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The rhythm of the light waves tapping at the shore made the only music on this otherwise peaceful morning. We soaked up still soft sun rays as we laid half asleep on the gentle, warm sand after arriving unusually early to the idyllic beach at Taboga Island. The 30 minute, 12-mile ferry ride leaves from the Balboa yacht club in Panama City at 8.30 each morning, filled mostly by locals and construction workers. This left us as the only passengers to head straight to the beach.  Had one of the shops or restaurants been open, we may have had coffee in one, but this tiny island in the Gulf of Panama, also known as ‘Island of Flowers’, was still fast asleep.
arrival on taboga island

After half an hour snoozing on an otherwise deserted beach, we opted for an early morning hike, before the sun would become too strong, forcing us into lazy beach mode. There are a few unmarked hiking trails which lead to hilly viewpoints, we were distracted by an area of hundreds of tiny, shiny green frogs frolicking in the forest. By the time we thought to continue, the sun had become too hot for a hike, forcing us back down to the beach.

Taboga Island beach

The stretch of sand suitable for swimmers is actually quite small, so without much left to explore, we planted ourselves right back where we had been sitting before on the sandy isthmus, and faced the other direction. By now, twenty or so others had come down to the beach from their hotels and holiday apartments, so we spent time people watching while wading in the crystal clear Pacific and watching the freighters far in the distance, lining up to cross through the Panama Canal as the solitude of the morning slowly burned off into a blazing hot afternoon.

Tabago Island beach & boats

Crispy from the sun and starving from the sea breeze, we headed into town in search of shade and some grub. Taboga Island, population 1,600, has no cars, a few shops and a smattering of restaurants and hotels around the island. Tourism is the top source of income, with fishing a close second. It would be easy to imagine a feeling of ultimate island solitude, but between the queued-up mega freighters and the Panama City skyline in the distance, it is impossible not to remain very aware of exactly where you are in the world.

taboga Island Path
After sucking down a few ice cold  Balboa beers and a heaping plate of fried rice, we returned to the beach, cooling off in the water until the ferry returned to take us back to the city, eight hours after dropping us off for our perfect Panama City escape.

Taboga Island beach & Panama City in the background
How to get to Taboga Island

We took the ferry from Balboa yacht club on the Amador Causeway; the return ticket was $12 per person. The ride takes around 30 minutes. Taxis from Panama City to the yacht club are around $5 (the easiest way to get there).

Check here for updated ferry times as they only leave a couple of times per day.

What to bring to Taboga Island
Sunscreen, a towel and a good read. There are several cheap restaurants near the ferry dock, a cool beer is $0.75.
Framed sea view taboga island

Tags : panamapanama citytaboga island

11 Comments

    1. Hi Matt, we’ve seen several little hotels (no hostels) but I don’t know how expensive they are… I think it would be great to stay overnight, enjoying the sunset and seeing Panama City all lit up at night 🙂

    1. **blush** thanks Julia! We hadn’t really heard of it until we went to Panama, either, but we really loved it. It’s easy, close, and cheap. Go if you get the chance!

    1. Thanks, Denise! The food was not very spectacular, to be honest – a lot of rice dishes, but all very meaty. If you’re not a vegetarian like we are, you can find many variations of rice & chicken, rice & pork etc. In Bocas del Toro, we had a wonderful potato salad (unusual dish for Central America!) but we didn’t find that anywhere else.

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