Bocas del Toro is one of the most popular destinations in the entire Republic of Panama. Not only for its beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters but also for its incredible Caribbean atmosphere that makes your stay something to remember for a lifetime.
To go to the beaches, you must first arrive at a place in Bocas del Toro called Almirante, here you will only arrive to take a boat that will take you to Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro. It is there where you can find different options for tours to different islands. Panama has many options for you to enjoy the Caribbean Sea, if you are in Panama City and want to experience a Caribbean destination much closer, I recommend you take a look of this 5 reasons to visit San Blas in Panama. San Blas is another great Caribbean destination but closer to Panama City. And now lets began for what you came for, here I will explain in detail, how you can get from Panama City to the Province of Bocas del Toro, specifically to Isla Colon. From here you can go to the island of your destination.
By Bus to Bocas del Toro from Panama City
To start, you should go to the Panama Transport Terminal in Albrook, go to the counter (number B-31) of Tranceibosa to take a bus with the Panama - Bocas del Toro Route. The stop where the bus drops you depend on what your ticket says, so once you get to the counter, make sure to request a ticket to Almirante since the bus has different stops and Almirante is where you have to get off. I recommend you take a coat since it is a trip of around 10 hours and the air conditioning of the bus is turned on to the maximum. Once you arrive at the Almirante stop, you must take a taxi that will take you directly to the dock of Almirante, there is where the boat is taken to go to Isla Colon. Rest assured you, that you will not be the only one who is going to get off at that stop, this is the most popular option for its low cost. When you arrive at the dock you will find different boat companies that you can choose to take you to Isla Colon. In Isla Colon departs tours to other islands. For the return, you must buy your bus ticket at the Tranceibosa offices in Isla Colon or in Almirante (in Bocas del Toro).
How much it cost? The cost of the bus ticket with the Panama - Bocas del Toro (Almirante) route is 28 USD per person one-way. The taxi you must take to get to the Almirante pier costs 1 USD per person and when you arrive at the pier, the cost of the boat service for Panamanians and residents is 5 USD and for foreigners 6 USD, one way. You can negotiate and reach an agreement of 10 USD per person round trip.
Road trip by Car to Bocas del Toro
This method is one of the most used by locals. To get to Bocas del Toro you must first get to Almirante and then take the boat or ferry to Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro. To get to Almirante, you must leave Panama City by the Bridge of the Americas or the Centennial Bridge and drive on the Pan-American Highway for about 587 km (8 hours and 35 minutes approximately). Use the navigation applications, such as Google Maps and Waze for extra help. When you get to Almirante, you will find some garages where you can leave your car. Once you leave your car parked, you would only have to take one of the boats that provide the transport service to Isla Colon. The transfer by boat is approximately 25 minutes. You can stay on Isla Colon or take a tour of other islands from there. If you want to take your car to Isla Colon, you should take the ferry service provided by the Bocas Ferry company. They will take care of taking your car to Isla Colon.
How much it cost? This depends on how much fuel your car consumes. Based on my experience, about 70 USD of fuel for a sedan car is enough for the round trip from Panama City. The cost of the garage is USD 3 per day. The cost of the boat service for Panamanians and residents is 5 USD and for foreigners 6 USD, one-way tickets. You can negotiate and reach an agreement of 10 USD per person round trip. The ferry service has a cost per adult of 2 USD and you must stay in the car at all time, the cost of the transfer of your car depends on what type of vehicle it is, if it is a sedan it is 30 USD, if it is an SUV is 35 USD or if it is a large 4x4 it is 40 USD.
By a Private Transfer from Panama City
Booking a private transfer to Bocas del Toro is very easy. You pay the total on the website, place where you want to be picked up and ready, you will not have to worry about anything else. Transportation is to a place called Changuinola in Bocas del Toro, but you must notify the driver that you are going to stay in Almirante, Almirante is on the way to Changuinola. Once you are in Almirante, you must take one of the boats that offer the transfer to Isla Colon, since it is from here that the tours to other islands depart. Back to Panama City, you can also request the private transfer service and your driver will pick you up from Almirante.
How much it cost? The transfer is private, so the cost depends on the number of people that make up your group. In other words, the more people who travel with you, the cheaper the transfer will be. For example: if your group is 2 people, the transfer has a cost of USD 278 per person one-way, but if your group is 3 people, the cost is 222.50 USD per person one-way and so on. For the return, it has the same cost.
By Plane to Bocas del Toro from Albrook’s Airport in Panama City
This is the most popular option among travelers for its speed since it is only 1 hour away. You can make your flight reservation by Air Panama Airlines. On the day of the trip, you should go to Marcos A. Gelabert Airport in Albrook in Panama City and take your flight that will take you to Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro. Once you arrive in Bocas del Toro, you can take one of the taxis available at the airport to take you directly to your destination hotel. If you do not want to stay in Bocas del Toro, you can make the round trip the same day, you will have to take the morning flight and return to Panama City in the afternoon on the last flight of the day.
How much it cost? Airfare costs depend on the date you want to travel and the demand for flights for that date, but generally, they are around 200 USD round trip. The cost of the taxi inside Isla Colon is around 3 USD per person.
So What is the Most Recommended Way?
My recommendation to travel to Bocas del Toro is by plane, as it is the fastest and easiest option. Because you are going to arrive directly at Isla Colon, which is where you can stay or take any of the tours available to other islands. If you want to know the country on a long road trip, the option by car or private transfer to Bocas del Toro is for you. Finally, if you come to enjoy your vacation on a budget, the best option is to use the bus to get to Bocas del Toro.
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