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Guide To: Bocas Del Toro, Panama

Bocas Del Toro is the Caribbean paradise of Panama, with its 200 islets, 50 capes, and 9 islands it has plenty of relaxation, adventures, wildlife, and dinning experiences. But after reading this complete guide from Bocas you’ll have a clear picture of all that you can do there.

Welcome to this guide to Bocas Del Toro.

Bocas Del Toro is an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea that represents the vibrant Caribbean culture of the country. In Bocas, you will find a relatively undeveloped environment and a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. Additionally, Bocas is home to a rainforest, some of the indigenous communities in the area, such as the Ngäbe and the Teribes, as well as some most popular beaches in Panama. There are three main islands in Bocas del Toro: the main one, Isla Colón; Bastimentos, one of the largest islands in Panama; and the small Isla Carenero. The are water taxis (boats) that will take you between Islands.

In this guide, we will share different transportation options to get to Isla Colón, tips on transportation between islands, recommended tours and activities in Bocas, and general tips.

How To Get To Bocas Del Toro.

There are a few combinations you can choose from to get to Bocas del Toro, on this guide we will show you how to get there from Panama City, but you would just need to get to one of the middle/ starting points to get there from somewhere else. These are the options with estimated price for a roundtrip and approximate duration (one way) from Panama City. All options will be described down below.

For orientation Here is a Map with the location of the different Towns, airports and cities that are mentioned.

Direct Flight

This is the fastest but the most expensive option. Flights start at $220 for a round trip to Colon Island and it only takes one hour of flight to get there. Flights are operated by AirPanama, they depart from Albrook Airport which is a smaller airport on the outskirts of Panama City.  You will need to take a taxi or public transport to get there. If you are bringing a carry-on make sure to not book the “ECONO-BASICA” fare or you will need to pay $25 dollars on the counter.

Flight to Changuirola + Bus to Almirante + Boat to Bocas

Flights to Changuirola are also operated by AirPanama They depart from Albrook Airport the flight to Changuirola also takes 1 hour and it will cost you about $117.  (Again, if you are bringing a carry-on make sure to not book the “ECONO-BASICA” fare or you will need to pay $25 dollars on the counter.)  Once you get to Changuirola you can take a taxi for $1 to the bus terminal or walk for 10 minutes. The bus terminal is here.  Then you will get on a small crowded bus for 45 minutes to get to Almirante which costs $1.35 per person, per way. Once you get to Almirante you can purchase a roundtrip ticket to Bocas for $10 or a single-way ticket for $6. You will need to walk from the bus station to the port which is a 5-min walk or pay for another $1 taxi. Boats leave every 30 min every day from 6 A.M. to 6 P.M.

Bus from Panama City to Almirante + Boat to Bocas

There is a bus company that charges around $30 dollars for a bus ride to Almirante. (And $30 dollars back) The trip is 10 hours and 30 minutes. The main company that does it is called Tranceibosa, which only has  Facebook Page, and you will need to chat with them to ask for a reservation. Once you get to Almirante you will have to buy the tickets for the ferry, again that’s $10 for the roundtrip and $6 for a single trip. 

Car to Almirante + Boat To Bocas

Finally, If you are renting a car you can stop at other landmarks before getting to Almirante, which would make the 9 hours trip more doable. Once you get to Almirante you would have to pay a $3 parking fee per night and the $10 roundtrip ticket to Bocas.

Good To Know in To Bocas Del Toro

  • Food is about 2.5 times as expensive as in Mainland Panama.
  • You can’t drink tap water or you’ll get ill.
  • The fees for water taxis rise after sunset.
  • There are some common taxis routes that have “fixed price”(not really fixed but everyone know that that is what you pay). For example, Colón to Carenero Island is one dollar per person, and you should just pay that when you are done with your trip. For longer routes, negotiate the price beforehand so you don’t get scammed.
  • Have spare change (dollar bills)to give water taxis the exact amount, otherwise, they might keep your change.
  • Don’t pay upfront and get a couple of taxi companies phone number. We did a trip to Bastimentos Island and just paid the “lanchero” which is how you call the water taxi guys, for the way there, and asked for his phone number for the way back. He gave us the wrong number, which we realised later. So make sure you read the phone number back to them with one wrong digit to see if they are trying to abandon you on the island. Fortunately, we had the phone number of a water taxi company and we called them so they could pick us up. Click here for the number. (They have WhatsApp too.)

What o see in Bocas Del Toro

Red Frog Beach is on Bastimentos Island. It costs $5 to access, and you will be able to see The famous Red frogs that can only be found on this island. (There are a few Orange and Yellow frogs too that you can see if you take the trail on the left side of the beach) This trai, a 45 min to 1-hour hike that takes you to Wizard Beach, take into account that the trail often gets very muddy.

Alternatively, if you plan to visit Wizard Beach you should probably ask the water taxi to drop you there, as there is no entrance fee.

*Extra tip: If you go early in the morning (Between 9 and 10 you can ask your water taxi to stop to see the dolphins that get there on the morning)

Starfish Beach is, as its name indicates a beach full of starfish in Isla Colon. Even though it’s a bit touristy and restaurants don’t take care of the place it’s a very enjoyable beach. To get there you can:

  • Get a water taxi (expect to pay at least $10 per person).
  • The second option is to ride the bus that leaves from Simon Bolivar Park, it costs $2.5 and leaves every 30 minutes or once is full. The ride takes around 50 minutes on a bumpy road (they are fixing it but it will take some years until it’s ready).
  • The Third option is to get an ATV or a bike, but the road can get very muddy, so the bike is not always recommended.


In case you take the bus or use another transportation other than the boat the road will only take you to Boca del Drago Beach. From there you can walk for 20 minutes or take a water taxi for $1.5 per person. 

Cape Zapatilla

Cape Zapatilla is a very touristy small island. If you want to experience it without the crowd make sure you go as early as possible to enjoy the remote island feel before the tour boats and locals start showing up in droves with speakers and party set-ups. 

There are no water taxis that offer you a ride there so you will need to book a tour.

Bring your food/drinks as there are no services except a basic toilet.

Bluff is a very long beach in Isla Colon mainly known by surfers for its huge waves that get up to 10ft (3m), for that reason, there are no water taxis that will get you there, the options are to:

  • Get a private cab for $15.
  • Rent a bike and ride for 45 minutes.
  • Ride the small bus that leaves every hour from Simon Bolivar Park.

La Gruta Cave & Plasticbottle Village

Finally in case you decide to rent an ATV or a bike to go to Starfish Beach, There is a place called Plasticbottle Village which is designed to aware people of the environmental damage we do to nature by consuming plastic. The price for the visit is $5 and you can stay in a room for the night from $30. Halfway to Starfish Beach there is also a cave called La Gruta which can be visited. There is a $1 fee for visiting, which has to be inserted on a bucket (there is nobody working there or controlling if you pay).

Thank you for reading! 

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