet others because their shape resemble a pair of running shoes ("zapatillas" in Spanish).
Western Zapatilla or "Zapatilla Menor", is less than half the size of its eastern counterpart, and is nesting ground for the Green Marine Turtle. Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles lay their eggs on both islands. This island is more visited by scientists than by tourists.
Eastern Zapatilla or "Zapatilla Mayor" is home to the ranger station (the rest of the cays are uninhabited), where a $10 Park Fee is collected from visitors . The best snorkeling and diving in Major Zapatillas can be found towards the south-eastern coast, about 300 meters from the beach in a spot known as Coral Islands. This spot is relatively shallow and has the most beautiful coral
formations with lots of tropical fish, and its crevices hide many lobsters, crabs, eels and an immense amount of tiny sea invertebrates. If you want more than a just a gorgeous reef, on the Zapatillas' north shore, you can go behind the breakers (the reefs that break the incoming waves... when there are waves). If the sea permits (mainly May, September, October), you will find a wall formed by the reef, that contains small caves and tunnels, up to 40 feet deep.