Bocas del Toro in Panama is a popular destination with many travelers. However, there is a lot of confusion regarding how to get there. Whether you’re traveling from Panama City, Boquete, or even from Costa Rica, we’ve outlined how to get to Bocas del Toro in detail below. If you have any questions or need […]
Bocas del Toro in Panama is a popular destination with many travelers. However, there is a lot of confusion regarding how to get there. Whether you’re traveling from Panama City, Boquete, or even from Costa Rica, we’ve outlined how to get to Bocas del Toro in detail below. If you have any questions or need help getting to Bocas, feel free to contact us and we’d be happy to help.
In order to get to Bocas del Toro from Panama City by bus you’ll first have to make your way to the city of Almirante. There are two options to get to Almirante. First, via a direct night bus from Panama City. Second, to take a bus to the town of David and then a transfer to Almirante. We’ve detailed both options below.
Night Bus from Albrook Bus Terminal
Buses depart every evening from Albrook Terminal in Panama City at 6:00 pm, 6:30 pm, and 7:00 pm. It takes between 10 to 11 hours to get to Almirante, arriving around dawn. The ticket costs $30 and you will need to purchase it at the Bocas del Toro window at the Albrook Terminal earlier that day or the day before.
Travel Tip: You can now book online ahead of time with Panama Bus Tickets.
Day Bus from Albrook to David
If you want to travel by bus to Bocas del Toro during the daytime, you can catch a direct bus to David from the Albrook Terminal. The buses cost around $15 and depart every half hour. You may have to spend the night in David, so be prepared.
From the David Terminal, go to the side from which the buses depart; a large parking lot, with buses coming in and out, as opposed to a bus lane where people are exiting the buses. You’ll need to find the line for the Changuinola buses. If you’re facing the parking lot, the Changuinola buses will be on the far right-hand side. Pay approximately $8 and tell the driver you’re going to Almirante. The trip will be about 4 hours.
From Almirante to Isla Colon
When you arrive at the gas station in Almirante, take a $2 taxi to the lancha. Most of the time, the driver will note that you are a tourist and know that’s where you’re headed, but say “lancha” just to be safe. There are several boat companies you can travel with. The two main ones are Taxi 25 and Bocas Marine Tours. They both charge $6 one way per person and leave every 20 minutes (or whenever they fill) to bring you directly to Isla Colon. Boats run from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Important Note: you will need your passport or a copy of your passport with you to buy your bus tickets. This applies to all passengers and they will not sell you tickets for other passengers without their IDs.
If you’re tight on time and have the budget, you should consider flying into Bocas del Toro. You can purchase tickets to Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro through Air Panama. Prices start at US$110 one way from Panama City to Isla Colon.
You can usually get a flight up to a week in advance, unless you are traveling over a holiday in which case you’ll want to book further ahead of time. Multiple departures are available daily.
Note: You want to fly into Bocas del Toro, Isla Colon (airport code: BOC). Isla Colon is the official name of what most tourists call “Bocas Island”. The Isla Colon Airport is within walking distance to most places in the town of Bocas.
To get to Bocas del Toro from Boquete you’ll need to take the bus from the main piquera to David. The buses leave regularly throughout the day and cost approximately $2. It should take around 45 minutes to one hour to get to David.
In David, when you get off, cross over to where the buses depart and get in line for the Changuinola buses (far right side if you’re facing the bus parking lot). You will pay approximately $8 and tell the driver you’re going to Almirante. The trip will be about 4 hours. From the gas station in Almirante, follow the taxi and boat travel instructions above.
If you want to pay a little more and get to Bocas del Toro from Boquete directly, head down to Hostal Mamallena and buy a ticket for the shuttle which costs $30. You’ll need to buy your ticket at least a day in advance to guarantee your spot. The shuttle will bring you directly to the boat docks in Almirante.
From there, you’ll need to choose one of the several water taxi companies and head to Isla Colon. Boats charge around $6 one way per person and leave every 20 minutes or whenever they fill up. Boats run from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.
If you’re traveling through Costa Rica, you can get flights to Bocas del Toro through Nature Air. Flights leave several times a day and could cost you as little as $155 (plus an international departure fee of $28).
If you’re look for a more budget-friendly option. You can travel by bus from San Jose to Bocas del Toro by bus for about $25 per person. Buses leave daily from downtown San Jose (ask at the bus terminal where the buses depart from). You’ll want to look for buses going to Changuinola. From the Changuinola bus terminal, take an Almirante bus approximately 45 minutes and get off at the gas station in Almirante. From there, you can follow the instructions to the boat docks described above.
Travel Tip: If you are traveling from Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, you can often find direct shuttles going to Almirante as well. The shuttles will pick you up at your hotel at either 8:00 am or noon, escort you through immigration, and get you to the water taxi to Bocas Town on Isla Colon for about $30 per person.