Taboga Island floats around 20km off Panama City, making it a fabulous day trip. Home to epic hiking, beautiful beaches and colourful colonial buildings, this volcanic island offers a breath of fresh air, away from the hustle of the capital.
If Taboga Island is on your Panama itinerary, crack open a Balboa and get reading! This guide to visiting Taboga Island will tell you everything you need to know, from the best things to do, where to stay and, of course, how to get there.
Read more: (opens in new tab)
Taboga Island (Isla Taboga), Panama – Guide for Travellers
This post contains affiliate links. If you use them, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Best Time to Visit Isla Taboga
Taboga Island benefits from a tropical climate year-round. January to April is the peak tourist season in Taboga because the days tend to be dry and sunny. While the weather will be on your side if you visit during these months, you may struggle if you don’t like crowds.
May to November is the rainy season so if you’re looking for lazy beach days, it is best to avoid Taboga Island during these months. If you decide to visit anyway, make sure you pack a rain jacket!
Weekdays are better to visit than weekends because the locals head to the island on Saturdays and Sundays, meaning that restaurants and accommodation fills up quickly. The island is also much more busy at all of its top attractions.
Time your visit with the 16th of July for a cultural experience! Every year, a festival is held in honour of the island’s patron saint, the Virgen del Carmen. Celebrations revolve around Playa Honda and begin with a seafaring procession before finishing with a party on the beach!
Top Things to Do on Taboga Island, Panama
1. Take a Historical Walking Tour
The best way to familiarise yourself with Taboga Island is to embark on a historical walking tour. The town centre is very small so this activity tends to take between 45 minutes and an hour. During the tour, you will quickly see why Isla Taboga is nicknamed the ‘Island of Flowers’ and also discover a little about its history.
As well as learning about Taboga’s fascinating evolution into the tourist hotspot that you see today, a walking tour also provides an incredible opportunity to take in the views of the picturesque town. Colourful buildings line the streets, and free-roaming chickens crisscross your path. Combine this with the welcoming smiles of the locals and you’ll see why travellers love experiencing the laidback pace of life on Taboga.
If you book your trip to Taboga with the Taboga Express Fast Ferry Company, you can pay a little extra for your ticket to include a historical walking tour with a local guide.
2. Visit St. Peter’s Church
Iglesia San Pedro is the second oldest church in the entirety of the western hemisphere! Most of the historical walking tours will pass by this religious landmark, however, it is well worth making time to see inside as the craftsmanship is beautiful. Although quaint and simple when compared to other churches, this spot has been at the heart of the community for 500 years.
3. Take on the Cerro de la Cruz Hike
Home to one of the top hikes in Panama, the Cerro de la Cruz trek is a must-do for visitors to Isla Taboga. Looming 300 metres over the town of Taboga, the summit is marked by a large cross and offers some of the very best views of the island.
The hike is moderate in difficulty, made challenging by the hot and humid weather that Taboga Island is most famous for. Make sure to wear appropriate walking shoes and keep an eye out for snakes on the trail – they are regularly sighted on this route.
If you’ve already ticked Cerro de la Cruz off your Taboga bucket list, check out the Cerro Vigía trail next. There are great views from the top of the bunker. For more details and offline route maps, check out AllTrails.
4. Laze on the Beaches
There are a number of pretty beaches on Taboga Island, including Playa Honda, Playa Diabo and Playa Restinga. While the latter gets the busiest, it also links Taboga to Isla el Morro via a sandbar that is only accessible during low tide.
To get the most out of your beach day on Taboga Island, remember your towel and suncream and pick up a fresh coconut from one of the local vendors. It makes for the perfect day lazing on the sand!
5. Go Whale Watching
From July to October, humpback whales migrate to the coast of Panama for the breeding season. As such, there are loads of tours during these months which take tourists out to see these breathtaking creatures in all their glory. Tours cost from $65USD per person from Taboga and it’s also possible to book online in advance.
Whale watching tours to the Pearl Islands with Taboga Express Fast Ferry also leave from Panama City but are much more expensive, costing around $160USD per person.
Also read: Amazing animals in Panama.
6. Explore the Gastronomy
The food in Panama is a melting pot of flavours. Priding itself on the use of locally sourced ingredients, you can expect to find lots of fresh seafood on the menus of Taboga Island. The best place to eat on the island is Calaloo Beach Fish Bar. Don’t miss the fried fish with patacones for a traditional Panamanian coastal dish!
7. Go Scuba Diving or Snorkelling
Taboga Island is home to clear waters which makes snorkelling and diving popular activities. During my visit to Taboga, I didn’t see anybody renting snorkels or dive equipment to tourists.
While snorkel and dive tours exist (I know Taboga Tour Center sell some), they need to be booked in advance. Make sure you plan well ahead to avoid disappointment!
8. Snap a Photo With the Taboga Sign
After all, did you even go to Taboga if you didn’t get a photo with its iconic, brightly coloured sign?!
How to Get to Taboga Island
Getting to Taboga Island Independently
Most people who visit Taboga Island do so independently, on board one of the ferries that depart from the end of the Amador Causeway.
Most people will travel with Taboga Express Fast Ferry and the journey takes just half an hour. Book a ticket in advance on their website and remember that you will need to present your ID once you arrive at the ticket office.
Four ferries depart both Panama City and Taboga daily, with an extra service provided on weekends. Check out their website for up-to-date timetables and prices. A round-trip ticket costs approx. $24USD per person and with a historical walking tour included, tickets cost approx. $30USD.
Before visiting Taboga Island myself, I read that Barcos Calypso also services the route. However, I could find no way to book with them. I am not sure if the company is still active or whether they only offer private charters now.
Taboga Island Tours
The easiest and most convenient way to visit Taboga Island is to do so as part of a tour. These tours usually include pick-up and drop-off from your accommodation in Panama City, return transport, lunch and a walking tour. To make your trip one to remember, why not splurge on a catamaran trip?!
Where to Stay on Taboga Island
When it comes to budget-friendly places to stay on Taboga Island, there are not many options available through mainstream platforms. You may have some luck searching on Airbnb but in general, accommodation here is likely to be more expensive than you are used to in other areas of Panama.
One of the most highly rated accommodation options on the island, Taboga Palace is the place to go if you are looking for luxury. With an on-site bar and swimming pool, it is the perfect spot for cooling off on a hot day. A range of rooms are available and all are clean and comfortable. Top tip! Make sure to book a room with an ocean view – it’ll make your trip one to remember!
For a slightly more down-to-earth feel without compromising on comfort, check out the Cerrito Tropical Eco Lodge. This bright and colourful lodge offers a range of rooms and also suite options. All rooms are spacious and airy and the hammocks strung up on the balconies make this place the perfect accommodation for any beach escape.
Have you visited Panama’s Isla Taboga yet? Let us know what you got up to in the comments!