Yes, it’s still possible to visit Bocas del Toro on a backpacking budget.
Bocas del Toro is beautiful…and surprisingly budget friendly!
An emerald jewel atop the blue sea, the Bocas del Toro archipelago is a verdant collection of tropical islands and islets in Panama. Sitting upon azure and turquoise (and in certain places crystal clear) waters, the islands are surrounded by ancient coral reefs and robust marine life.
Active travelers will find Bocas extremely appealing. There are a hundred and one things to do in Bocas del Toro other than relaxing on a pristine beach. Snorkeling, diving, fishing, surfing, bird watching, hiking, and biking are all within easy distance from the capital and main tourist hub Bocas Town on Isla Colón (Colon Island).
Sounds wonderful, right? A proper little piece of paradise, really.
And the best thing is…Bocas del Toro is still extremely budget and backpacker friendly!
Backpacking Bocas del Toro
We spent a total of four (blissful) weeks living on Isla Colon in Bocas Town. Our expected daily budget was $40.00 USD per person during our stay.
No, that’s not super cheap by certain Central American backpacking standards, it’s still a very affordable sum for most budget travelers. We do feel that super thrifty travelers can spend as little as $20.00 to $25.00 per day, especially if they are really frugal with their money. This entails cutting out adult beverages, living in a hostel dorm/camping, cooking your own meals, and not partying (unless someone else is picking up the tab!)
Of course this minimum daily budget for Bocas del Toro budget does NOT include activities like boat trips, but we will discuss that below.
Down below you will find a breakdown of prices we encountered in Bocas del Toro, Panama. Hopefully this price list will give you a decent idea of what you can expect to pay when visiting of backpacking Bocas del Toro, and help you plan and budget your visit accordingly.
Note – Panama uses the US Dollar so there is no conversion rate.
Bocas Del Toro on a Backpacking Budget
Best Hotel in Bocas del Toro – Selina Hostels
Selina Hostel is the highest rated hostel in Bocas Town and it’s easy to see why. The boutique hostel is centrally located near popular bars and restaurants, they have a waterfront deck, a restaurant & bar, and a fully equipped shared kitchen. They offer services like bike and quad rentals, and dive trips, surf lessons, and island tours. Guests can choose from private rooms and dorm beds, and breakfast is included. Click here to book or read their reviews.
Best Budget Hotel in Bocas del Toro – Barrbra B&B
If you’re looking for the best mid-range hotel in Bocas del Toro, look no further.
Barrbra B&B is a cozy two-story hotel built directly on the sea just a 15 minute walk from Bocas Town. The small hotel offers rooms with either private or shared bathrooms and has a communal living room, dining room, kitchen, and terrace for guests. Barrbra B&B is the perfect place to relax but the friendly hosts are always happy to arrange activities like cycling, surfing, or snorkeling.
So if you want to avoid staying in a hostel and prefer a relaxed mid-range hotel check out Barrbra B&B. Click here to book or read their reviews.
Estimated Prices on Hotels and Hostels in Bocas del Toro
- Private Room for Two People Starting at $25.00 – $33.00 a night
- Single Rooms Starting at $15.00
- Dorm Bed Starting at $12.00
- Apt Rental Per Month – Ranging from $400 to $700 for a one bedroom fully equipped with A/C, wi-fi, hot water, and kitchen. Prices vary according to location and season.
Find Great Rates on the Best Hotels in Bocas del Toro with Booking.com!
- Lunch at Leaf Eaters Cafe – Veggie burger, Hippie Bowl or Veggie Tacos – $6.00 – $7.00
- Lunch Special at El Pirata Restaurant – Plate of baked quarter chicken or whole fried fish with rice, beans, plantains, salad and soda. $5.00
- Lunch or Dinner at Taco Surf – Two tacos, rice, beans, and chips for $8.00
- Dinner at Olga’s Restaurant – Rice, beans, and plantains – $4.00. Chicken fried rice $6.00
- 1/2 lb Potatoes – $1.20
- 1/2 lb Onions – $0.40
- 1/2 lb Carrots – $0.40
- Head of Garlic – $0.25
- 3/4 lb Squash – $1.00
- 1/2 lb Cucumber – $0.25
- Baguette – $1.50 from a gourmet store or 2 for $0.90 from the local bakery
- Large Mango – $1.00
- 1 lb Bag of Lentils – $0.80
- 1/4 lb Bell Peppers – $0.35
- 1/2 lb Tomatoes – $0.65
- Snickers Bar – $0.85
- Bag of Spaghetti – $0.95
- 10 Pack of Hot Dogs – $3.00
- 150 g Corn Flakes – $2.50
- 7.25 oz Box of Mac & Cheese – $1.30
- 2 lbs Brown Rice – $1.65
- 8 oz Can Refried Beans – $1.35
- 2 lb White Rice – $1.25
- Small Bottle Soy Sauce – $0.75
- 450 grams Pancake Mix – $2.25
- 1 Dozen Eggs – $2.45
- 250 ml Olive Oil – $3.25
- Small Tube of Toothpaste – $1.35
- 1 Bar Dove Soap – $1.35
- Small Bottle Gatorade – $1.00
- Liter of Peach Juice – $1.50
- 1 Liter Bacardi Rum – $10.00
- 2 Gallons Water at the Grocery Store – $2.00
- 1/2 Gallon of Water at the Refill Center – $0.25
- 6 Pack Local Beer – $4.50
- Bottle of Chilean Wine – $6.25
- Glass of IPA at Bocas Brewery – $4.00
- Yoga Class at Bocas Yoga – $5.00
- Board Diving, Dolphin and Sloth Watching and Transportation to Zapatillas Island – $35.00 (price negotiated down from $50.00 and excludes the lunch and drinks that are usually included)
- Bike Rental – Half day: $5.00, Full Day: $7.00
- Shuttle to Bocas del Drago and Starfish Beach – $5.00 RT per person
- Boat to Red Frog Beach – $7.00 RT per person
- Red Frog Beach Entry Fee – $3.00 per person
- Boat to Carenero Island Beach – $2.00 per person each way
- Sea Turtle Conservation Tour – $15.00 per person, plus transportation
- Bus from Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica to the Sixaola on the Border of Panama – $7.00
- Taxi from the Border to Alirante, Panama – $5.00 per person
- Boat to Bocas del Toro – $4.00 per person
- Panama Entry Fee – $3.00 per person (make sure you have proof of out bound travel when entering Panama from Costa Rica)
- Costa Rica Exit Fee – $7.00 per person
Expenses for activities you might want to partake in should not be factored into your daily budget. This becomes overly complicated. An easier way of going about things is to calculate your minimum daily cost and then set aside all left over funds you care to spend into an “activities” pool. Thus on a day when we went snorkeling at Isla Zapatillas, took a taxi to Playa Starfish, a boat to Red Frog Beach, or had a few extra drinks in the evening we did not consider ourselves over budget even though we spent more than $35.00 USD, we just subtracted it out of the “activities” pool.
You need to remember to set aside some money for things like buses and border crossings if you are bakpacking down Central America and plan on being on the move often. That aside the above formula should be a great place to start when budgeting the trip of your dreams.
Also, be sure to check out our Top Ten Bocas del Toro list for the best of what Bocas del Toro has to offer!
Disclaimer – We have included a few handy little affiliate links in case any of our readers want to book accommodations. We receive a small commission for any sales made, without any additional cost to you, our dear reader.