Tico-Panama: A “Piece of Panama” Vacation Itinerary

Talamanca Mountains, Cahuita, Bocas del Toro & Isla Bastimentos

The Tico Panama Adventure & Nature itinerary is a multi-country adventure tour that explores some unique destinations along Central America’s Caribbean Coast. Adventure & Nature Seekers that choose this trip will have the chance to raft through the mountainous jungle on an intense, white-water adventure en route to the gorgeous and laid-back beaches of the Caribbean Coast of Southern Costa Rica & Northern Panama.

Family playing in waves on beach at Bocos Del Toro, Panama

Your Costa Rica nature adventure begins in the Talamanca Mountains in the shadow of the most active volcano in Costa Rica. En route from SJO, you will witness the gigantic sugarcane plantations, the artistically cultivated coffee fields, and the world-class, white-water rapids. After spending a few days in this area, known for its rich Costa Rican culture, you will venture to the Caribbean Coast and the quiet town of Cahuita. This area of the country has a beautiful National Park and offers secluded, white & black sand beaches with crystal-blue water and a laid-back vibe.

You will explore the nearby national park that is teeming with wildlife. At night, you will be surrounded by calypso and reggae music. Your Costa Rica Caribbean Adventure will take you further south. You will cross the Panama border with local Costa Rica guide, get in a boat which will take you to the group of islands called Bocas del Toro in Panama. You will spend your final days on the island of Isla Bastimentos. This island offers great jungle hiking and incredible snorkeling and scuba diving. As you wind down your Caribbean adventure, you will return to SJO via a 45-minute, in-country flight from Bocas del Toro, just in time to catch your flight back home.

Woman walking beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Tico-Panama Vacation Itinerary Highlights & Facts

  • Pacuare River White – water Rafting through an Indigenous Biological Reserve– The Pacuare River is a top-5, world-renowned, white-water rafting river. With breath-taking canyon vistas and adrenaline-pumping rapids, you’ll see what all of the commotions are about!
  • Bocas del Toro Archipelago – It is difficult to express in words what one feels when you visit this section of the world. Few places around the world keep this particular atmosphere, seductive, primitive and unforgettable. Bocas del Toro captivates its visitors because of its amazing vegetation, its biodiversity, and its colorful underwater coral reef playground: it is a real biological fantasy.
  • Central America’s Caribbean Coast – The often-overlooked coastal stretch of small multi-color sand beaches is one of the most beautiful areas in the world, rich with culture populated by a blend of Ticos, Panamanians, Afro-Caribbeans, indigenous, and foreigners from all over.

Typical 9-day Tico Panama Adventure Itinerary

Day #1: Arrival & transfer to the mountain town of Turrialba

As you arrive at Costa Rica’s San Jose Airport (SJO), a modern, well-equipped, air-conditioned vehicle will be waiting to greet you along with your dedicated driver. (S)He will welcome you with a sign with your name on it. You take a beautiful, two-hour drive east to your hotel in Turrialba. En route you can stop for lunch at one of the restaurants with incredible views. On your drive, you will pass through a primarily agricultural, region of the Talamanca Mountains. That night, you can settle into your boutique property to rest and relax for your week of adventures.

turrialba costa rica
The beautiful Turrialba valley

Day #2: Canyoning & Zip-line Tour with Time to Explore Turrialba

The Tico-Panama Adventure itinerary includes breakfast every morning at your hotel. Take in the majestic views of as you dine on gallo pinto and fresh, tropical fruit. Today you will have your first of numerous adventures. Canyoning is a fun adventure sport that uses ropes to rappel a series of waterfalls located within a small canyon in the mountains. This morning you will rappel and zip-line through the treetops on this great combination jungle tour. The tour concludes with a traditional lunch in the rainforest at the adventure base. The afternoon is free to explore Turrialba. You can also return to your hotel to rest.

Costa Rica zip line.

Day #3: Pacuare River Rafting & Transfer to Cahuita

Today’s unforgettable excursion takes adventurers deep into the rainforest to experience an unspoiled and beautiful white-water section of the Pacuare River. Your trained and professional river guides will lead you safely down the river. You will stop along the way for a riverside picnic lunch. Considered as one of the top 5 most-scenic rivers in the world, the Pacuare River will live up to its reputation. The Indigenous Biological Reserve where it is located is home to some of the most scenic river vistas you will see. The lower section of the river has the more intense and thrilling class III & IV rapids. Along the way, witness waterfalls drop into the river from high above. You will also float through a beautiful canyon called “Dos Montañas”. The rafting takes about 5+ hours and has a few side hikes and excursions along the way. A vehicle with your luggage will be waiting for you after the river trip. You will have changing rooms and a place to rinse off before your journey to the southern Caribbean Coast.

