Getting to Bocas: By bus and boat

  • There are two routes into Bocas del Toro Province, one over the lush, jagged mountains from Chiriqui, the other from the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Buses travel both of these routes. If you are traveling from Costa Rica, take the bus to the border.

The town is located on Isla Colon and you ll need to take a boat to access it. Boats departs frequently from the towns of Almirante and Changuinola. If you re coming from the costa rican border it is faster to take the boat in Changuinola (7 US$), if you re coming from David, it will be cheaper to take the boat from Almirante (4 US$).

  • From the border in Panama (closes at 5 pm Panamenian Time!) you can take a 10 US mini bus to Almirante and a 25 minutes boat from there to Bocas del Toro (town) (4 US$).
  • Take a chicken bus to Changuinola and a taxi to the docks and then the 1 hour / 7 US$ boat to Bocas del Toro (town) or a Minibus for 5 US from the border straight to the docks of Changuinola.
  • The cheapest way is probably going with the chicken bus (leaves every hour/1 US$) to Changuinola, take a regular bus to Almirante (~1,50 / one hour) and the 4 US$ boat to the island.

There are several flights into Bocas from Panama City. AirPanama flies from the capital twice a day everyday (45 mins $80), and Aeroperlas does the same thing at the same price. *** As of March 1, 2012, Aeroperlas has suspended operations, so Air Panama is the only option.

Nature Air flies from San Jose, Costa Rica to Bocas del Toro 4 times per week. The cost is $110 each way plus $26 international departure fee and $12 for a Panamanian entry stamp.

Located 32km from the Costa Rican border, the Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro consists of six densely forested islands, scores of uninhabited islets and Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos, Panama’s oldest marine park. Although Bocas is Panama’s principal tourist draw card, a fair measure of authenticity remains. Low-key development has maintained the charm of small-town Caribbean life and the absence of megahotels has preserved the archipelago’s idyllic beauty. Even the most developed of the islands, Isla Colón, possesses a strong local flavor and appealingly slow way of life, while the oft-forgotten Isla Carenero is a lovely, peaceful haven.

Bocas’ laid-back Caribbean vibe is enhanced by the archipelago’s spectacular natural setting. The islands are covered in dense jungles of vine tangles and forest palms that open up to pristine beaches fringed by reeds and mangroves. Beneath the water, an extensive coral reef ecosystem supports countless species of tropical fish while simultaneously providing some seriously gnarly surf breaks. In Bocas, hiking through huge swaths of rainforest to arrive at an empty stretch of wave-pounded shore is pretty much the norm.

The mainland is home to the Panamanian half of the binational Parque Internacional La Amistad. Here, primary rainforests are home to unforgettable fauna such as the elusive jaguar, as well as a handful of Ngöbe-Buglé settlements that are still clinging to their traditional ways of life.

Activities in Bocas del Toro by Laguna Azul Ecolodge