Traveller Tips

the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Juan Valdes

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Traveller Tips: Bocas del Toro, Panama

Climate & Weather:

Bocas del Toro has a tropical rainforest climate, which means you can expect consistent temperatures, ranging from a cool average of 21ºC to a warm average of 31ºC (71ºF and 88ºF respectively). Bocas tends to stay driest from August to October, and February to April. However with changes to the global climate as well as other cyclic natural phenomena, such as La Niña and El Niño, it is becoming harder to predict wet and dry periods from year to year. That being said, rain often occurs at night allowing visitors to enjoy the rainforest during the day.

Getting there and back:

By Air

You can fly into Bocas del Toro (BOC) using airlines operating out of the U.S.:

  • Continental – flights from Houston (IAH)
  • Delta – flights from Atlanta (ATL)
  • American Airlines – flights from Miami (MIA) and Dallas (DFW)
  • Spirit Airlines – flights from Miami (MIA)

If you are flying from within the region there are several stopover locations within Panama or from San José, Costa Rica:

  • Air Panama, Aeroperlas & NatureAir – flights from San José, Costa Rica (SJO)

Flight schedules change depending on the time of year, so be sure to check the airline websites directly. Once you have worked out the details of your flight, you may also want to consider buying a carbon offset for your trip!

By Land

There is also the option to take a bus out of either David or Panama City to Almirante, and then a boat or ferry to Bocas del Toro.

Currency and Withdrawing Cash:

Currencies taken in Bocas del Toro will either be the U.S. dollar (USD), which is the official currency of Panama, or the Balboa, which is tied to the USD (1 Balboa = 1USD). There are no Balboa bills, only coins.

There are ATM machines at Banco National, two blocks from the airport. Cash may be the best bet at restaurants and shops on the island, as few take credit cards and traveler’s checks can only be redeemed at Banco National. Be sure to notify your home banking institution that you will be traveling before you attempt a transaction.

Don't Leave Home Without...

  • A lightweight raincoat and other raingear
  • Bug spray: Keep non-toxic, environmentally safe brands in mind - for your health and for the health of the local Bocas del Toro critters!
  • Dive certification card: Dive and snorkel gear are available for rent around the island, so be sure to bring your card if you have one.
  • Clothing and other donation supplies: Many local schools and organizations will be happy to accept these donations, and this will also stake out some real estate in your bag for souvenirs on the way back!

Valid Passport: Also remember to keep a photocopy of your passport with you at all times.

Voltage converter: For those traveling from outside the United States, Bocas del Toro uses the same electric voltage as the U.S.: AC (60Hz), 120/240 volts.

Red headlamp: For turtle enthusiasts, red lights will not disturb sea turtles so you can view them at night!

Traveller Tips: Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

Climate & Weather:

Roatan has a tropical climate, with comfortable temperatures year-round – ranging from a cool average of 25ºC to a peak average of 31ºC (77ºF and 88ºF, respectively). You can also expect it to be humid year-round, although the trade winds provide a cool breeze.

The dry season runs from April to mid/late-July. Don’t forget your sunglasses and some cool clothing because this is the sunniest and warmest time of the year. A lighter breeze makes for calmer waters, so cool off in the water and enjoy some snorkeling or scuba diving around the famous Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

The rainy season in Roatan runs first from mid/late July through early September, followed by a brief dry spell through October, and then picks up again from October through February. However, you need not be discouraged from booking a trip around this time of year, as the occasional rain cools things off and leaves blocks of comfortable, sunny weather in between. That being said if you book during the peak rainy season, from mid-January through the end of February, you may want to bring a light windbreaker and some rain gear.

Getting there and back:

By Air:

There are several airlines that offer direct flights out of U.S. cities to Roatan's Juan Ramón Galvez International Airport (RTB):

  • Continental - direct flights out of Houston (IAH) on Saturday and Sunday
  • Delta - direct flights out of Atlanta (ATL) on Saturday
  • TACA - direct flights out of Houston (IAH), Miami (MIA) and San Francisco (SFO) on Saturday and/or Sunday

There are many more options for airlines that stop over in San Pedro Sula (SAP), La Ceiba (LCE) or Tegucigalpa (TGU), Honduras, or San Salvador (SAL), El Salvador. Note that these are all mainland airports and you will need to either fly to Roatan (RTB) or take a bus and then water taxi.  

Flight schedules change depending on the time of year, so be sure to check the airline websites directly. It is also important to remember that as of January 2012 the Honduran airport departure tax is $38 (USD). Once you have worked out the details of your flight, you may also want to consider buying a carbon offset for your trip!

Currency and Withdrawing Cash:

The local currency is the Lempira, however U.S. currency is just as common and widely accepted on the island. At the time of this posting the conversion rate was approximately 18 Lempira to 1 US$ (to see an up-to-date conversion rate try this link www.google.com/finance/converter).

Roatan's ATMs may not always be reliable, and although there is an option for some to disperse US$ they only distribute in Lempira. Many ATMs will not take foreign cards and also restrict the amount you can withdraw (a 5,000 Lempira maximum). Be sure to notify your home banking institution that you will be traveling before you attempt a transaction. Restaurants and shops do not commonly take traveler’s checks, so it is usually recommended to bring U.S. dollars in small bills if possible.

Don't Leave Home Without...

  • Bug spray: Sand fleas, or “no-see-ums”, are common year round so be sure bring protection against these pesky guys. Plan ahead to find a brand that is sure work against sand fleas, and keep non-toxic, environmentally safe brands in mind - for your health and for the health of the local Roatan critters!  A very popular and effective brand that is also non-toxic is the “Cactus Juice Eco Spray”.
  • Dive certification card: Dive and snorkel gear are available for rent around the island, so be sure to bring your card if you have one.
  • Clothing and other donation supplies: Many local schools and organizations will be happy to accept these donations, and this will also stake out some real estate in your bag for souvenirs on the way back!

 Valid Passport: Also remember to keep a photocopy of your passport with you at all times.

Voltage converter: For those traveling from outside the United States, Roatan uses the same electric voltage as the U.S.: AC (60Hz), 120/240 volts.

Red headlamp: For turtle enthusiasts, red lights will not disturb sea turtles so you can view them at night!




 

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