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How to get to BOCAS DEL TORO from Costa Rica by bus, shuttle & ferry

Are you planning to travel to Bocas del Toro from Costa Rica? In this article, I’ll provide you with information on how to reach Bocas del Toro from any location in the country. Specifically, I’ll cover how to get there from PUERTO VIEJO (shuttle), CAHUITA (shuttle), and SAN JOSÉ (shuttle), using transfer services or a combination of BUS and ferry.

Here is what you will find:

How to get to Bocas del Toro from Costa Rica

If you are planning a trip to Costa Rica (👉COSTA RICA GUIDE), you should know that it is a country characterized by the beauty of its beaches, mountains, volcanoes and the diversity of its wildlife.

If you’re foreigner planning a trip, in this link you can check the ✅ SANITARY REQUIREMENTS and get a VISA. Also, to help you travel without spending too much, in this link you’ll find ✈️ CHEAP FLIGHTS and a 💥10% DISCOUNT on your TRAVEL INSURANCE.

When browsing the internet during your trip, it is essential to use a 👉 QUALITY VPN to ensure your privacy and security. Additionally, bringing a ⭐ TRAVEL DEBIT CARD will help you avoid issues with carrying cash and reduce the risk of theft.

Bocas del Toro, an archipelago situated on the Caribbean coast of Panama, is a destination that promises a unique and authentic experience amidst nature. The place is known for its impressive biodiversity, with animals such as sloths, howler monkeys, and toucans found throughout the area.

Moreover, the local cuisine is rich and varied, showcasing a blend of Caribbean and Panamanian influences. For the adventure seekers, there are plenty of activities to indulge in, including snorkeling, surfing, and hiking in the tropical forests. Alternatively, visitors can choose to relax on quiet beaches and take in the spectacular views of the sea.

Transport options to get to Bocas del Toro

There are several transportation options available for reaching Bocas del Toro from Costa Rica that are both convenient and cost-effective. Here is a brief, informative list of the available options:

  • Transfer: Direct transportation services are available from SAN JOSÉ (shuttle), PUERTO VIEJO (shuttle), and CAHUITA (shuttle) to the Almirante dock, where you can board a ferry that will take you to Bocas del Toro. The transfer price includes the ferry ticket, making it the most comfortable option if you prefer not to fly.
  • Bus and ferry: If you’re looking for a more adventurous option, you can take a bus to Almirante and then board a ferry to Bocas del Toro. Although this option is less expensive than a transfer, it takes longer and involves connections.
  • Plane: If you want the fastest option, you can take a flight from San Jose to the Bocas del Toro airport. While it takes around 45 minutes to fly, it is more expensive than the other options.
  • Car: Alternatively, you can rent a car in San Jose and drive to Changuinola, where you can park your car and board the ferry to Bocas del Toro. This option is ideal if you prefer to travel at your own pace.

How to get to Bocas del Toro by SHUTTLE

Direct transfers to Bocas del Toro depart from three locations: 👉SAN JOSÉ (shuttle), 👉PUERTO VIEJO (shuttle), and the nearby town of 👉CAHUITA (shuttle).

The journey is quite long as it involves crossing the border to complete exit procedures from Costa Rica and entry procedures into Panama. You will also need to pay a fee of $10 (in cash and in dollars) at the border. Once you cross the border, another car will be waiting to take you to the ferry that will transport you to Bocas del Toro.

Please note that at the border, you may be asked to provide a document that confirms that you are not planning to stay in Panama, such as a reservation for a return transfer to Costa Rica or a flight out of the country.

The trip from Puerto Viejo takes about 4 hours to reach Bocas del Toro, while the journey time from San José can extend up to 10 hours.

If you plan to visit Bocas del Toro from other parts of Costa Rica, I highly recommend that you take the transfer and depart early, as it is a very long trip that requires making several combinations if traveling by public transport.

For your convenience, I provide links to transfers departing from various popular locations in Costa Rica to San José and Puerto Viejo. If you cannot find the route you are looking for, you can check for more transfers here.

How to get to Bocas del Toro by BUS + Ferry

I am going to tell you how to get to Bocas del Toro from San José and Puerto Viejo. If you are in a different town, you must first arrive at one of these two places (you can check the different routes here).

How to get to Bocas del Toro by BUS + Ferry from San José & Puerto Viejo

In both cases you must take a bus to Sixaola. And from there the steps you must follow will be the same.

bus from San José to Sixaola

The journey begins at Terminal de Transportes MEPE in San José, where you can board a bus headed to Sixaola. The fare for the ticket is approximately 7820 CRC, which is equal to roughly 14 $USD. The bus ride spans roughly 248 kilometers and takes approximately 6 hours.

