If you’re looking for a quick and easy day trip to the beach from Panama City, it doesn’t get any easier than Taboga Island.
Taboga Island is home to 1,700 inhabitants that are mostly Panamanians and just a few foreigners that have made it their home. The history of the island dates back to the days of pirates and was a popular rest stop for Captain Morgan and his crew. It’s also known for having the second oldest church in Latin America and it’s colorful flowers throughout the town.
Normally visiting a beach in Panama requires at least a 1.5-hour drive from the city, and if you don’t have a car that can be a problem. However, Taboga Island is accessible by a quick, 30-minute ferry ride via Taboga Express from the beautiful Amador Causeway. To arrive you can just put Taboga Express into Uber, Waze, or Google Maps and it will get you there. Tickets can be booked for $20 round trip via tabogaexpress.com or bought at the ticket stand once you arrive. You can also take a catamaran there with Panama Sailing Tours for $89 which includes an open bar, snacks, and lunch.
Taboga is one of the most popular day trips on the weekend for locals, which means you might want to go on a weekday if you can. My last visit was on a Tuesday and it was AMAZING having almost the entire beach to myself. The water was clear & calm, it was quiet, and there was hardly any trash around. You also have more bargaining power on beach chairs and umbrellas. This is very different from the crowds of people that flock there on the weekend to park their yachts and often leave the beach littered with trash.
You also have to keep in mind that this is the best beach for the value accessibility. It’s nowhere near as nice as the beaches in the Pearl Islands or San Blas, but those also cost over $100 to visit. It’s also best to be at the beach when it’s high-tide since it can be a little rocky at low-tide. You can check out the tide schedule here.
But what is there to do once you’re in Taboga? Besides relaxing and enjoying the playa you can walk through the quaint and colorful town, hike to the top of El Cruce for an amazing view, go snorkeling, or take a historical tour just to name a few. The Taboga Tour Center also has a few excursions you can book once you arrive.
The island also has some pretty good dining options. If you’re on a budget, beachside ceviche can be purchased for around $2 or the famous La Vista restaurant is pricey but offers a world-class dining experience and amazing views. Calaloo, Playa Honda Restaurant, Mundi’s, and London’s Pier Bar & Grill are a few of my other favorites!
You might even want to stay longer on Taboga and the island now offers much nicer accommodation options than it used to. Villa Caprichosa is a luxurious bed and breakfast that looks like it’s straight from a fairy tale, Taboga Palace offers something right in town with a beautiful swimming pool for all guests, or The Palm Beach Hostel offers accommodation for the budget traveler.
Have you visited Taboga Island recently? What did you think? Leave a comment below.