Panama Isla Taboga is a Pacific island off the coast of Panama.

Published on June 10th, 2015 | by Mark Chesnut

Isla Taboga is a Pacific island off the coast of Panama.

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“People with cars go to the beach in Coronado or other places on the coast,” said my Panamanian friend Kenny. “People without cars go to Taboga.” As we bobbed along the Pacific in a rather full ferry boat, it was easy to believe that this must be one of the easiest Central America beach day trips for city dwellers and visitors alike. It’s just one more reason to never get bored in Panama.

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The island of Taboga, located just 12 miles from Panama City, is a relatively cheap ferry ride away, and the approximate one-hour ride from the Amador Causeway offers some cool views of giant ships waiting to enter the Panama Canal (be sure to arrive at least an hour ahead of the 8:30am Barcos Calypso Taboga ferry departure time, as lines can be long at the Isla Naos dock). Ferry boats arrive at the open-air dock at the tiny island town of San Pedro. We had a so-so breakfast before heading to the rather crowded Playa Restinga, where we rented beach chairs and an umbrella for the day. Families with kids made it obvious this is a popular choice on weekends and holidays, and beach vendors sell food from stands near the sand.

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I had had enough sun already, so we decided to have lunch at Hotel Vereda Tropical, a cute, small hotel up a hill in town, which offers stunning views of the small bay and the Pacific waters in the distance. The pizza was tasty and the view even better.

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Isla Taboga also has hiking trails that lead up to the hills, but the extreme heat and the fact that I’d already gotten too much sun made me force my friend to join me back on the dock to take an early ferry back. My advice: Avoid Taboga on holidays and weekends if you don’t like crowds, and if you prefer wider expanses, consider renting a car and going to the Pacific coast (read my review of the JW Marriott Panama resort here), or splurging on the longer boat (or short plane) ride to Isla Contadora, an even more beautiful Pacific Island. But for a fast-and-easy beach fix on a lovely Pacific island near Panama City, you can’t beat Isla Taboga.

WHERE I STAYED: You can stay overnight at one of the small hotels on Isla Taboga, but since it’s an easy day trip, I stayed at the new Hampton by Hilton Panama, which offers good prices, a great location and lots of amenities. Read my review of the Hampton by Hilton Panama here.

HOW I GOT THERE: I flew Delta Air Lines nonstop to Panama City from Atlanta (and I loved the first-class service). Read my review of the Delta Air Lines flight here.

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About the Author

The founder and editor of, Mark has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and manager. He's worked with some of the biggest consumer, in-flight and travel trade publishers that cover Latin America.

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