Figuring out how to get from Panama City to Bocas Del Toro was pretty simple really – but long. We took the overnight bus from Panama City to Almirante, and it was pretty eventful. The bus left at about 6pm and was supposed to take 10 hours, so that we could arrive in time to catch the 7am ferry from Almirante to Bocas del Toro. It ended up taking about 13 hours. We got delayed in the middle of the night about 2 hours outside of Almirante. From what we could gather there was a protest and a group of the indigenous population was blocking the road. We couldn’t quite understand, with our extremely limited Spanish, what the protest was about, but we settled in to wait.
At the rest stop that we were parked, the tedium of the wait was interrupted by a near death experience. Andrew and I were sitting on the curb in front of a restaurant and there was a ute parked in front of us. The ute started reversing towards us, so we moved and told them that they nearly hit the restaurant. The ute moved forward and we sat back down. Suddenly the ute started reversing at full speed towards us and we had to dive out of the way to avoid it. The ute then smashed straight into the restaurant wall. It was crazy! The police were there right away and there was a bit of a commotion, but it was all in Spanish, it looked like the guy driving was really drunk. Nobody seemed too phased that we nearly got run over though, which we found kind of funny. We arrived in Almirante just before 7am and managed to make the slow ferry to Bocas del Toro, it only cost a dollar, so cheap!
Bocas del Toro was great; we really enjoyed our time here. What to do in Bocas Del Toro? You stay on the main island but then take day trips out to the smaller, prettier islands. We stayed at a cheap hostel in town but spent most of our time hanging out at the more expensive Selina’s Hostel, which is right on the water. They have a bar and seating area that you can hang out at even if you aren’t staying there, it’s perfect! And you can swim right off a platform from the bar.
We really loved the food in Bocas del Toro. There is a barbecue stall on the side of the street that does jerk chicken and is truly the best chicken I have ever eaten! We also found a nice Italian-esque bakery that had the best breakfast sandwiches and good coffee; we went there every morning.
On our second day we went on a small speedboat tour of a bunch of the islands. We stopped at various islands to go snorkeling and eat coconuts and drink rum. It was a fantastic day! On one of the islands we got to see some sloths! One was chasing another one and eventually managed to grab it, it was definitely the slowest paced fight we had ever seen.
Our favourite stop was the last one where there was a bar jutting out over the ocean and platforms that you could drink and chill on. There was also fantastic snorkeling.
It was then time to say goodbye to Panama and make our way into Costa Rica. Bocas del Toro was a great place to relax and enjoy some beautiful islands, highly recommend a stop here if you are ever in Panama.
Here is a breakdown of our costs for 2 days:
Budget = US$163 (NZ$240)
Accommodation – US$50
Activities – US$60
Food/Drink – US$115
Travel (incl. Taxis) – US$4
Total spent – US$229 (NZ$339)
So, we ended up being US$66 (NZ$97) over budget. Not ideal, but it was difficult to see where we could have cut costs. Bocas del Toro is a bit more expensive than Panama City because of the activities that you want to do here. Our experience would not have been as good if we did not take a boat out to see the islands. Check out my other blog posts on what to do in Panama.