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How to visit Taboga Island by ferry in Panama City guide

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Just a short 30 minute ferry ride from Panama City, a trip to Taboga Island feels like a little slice of tropical island paradise.

As you approach Taboga Island by ferry or boat, the first thing that catches your attention are the brightly coloured dwellings dotted on the hill-side, then the sandy palm-tree lined beaches.

So far, so heavenly! As you’ll see, there are many things to do on Taboga Island (and eat and drink!).

A guide to Taboga Island in Panama City

Our visit and Taboga Island ferry trip also coincided with the annual Virgen del Carmen festival, held annually on 16 July (all over Panama and other Catholic countries too).

Also known as the ‘Island of Flowers’, Taboga Island is also famous for its tropical fruit including pineapple and mangoes. Here is our travel guide to Taboga Island, Panama City 2023:

How to get to Taboga Island from Panama City

Independently by Ferry

It is easy to take the Panama City to Taboga Island ferry – the Taboga Island Express ferries depart from the Amador Causeway harbour in Panama City every day.

There is a ferry four times a day on weekdays, with an extra service on Saturdays and Sunday).

We recommend visiting Taboga Island by ferry on a weekday when the island is a bit quieter and to book your tickets in advance online as the ferries can sell out especially at weekends.

As at March 2023, the ferry costs $24 USD for a return trip (adult tourist) or $20 USD for a local / Panama resident.

Taboga Island Ferry Schedule 2023

The Tobago Island Ferry from Amador Causeway in Panama City takes 30 minutes and departs as follows (times correct as at March 2023):

Panama City to Taboga Island: 8am, 9:30am, 11am, 3pm 4.30pm (Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays only)

Taboga Island to Panama City: 8:45am, 10:15am, 2:30pm, 4pm, 5pm (Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays only)

The best way to reach the harbour to get the ferry is by car (there is plenty of parking) or by taking an Uber taxi.

Alternatively take the Metro to Albrook Mall (Panama City) and then board a bus that goes to ‘Amador Causeway’.

Taboga Island Express ferry Panama City
Taboga Express ferry

Taboga Island Tours

Alternatively you can book a day tour to Taboga Island which usually includes hotel pickup/drop off in Panama City, transport, lunch, walking tours etc.

Check out Viator for a selection of Taboga Island tours or this all-Inclusive Taboga Island Catamaran Cruise >

How to get around Taboga Island

There are no proper roads or public transport on the island meaning the only way for visitors to get around is by foot. We saw a lot of locals get around Taboga by using a golf buggy but we couldn’t see anywhere to rent these for the day.

Boats for hire also circle Taboga island, to get to and from the many coves, although all the bars and restaurants are based around the main ferry port so you should be OK to just walk.

Taboga Beaches

The two main Taboga Island beaches welcome you at the ferry port (Playa Honda beach to the left, Playa Restinga to the right).

The beach waters are warm and quite calm, and when we arrived at 8.30am, people were already swimming. Deck chairs and parasols can be hired from the various beach vendors.

Taboga Island in Panama City Playa honda
Playa Honda

The two main beaches are a little different – the beach at Playa Honda has better facilities and the sand is more golden.

Playa Restinga has amazing views of Panama City’s skyscrapers across the bay, but the beach is a little more rough and ready (lots of shells and stones).

Our best Taboga Island beach was Playa Honda, where we could relax at some of the beach bars. At Playa Honda, you can drink ice cold beers for $1 or snack on meat skewers from the beach vendors. In our opinion, this was one very ‘Happy Hour’.

Taboga Island in Panama City Playa Restinga
Playa Restinga
Taboga Island in Panama City Playa Restinga
Playa Restinga
Playa Restinga

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Island Walks

If you want to go for a wander through the local village, head to the left along the waterfront as you depart the ferry terminal and head up the steps.

You’ll walk through several villages (including Taboga’s new town here), and past local shops – there are also lots of chickens running around across the main paths; clucking hell.

We also saw many mini ‘shrines’ and ended our Taboga Island walk when we got to the Taboga cemetery overlooking the sea.

We spoke to a few villagers who recommended the walk to the top of the hill to the big cross for awesome coastal views, but it was so hot the day we visited that we decided not to hike up.

Taboga Island’s highest peaks are referred to as Cerro Vigia or Cerro de la Cruz.

