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Roads to Bocas del Toro

Saint Louis...
6 posts
1 review
Roads to Bocas del Toro

Can someone please tell me what the road situation is like between Aguadulce and Bocas del Toro? I can rent a car rather inexpensively and will be taking my three girls this summer. We have friends in Panama who are going with us in their car and are very concerned that four women shouldn't be driving back alone from Bocas del Toro to Aguadulce. They will be leaving a day early. Are their concerns valid? Thank you!

Panama City, Panama
Level Contributor
2,017 posts
27 reviews
1. Re: Roads to Bocas del Toro

What are the concerns exactly? Panama's roads are safe, the only problem you'll find is people using the left lane to drive slowly instead of overtaking, and cops issuing speeding tickets.

There's no hijacking or anything like that.

Saint Louis...
6 posts
1 review
2. Re: Roads to Bocas del Toro

Thank you for your response. I'm particularly interested in the road between Bocas del Toro and I guess David. We are following our Panamanian friends there, but we are staying an additional day and will be driving back to their house by ourselves. Four American females, ages 48, 21, 19, and 7. I wonder if it is more of a cultural thing as our "hosts" to have the man accompany us. They seem most concerned about the stretch of road that goes to Bocas del Toro that it might be dangerous. They feel like it is a jungle road. Any advice there?

Panama City, Panama
Level Contributor
2,017 posts
27 reviews
3. Re: Roads to Bocas del Toro

I honestly don't understand what their concern is. It's as if they don't feel women are capable drivers or something like that, which wouldn't surprise me, given that there still quite a sexist attitude in Panama that often rubs me the wrong way.

As you long as you drive carefully, it shouldn't be a problem.

Maybe you're planning to drive back during the night? That road might be difficult to do during the evening, if that's their concern, then it might be valid, but you can just drive during daylight.

Edited: 17 March 2015, 16:57
Saint Louis...
6 posts
1 review
4. Re: Roads to Bocas del Toro

Thanks, that is what I was wondering too. We are leaving at the hotel checkout around 11:00 and will be able to drive during the day. I was getting a little freaked out that j should expect disaster. My husband is perfectly fine with us doing that. We have befriended a number of Panamanian students who have come to the US, so we aren't stuck in the country alone.

Atlanta, Georgia...
Destination Expert
for Colon, Isla Grande, Portobelo
Level Contributor
5,992 posts
24 reviews
5. Re: Roads to Bocas del Toro

Sorry to butt in on the conversation, but I just saw something that raised the caution flag. You're checking out of WHERE at 11:00AM and planning to drive to WHERE?

I've driven between Panama City and Bocas del Toro. And, between Boca Chica and David and Bocas del Toro. I can certainly understand why someone would be cautious about that route. If you run into any kind of trouble -- flat tire or whatever -- there are very few places along that route where you can get help. Are any of you fluent in Spanish? In that area, finding someone who understands English is rare. The route is very scenic, but when the fog hits, it's also very treacherous. Going through the mountains, the road is a series of switchbacks on both sides. Panamanian drivers like to take the inside lane -- no matter which side of the road it is. I don't mean to be a doom sayer, but having been there, having faced crazy Panamanian drivers in the mountains, I can understand your friends' concern.

Now ... along the Autopista between David and Aguadulce ... that's another story. Where did you say you are planning to leave at 11?

Saint Louis...
6 posts
1 review
6. Re: Roads to Bocas del Toro

No butting in at all:) We will check out of our hotel in Bocas town in the morning and head back to our friend's house in Aguadulce. My two older girls can speak enough Spanish between the two of them, and Portuguese for one of them.

I will be familiar with the road because we would have followed our friends to Boxas del Toro to get there. If I feel anything to be remotely sketchy, we'll follow them back and not stay the extra day.

Panama City, Panama
Level Contributor
2,017 posts
27 reviews
7. Re: Roads to Bocas del Toro

Oh, I see what gb_williams means.

The road between David and Santiago is currently being repaired and a two more lanes are being constructed. It's a somewhat mountainous road so if you end up driving it during the evening, it might be a bit dangerous if you're not used to it, mostly because of the work being done. Some parts of it have no shoulder, I think.

I have driven it during the evening and I haven't had any issues. Your idea sounds reasonable. Since you'll see that road when driving in, you'll have a better idea of whether you feel comfortable doing that on the way back or not. If you're leaving Colon Island at 11:00, it's likely that some part of this road will be dark once you hit it, but I think it's likely going to be the one that isn't in worst shape.

8. Re: Roads to Bocas del Toro

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