Pacuare River Rafting | Planning a Trip to Costa Rica

Day #4: Day at Leisure or Guided Hike in Cahuita National Park

Home to some of the most pristine and hike-able beaches in Costa Rica, it is amazing that the southern Caribbean coast is still a secret in the travel world. After your day of extreme white-water, the Caribbean’s laid-back lifestyle, international cuisine, and reggae music are just what you need to unwind! Today there are no formal activities planned. Should you desire some more action, these Caribbean beaches are great to learn to surf. Cahuita is home to a wonderful National Park where you are sure to see sloths, monkeys, toucans, and other wildlife. We can coordinate an actual tour for you or you can visit this park on your own. The hiking in this coastal beach and jungle park is very flat and a great day-trip. In the evenings we suggest exploring the town of Cahuita and some if it’s delicious, internationally or the Caribbean-themed restaurants.

Cahuita National Park Toucan
See sloths, monkeys and of course Toucans at Cahuita National Park

Day #5: Day at Leisure or Optional Activity

Take this day to do another one of Costa Rica Escapes’ optional activities, or… nothing at all! We understand that when traveling actively, it is best to have a down day or two to relax and enjoy your surroundings. Aside from the obvious activities of hiking on the beach or relaxing at the pool, you can take surfing lessons or rent a beach cruiser to tour the private and remote beaches in the area – we’ll fill you in on our recommendations. This evening should be spent out having a nice dinner at one of the many restaurants in the area.

Day #6: Transfer to Bocas del Toro, Panama

After an early breakfast this morning, your host will pick you up at your hotel in Cahuita and escort you south to the border town of Sixaola. Here you will be taken through the border crossing process and taken to a private vehicle on the other side of the Costa Rican border. You will be driven about an hour south to a dock where you will catch a boat that will take you to Bocas del Toro. You will check in at the office where you arrive and board another boat which will take you on a quick 20-minute ride to the neighboring island of Isla Basimentos where you will remain for the next few days. You will check into your bungalow or private villa and have the rest of the afternoon to explore the deserted beaches and jungle trails on this large & most uninhabited island. The boutique resort where you are staying has two restaurants, an adventure center and various beaches close by. There is no grocery store; however, you can pre-order grocery service.

Huts on water in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Day #7: Snorkel on the reef and explore the islands on a Catamaran Sailing Tour

Take this day to explore the underwater treasures that surround the Bocas del Toro archipelago. After breakfast, you will board a catamaran and take to the seas on a sailing and snorkeling adventure. You are sure to see dolphins along the way as you gently glide across the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. You will stop along to way to take a refreshing dip in the water and do a little snorkeling on the reef system that lives underneath. You will be served lunch and be returned to your hotel this afternoon to relax and soak in the sunset before falling asleep this night.

Snorkeling in Bocas del Toro
Go deep down under in Bocas del Toro and snorkel for as long as you can hold your air

Day #8: Day at Leisure in Bocas

Take this final full day to let it all soak in. You will have today to enjoy some final time on the beach. There is an extensive jungle trail system that is easy to explore on Isla Bastimentos. You can explore these trails while checking out the different beaches. The offshore snorkeling is some of the best in the world and very easy to do. We always recommend packing up a backpack and heading out this day to see as much of the island as possible. If you are looking for wildlife, we can hire a naturalist hiking guide to accompany you this day to ensure that you see things you wouldn’t normally notice. This is the best way to take full advantage of your time in this magnificent part of the world.

Family in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Day #9: Flight from Bocas del Toro to SJO and back home

Today you will catch a boat & van to the Bocas airport. Your flight will leave this morning in plenty of time to get you back to SJO to catch your flight back home. Costa Rica Escapes will handle all of the arrangements to make sure you are at the airport with enough time for your flight home.

Things to Know About the Tico-Panama Vacation Itinerary

  • The use of San Jose (SJO) Airport is strongly encouraged for this itinerary
  • An Overnight Rafting Trip can be substituted for the 1-day rafting trip
  • There are very limited Premier Accommodations on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica; therefore, all Premier pricing on the Caribbean Coast of Costa RIca is based on upgraded rooms in Casual properties
  • The town of Puerto Viejo can be substituted for Cahuita, if travelers are seeking a more active and lively experience on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica.
  • Premier & Casual properties exist on Isla Bastimentos in Bocas del Toro.

Costs for Tico Panama Adventure Itinerary

Pricing for the Tico Panama Adventure Itinerary is customized and formulated upon request. Premier, Casual and Upgrade accommodation options are available for this itinerary and will be formulated after an initial phone call.

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Due to this itinerary’s high level of customization, please contact us for pricing.

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  • Please tell us how we can help you plan a trip to Costa Rica. Our trips start at $1,725 per adult, which includes your lodging, in-country transportation, and many of your activities and meals.
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