Finding Paradise: Getting to Bocas Del Toro
It takes a little bit of planning to get to the beautiful islands of Bocas Del Toro, Panama. Bocasdeltoro.com has a few helpful hints and all the info on how to find paradise.
There is not a huge airport in the archipelago, so the first step is to get to our area of Central America. Take a flight to Panama City, Panama or San Jose, Costa Rica. Once you are close there are a few options on traveling to Bocas. There are choices for all tastes and budgets.
Both Panama City and San Jose have airlines that have daily or weekly flights to Isla Colon and Bocas Town. This is the fastest way to get your vacation started. A flight from Panama City on Air Panama, www.airpanama.com , or from San Jose on Nature Air, www.natureair.com , is usually about an hour or an hour and a half and it brings you right into Bocas Town. This is a popular option because the flights are so short. If an additional flight is not in your budget, or you prefer to see more of these countries you can try something else.
If you are coming from Costa Rica, you can hop on a bus in San Jose or any other small town in Costa Rica, and go to the border town of Sixaola where you will cross the border into Guabito, Panama. There are a few things you will need while making the border crossing: your passport (of course), proof of leaving the countries, (both Panama and Costa Rica require proof that you will be traveling onward) and entrance and exit fees (usually between 3 and 10 USD. There is also a Keep Bocas Beautiful fee of 2 USD if you arrive by bus and 3 USD if you fly into Bocas). Once you cross over into Panama you can find either a taxi or bus that is going to the Port town of Almirante, there are many people coming and going so finding a ride is easy and safe.
The bus is also an option when coming from Panama City. There is a very big bus terminal in the city, Albrook Terminal, where you can purchase tickets to Bocas Del Toro. There is an express bus that can get you to our lovely islands in about 10-12 hours with only 1 rest stop halfway. You can catch one early in the morning which is great because you can see first-hand the incredible and diverse country of Panama, with beautiful cloud forests, lush fields and banana trees. Or you can opt for the night bus, which some people prefer because you can sleep while traveling, which gets you to Almirante (the port city) around 7 or 8 a.m. Sometimes the bus gets a bit chilly so we recommend a jacket for your journey.
When you get to Almirante you will take a short boat ride from Almirante to Bocas Del Toro. There are 2 big companies that transport people back and forth and there are boats that run every 30 minutes or hourly. It is only about a 25 minute ride and you can see some of the smaller uninhabited islands, and maybe catch a glimpse of a dolphin or two while enjoying the sea breeze. There is also a big ferry that makes 2 trips daily from Almirante to Isla Colon. The ferry takes about 2 hours to make its way to Bocas and usually is bringing trucks and supplies to the archipelago. Of course if you rent a car in Panama City you can bring it to Bocas on the ferry, the drive between the 2 places would be exciting and fun filled, but once you get to Bocas you will see that a car is not at all a necessity. Bringing a rental car from Costa Rica is not recommended, because it requires a lot of paperwork to cross the borders with a car. You can rent one in Changinola, a town about 20 minutes from Almirante.
Of course there are so many other possibilities as you make your way to the island of Bocas including stopping off in beautiful Boquette to hike up the side of a volcano or take a walk along the river. For these options see our page, Hola Boquete.
You can also contact Caribe Shuttle, they will arrange for you, your travel from Costarica to Bocas del Toro round trip and not expensive!!!
Keep all these choices in mind as you plan your holiday, and no matter how you decide to get here, once you are in Bocas Del Toro you may never want to leave our little piece of heaven!