Bus schedule from San José to Sixaola

Sixaola to San JoséSan José to Sixaola
02:00 am06:00 am
04:30 am08:00 am
08:00 am10:00 am
11:00 am02:00 pm
03:00 pm04:00 pm

Bus from Puerto Viejo to Sixaola

To travel from Puerto Viejo to Sixaola by bus, you can catch the bus at the MEPE bus stop located next to the beach. The ticket fee for the bus ride is 1690 CRC (3$). The journey is about 1 hour until your destination.

bus schedule from Puerto Viejo to Sixaola

From Monday to Saturday: every hour from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. There is a last bus at 8:15 p.m.

Sundays and Holidays: every two hours from 06:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to 18:30. There is a last bus at 8:15 p.m.

from Sixaola to Bocas del Toro

Upon arriving at Sixaola, you will need to go through the border checkpoint to complete the necessary procedures for departing Costa Rica and entering Panama. The corresponding fees of $10 (in cash and USD) are required to be paid.

Please note that at the border checkpoint, you may be required to provide documentation that verifies your intention to leave Panama, such as a reservation for your return transfer to Costa Rica or a flight out of the country.

After crossing the border, proceed to the Almirante pier, where you can take a ferry to Bocas del Toro. You have two options for this journey:

  • Shared taxi is the most comfortable and convenient option to reach the jetty, which takes about an hour and costs $10.
  • Taxi+bus: this option is less practical but more affordable. At the border, you can take a taxi to Changuinola, which costs $5 per person. From Changuinola, you can take a bus to Almirante, which costs around $1.50.

Upon arriving at Almirante pier, you will need to take a ferry to Bocas del Toro. The boat fare is approximately $6, and the journey typically takes around 30 minutes. Boats depart every half hour from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Tours and activities in Bocas del Toro

Panama is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and idyllic beaches. In Bocas del Toro, visitors can indulge in an array of activities and tours, including diving into its crystalline waters, admiring the vibrant starfish, and lounging on the beach while savoring a refreshing coconut drink.

Is Costa Rica Safe to Travel? 

Costa Rica is a moderately dangerous country, where nothing should happen to you if you go carefully and take precautions. Remember to follow these recommendations:

  • In case of robbery, do not resist physically.
  • Do not show a high purchasing power, that is, do not go with jewels, bags, etc … that are expensive.
  • Be careful if you go out at night, and stay in crowded places where you are surrounded by other people.
  • Thefts are usual, so don’t go with the camera or mobile in your hand or hang out of your neck.
  • Try to avoid carrying the backpack on the back. Put it in front of you, or use a belt pouch or a cross bag.

Personally, I spent 3 months traveling alone in Costa Rica (I visited San José, Puerto Viejo, Tortuguero, Dominical, Uvita, Bay Drake and Puerto Jiménez) and I did not find myself in any really serious situation.

Going down the street with the camera, several Costa Rican people approached and warned me that they were carefully with robberies, since they told me that they are very frequent.

In my case, during the trip they tried to steal 2 times and, luckily, I realized on time and I could avoid it. In any case, it is always a good idea to have travel insurance that can compensate you financially and help you if a medical emergency occurs.

👉 If you are interested in traveling alone, I recommend this article about the reasons and benefits of traveling alone and this other article with tips for traveling alone being a woman. I encourage you to try it since it is a great and very profitable experience for oneself.

Eating Vegan in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is not a country faced with vegan food. Anyway, they have some traditional dishes that are vegan or that you can ask without egg or sauces such as the pico of rooster (rice with beans for breakfast), black bean soup or rice with vegetables.

You should always ask if the purés or soups are made with some type of dairy product or meat broth, since at first glance they might seem vegan dishes but not be.

In San José you can find some vegan restaurants, but when you leave the capital the offer is very limited or non -existent. Next, I make three recommendations and in this link you can read tips to travel vegan.

  1. Try to stay in hotels that are characterized by cooking vegan and vegetarian dishes. This is the best option and the most practical for not having to be looking for places where to eat comfortable without always repeating the same dishes.
  2. Before going on a tour that includes a meal, always mention that you are vegan or vegetarian, so that they can adapt the food.
  3. Costa Rica is a country where you can find a variety of fresh products (fruits and vegetables) to prepare salads and breakfast with fruits. In any city or town, you will easily find some supermarket or stalls on the street where you can buy groceries.

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