Another friend in Panama City also told us they’d seen lots of Taboga Island snakes on the hillside tracks on a previous visit so we decided to ‘hiss off’ and leave the snakes to it.

St Peter’s Church / Church of San Pedro

Claimed to be the second oldest church in the western hemisphere (founded around 1524 by the Spanish Conquistadors), it was the 16 July ‘Virgen del Carmen’ annual celebration on the day we visited Tobago Island.

The Church of San Pedro was the focal point of activities on the day, with the festivities preceded by a two hour mass.

St Peter’s Church / Church of San Pedro Taboga Island in Panama City

The church was full and bedecked with flowers, with the ‘Virgen del Carmen’ figure at the front by the altar which was set to be carried through the streets by the villagers to the beach later that day.

St Peter’s Church / Church of San Pedro Taboga Island in Panama City

Taboga Bars and Restaurants

There are ample bars, restaurants and eateries on Taboga Island by the main pier, with something to suit all tastes. There are lots of sit down restaurants on Taboga Island but many are simple huts right on the beach selling ice-cold $1 beers or local / quick snacks like ceviche or roasted chicken.

We arrived early on Taboga Island by ferry (around 8.30am) and found Mundi’s Restaurant, where we had a deck overlooking the beach all to ourselves.

The views at Mundi’s Restaurant were incredible, service was good and a hot breakfast (e.g. pancakes and scrambled eggs) with a fresh passion fruit juice cost around $10 each including service and tip.

Breakfast at Mundi’s Restaurant, Taboga Island in Panama City
Breakfast at Mundi’s Restaurant

We also had lunch at Restaurante Playa Honda, as it had a nice outdoor deck directly overlooking the Playa Honda beach and had ample shade from the afternoon sun. Beers were cheap and most hot main dish prices were reasonable – we had garlic prawns and fries; delicious.

We also visited Ricardo’s Bar near St Peter’s Church to cool off from the sun as well. Beers were the cheapest we’d seen on Taboga Island and this felt more like a locals bar as we were the only tourists in sight.

Restaurante Playa Honda Taboga Island Panama City
Restaurante Playa Honda
Restaurante Playa Honda Taboga Island Panama City
Garlic prawns at Restaurante Playa Honda

Taboga Island Sign

Popular all across Panama City, Taboga has also joined the big sign party, with a massive colourful sign by the beach huts, just as you arrive off the ferry.

Taboga Island sign in Panama City

As the backdrop to the Taboga sign is the glorious Playa Honda and lush verdant mountains, surely this has to be the most serene sign setting in the whole of Panama?

Virgen del Carmen Festival (16 July)

Purely by chance, our trip to Taboga island coincided with the annual catholic Virgen del Carmen festival on the 16 July. 

Venerated worldwide for centuries, Taboga’s take on the festival is particularly unique and renowned in Panama, as the celebrations take place on and around the main Playa Honda beach.

Virgen del Carmen Festival Taboga Island Panama City

An aquatic procession awaits, with many ships and boats decked out in colourful decorations – the figure of Virgen del Carmen is taken around the island by boat, accompanied by a band (in another boat) and other well-wishers in other vessels.

The beach also takes on a party atmosphere during the Taboga Island Virgen del Carmen proceedings, with fireworks being regularly let off and a DJ setting up shop right on the beach.

Virgen del Carmen Festival Taboga Island Panama City

Taboga Island Facilities

There are several toilet blocks and changing facilities / showers available near to both of the main beaches – all charge an entry fee (generally 50c to $1USD for use of the bathroom, and around $2 for using the showers).

The facilities nearest to the big colourful ‘Taboga’ sign offer an all day access pass to their toilet / shower / changing rooms for $2 (they give you a wristband).

We generally had beers in beachside bars so we used their own toilets (free in all the bars we went to if you are a paying customer).

Taboga Island Accommodation

If you want to stay on Taboga longer than just a day, then there are quite a few accommodation options on the island, here are some examples:

Taboga Palace Spa Hotel – has a sun terrace and an infinity pool, with some rooms having views of the ocean at Playa Honda beach.

Villa Caprichosa – is a luxuriously decorated boutique style hotel and offers spacious suites, villas and studios, plus a swimming pool.

Hotel Vereda Tropical – the rooms in this hotel are cheap and have balconies overlooking the ocean at Playa Honda beach.

Hotel Vereda Tropical Taboga Island Panama City
Hotel Vereda Tropical

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