Bocas Del Toro, PanamaCredit: J Cook

If you’ve wanted to travel to a tropical paradise but feel like you cannot afford it, you’re not alone.  Many people think that the ideal vacation has to cost a limb or first born child but they are wrong.  With these five tips you can plan a trip to Bocas del Toro, Panama without breaking the bank. It’s time for you to take that vacation to paradise that you’ve been dreaming of for years.

1. Travel during the low season! In Bocas Del Toro the high season lasts from the middle or end of November until the end of January.  For the cheapest prices go in off season, between April and October, when prices are the absolute cheapest.

2. Take a bus instead of flying. To save a night of accommodation and cut transportation costs from Panama City to Bocas, take the overnight bus for around $30 rather than flying into Bocas Del Toro (approximately $130). Note: Wear as many layers as you have, the buses tend to have the air conditioning on high for the entire trip and it can get pretty cold.

3. Staying off of the main island will definitely give you more bang for your buck.  When looking for places to stay in Bocas Del Toro consider options other than standard hotels on Isla Colon.  Try searching on AirBnB for great, unique, personal experiences including B&Bs, guesthouses and condos on the surrounding islands.   All of the islands offer the same activities and boast magnificent views.

Red Frog BeachCredit: J Cook

4. Skip the middle man tour salesman and book your tours and water activities directly with boat owners.  You will frequently see people docking their boats or leaving with a group to head out on a day tour.  Simply inquire on their schedule and rate and you have successfully booked your own tour! Choose a boat that will take you out for an entire day, provide lunch and give you several options of water activities such as fishing, snorkeling, dolphin watching and/or surfing.5. Stay away from the tourist beaches and avoid the tourist fees. You will quickly learn of the most popular beaches from your host as well as the many overzealous tour salesmen.  Do yourself a favor and skip out on the entrance fees and tourists alike by going to a secluded beach.  Instead of paying $10 for a round-trip boat ride to the popular Red Frog beach only to pay a $5 entrance fee, go to Wizard Beach on the same island for free.  You will still take a boat to the island of Bastimentos, but instead of going to Red Frog (which is further) you will get dropped off in Old Bank instead for $6 round-trip.

The next time you’re daydreaming about finally taking that vacation that you deserve, stop staring at your screensaver and start planning a trip to Bocas Del Toro, Panama using these 5 tips.  You can experience paradise whenever you’re ready and you can even keep your limbs and children.

Lonely Planet Panama (Travel Guide)
Amazon Price: $24.99 $12.64 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 5, 2016)
Use this book for more in depth information while traveling. Make sure to take it with you for on-the-go learning.