From Panama City to Bocas Del Toro by Air
The best way to get to Bocas from Panama City is to fly. The flight is just under an hour and will cost around $100. Air Panama and Aeroperlas have morning and afternoon flights on a regular schedule directly to Isla Colon where Bocas town is located. Coming to Panama from an international destination will usually require an overnight stay in Panama City and you need to figure that in your plans. All flights to Bocas leave from Albrook Airport.
From Panama City Bocas Del Toro to by Land
A bus leaves the city every night at 8 PM for Almirante from Gran Terminal de Albrook close to the Albrook Airport. The trip to Almirante costs around $23 and takes 9 hours. From Almirante you will need to catch a water taxi to Bocas. Two water taxi companies run regular trips to the island, Bocas Marine Tours and Taxi 25, from Almirante in the early morning to early evening. The water taxis will cost about $4 a person.
By car the drive is about 10 hours to Almirante where you can leave your car in a protected lot for around about $3 a day and take a water taxi to the island or you can catch the car ferry to the island if you want to bring your car to the island. The car ferry only leaves Almirante at 8 AM it fills up fast so plan on being in line by 6 AM. It will cost about $40 to bring a car on the ferry. The island is small and there are many convenient and inexpensive (50 cents a person) taxis; a car is not a necessity on the island.
From David City To Bocas Del Toro by Air
Three times a week there are flights from David to Bocas on Aeroperlas. The flight is about 20 minutes and will cost around $40 a person.
From David City to Boca Del Toro by Land
You can drive from David to Almirante and take a water taxi to Bocas, leaving your car in a protected lot in Almirante. The drive is best done in the day time as you are driving through the mountains and the road is a little bit tricky. The time is about 4 hours.
Small, comfortable minibuses travel between David and Almirante. The bus ride between David and Almirante takes approximately 4 – 4 1/2 hours and costs $8.00 or $10.00 per person depending on where you get on.
You also can rent a taxi from David to Almirante; you must negotiate a fare with the driver but look for the price to be over $120 dollars.
From San Jose, Costa Rica to Bocas by Air
The best way from San Jose to Bocas is by air. Nature Air has three flights weekly to Bocas from the San Jose’s Pavas Airport. The flight will cost about $140 one way and the planes are small and sell out so make your reservations in advance. Keep in mind this is an international flight and you will have to clear customs in Bocas. One of the requirements is that you will have to show you have booked return fare to San Jose or to another destination outside Panama. Usually this requires you physically show customs a bus or airplane ticket, this requirement is often a surprise to the traveler causing a flurry of activity searching for already purchased tickets or buying one in order to get into Panama.
From San Jose, Costa Rica to Bocas by Land
By land you can drive to the Costa Rica/Panama border at Sixaola and cross the bridge into Panama. The drive is about five hours and the roads are not that good but being improved daily. If you are driving a rental car you will have to leave it on the Costa Rica side of the border. It is also not worth bringing a car you own across the border so plan on leaving it in a lot on the Costa Rica side. Crossing the Sixaola bridge is however an experience worth having. The bridge is old and the wooden planks that make up the deck are uneven and rickety and you walk across one-lane bridge with the buses and truck rumbling by.
Across the border you can take a bus or taxi to Almirante and catch a water taxi to Bocas. A warning, the time at the border customs can be frustrating so be patient and have your paper work in order so those behind you do not have to wait any longer than necessary.
There are also shuttles from San Jose to Bocas in air conditioned vans. The shuttle costs vary but typically range between $60+ a person. The shuttles take care of most things including helping you get through customs and across the Sixaola bridge, van transportation on the Panama side of the border to Almirante and the ferry ride to Bocas. Most San Jose hotels know how to arrange this convenient shuttle service for you.
From Pureto Viejo, Costa Rica to Bocas by Land
You can get from Puerto Viejo to Sixaola by bus or taxi. A bus ticket is around $4 per person and taxi will cost about $50 from Puerto Viejo to Sixaola. From the Panama side of the bridge you will have to catch another bus or taxi to Almirante. The bus will be around $6 a person and a taxi about $20 from the border to Almirante. In Almirante you can catch one of the two water ferries to Bocas at a cost of $4 per person.
The most carefree way to get from Pureto Viejo to Bocas is with Caribe Shuttle which for $32 a person will pick you up at your hotel in Pureto Viejo, take you to Sixaola, assist you with customs and provide you with another van on the Panama side of the bridge to take you to the water taxis in Almirante. The shuttle cost includes your water taxi ride to Bocas.
Getting to Bocas is not that difficult if you do a little planning and remember that you are coming to an island. Most people will help you if you just ask and Spanish is not necessary but if you speak the language it will be easier.