Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
NileGuide Expert tip:
Bad Monkey Books 'n Tours is located at Caribeans coffee shop near the bus stop in Puerto Viejo.
Going to Bocas del Toro, Panama, is a fun excursion from Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. You can do it on the cheap and take the public bus, but many choose the popular option of a private shuttle, which covers all the bases between your hotel in Puerto Viejo and the main island in Bocas fel Toro, Isla Colon. The total trip duration is about 3 hours. It takes an hour and a half to get to the border town of Sixaola, then the lines through immigration and customs and the crossing of the bridge over the Panama Canal. The crossing is an adventure in itself, since the bridge is visibly dilapidated and pedestrians face off with huge semi-trucks over gaping holes in the rusted metal. From there, the descent into Changuinola is not a pretty one-this is a dingy border town, with few tourists services save for a Chinese Restaurant where you can change your colones into US dollars- the only currency accepted in Panama. It's another 30 minutes to the water's edge, when the most picturesque leg of the journey begins. Small boats set off from the dock and glide through lush green Caribbean lowlands, then speed up to cross the open water to Isla Colon, the largest of the three little islands and where the majority of hotels and services are housed. The shuttle costs $32 per person each way, and includes hotel pick-up at 7am and all transportation to Bocas del Toro, Panama. Round trip is $60 per person.