You may have heard of Isla Taboga. You may have not. But one thing’s for sure; this little island in the Panama Bay is one of the best-known secrets for both locals and expats, and is a gem of a beach escape just minutes from downtown Panama City. This island is classically Panamanian, serving as a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the capital for its residents, for many years. It’s got beaches, a small town, and is incredibly easy to get to by boat or ferry. You won’t find many hotels or resorts here, but a humble village with as much peace and serenity as any of Panama’s remote islands and beaches, just 45 minutes away.
What to do on Isla Taboga
One of the biggest draws of Isla Taboga is that it’s easy to do a day trip there if you live in, or near Panama City. There are multiple ferries that leave each morning from Balboa (Panama Canal Zone, right bank) very early, and ones that return from Taboga in the AM and PM. This means that almost all of the popular things to do on Taboga revolve around day activities. People love swimming on the beach, sunbathing, snorkeling, jet skiing, and diving nearby. There is a small village that is perched on a hill, which makes for a great (although a bit steep) hike. You can catch some great views from the top, and have an authentic Panamanian lunch at one of the local cafes or restaurants.
If you go on a weekend, expect larger crowds, especially on the main beach at the town entrance. If you’re looking for something more private, you can hike around to the other side, but be warned, it’s pretty remote, and the tide may stick you there for a while longer than planned. You can also spend the night, as there are a number of small hotels, all of which offer relatively great prices, and rustic views and décor
How to get to Isla Taboga
The easiest way to get to Isla Taboga from Panama City is to take the Calypso ferries. There is the Calypso Queen, Calypso Princess, and the Calypso King. These are standard covered ferries, with decently large capacities that can get you to and from the island in around 45 minutes. According to their parent company’s website:
Departs from the Causeway
Sat, Sun and Holidays 8:00am, 10:30am, 4:00pm
Mon and Fri 8:30am, 3:00pm
Tue, Wed, and Thu 8:30am
Returns from Isla Taboga
Sat, Sun and Holidays 9:00am, 3:00pm, 5:00pm
Mon and Fri 9:30am, 4:30pm
Tue, Wed, and Thu 4:30pm
You can also charter a private boat to take you and your friends to Taboga, with many offering party cruises and sailing trips that last for just the day. Even if your boat just makes a brief stop on the island, you’ll have plenty to see, as the surrounding waters are gorgeous, and full of sea life and other leisure boaters. We highly recommend you visit Isla Taboga during your stay, or while living in Panama. It’s a great refreshing trip from the city, and will give you a taste at the beautiful juxtaposition between nature and urban life that only Panama can offer.