Panama has a whole host of beautiful hostels to stay in, but knowing which ones are best for you, can be difficult. To save you the trouble of sifting through hostel review sites, I’ve picked my top 5 hostels to stay in Panama right now.
Having travelled for two weeks, spending a few days at each hostel, I was able to get a good idea of what makes each of these hostels fantastic value and will allow you to make the most of your trip. Having also travelled extensively over the last 10 years, I like to think I have a pretty good idea of what set’s a great hostel apart, from a mere adequate bed for the night.
TOP 5 HOSTELS IN PANAMA
1. BAMBUDA LODGE
Bambuda Lodge is rated an extremely high 9.3 on Hostel World! The hostel has a massive fresh water pool and 150 ft waterslide straight from the bar to the ocean. Although not in the central part of Bocas Del Toro, it’s only 5 minutes from town.
Bambuda Lodge is perfect for meeting new friends, listening to live music and has a chilled out atmosphere. There is a coral reef for snorkeling and acres of lush jungle for exploring. Not only that, you won’t have to travel far for great food and a nice cold drink for chilling by the pool.
On-site they also offer kayaks, canoes and paddle boards, a games room with ping-pong, darts and board games, and a travel desk.
This hostel is great for meeting new friends, relaxing in the sun and exploring the rugged terrain.
Price – a 6 bed dorm will set you back around $20 per person per night. Or alternatively, why not splash out on one of their private rooms, they are simply gorgeous.
Book your bed here.
2. SELINA – BOCAS DEL TORO
Selina Bocas Del Toro, is easy to reach as soon as you get off the plane or arrive by bus. With it’s bright colour facade, you can’t miss it. Selina’s has a whole heap of events that will keep you busy, but this can also be a place to slow down and soak up the Caribbean vibes.
If you want to be in the centre of town, on the water and your’re looking for hostel that has a party vibe, then this is the place for you. I really enjoyed my stay, and spent 5 nights here in the end, extending my stay by a night. This may have also been because I drank one too many cervezas the night before, maybe. Bocas town has plenty of bars to carry on the party until the early hours of the morning, but if you don’t feel like venturing out, Selina also has a bar on-site.
Spend the day making new friends sitting by the water, and then meet back in the bar in the evening for happy hour and fish tacos.
They have a tour desk on-site, where you can book to go island hopping, hire a paddle board, book to go diving and rent surfing equipment at Selina Surf Club.
Prices start at around $29 for a bed in the 12 bed dorm. To find out more, head to the Selina website here.
3. SELINA – RED FROG
Had enough of Bocas town? Head to their sister hostel Selina – Red Frog for some R&R. Located just a short water-taxi ride away, this remote and beautiful hostel is just what you need to rejuvenate after lapping up the party scene in Bocas Town.
Although there are limited food options near this hostel, the menu on-site is perfectly adequate with plenty of options to choose from. They also have a bar where you can grab a cocktail and sit by the cute plunge pool to soak up the sun.
Just a ten minute walk from the hostel, through the rainforest is the stunning red frog beach. You can even try and spot wildlife on the stroll to the beach. You can occasionally glimpse sloths perched in the trees, but unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky.
They also offer CoWork space for anyone looking for a chilled out spot to get their head down. With co-working packages for a day, week, or longer, they offer everything you need to stay on track despite the island’s many distractions.
Prices for a dorm start at around $16 per person per night. They also have beautiful private rooms available, if you’re looking to add a bit of luxury to your trip. For more information on Selina Red Frog, head to their site here.
4. LUNAS CASTLE
The hostel to stay at if you’re heading to Panama City. Luna’s Castle came highly recommended and they didn’t let me down. This was my first stop in Panama and upon arrival grabbed myself a $1 beer from the fridge in reception. Great start!
Luna’s Castle has a terrace area to hang out, drink a few bevvies and meet new friends. The social scene at the hostel doesn’t stop there, they also have a bar downstairs called Relic Bar.
Open Tuesday night through Saturday night – 8:30pm till Late. Don’t miss their happy hour for hostel guests, between 9pm-10pm, $.50 beers and $1 mixed drinks. This is where the party begins.
Luna’s Castle, is a colonial mansion built in 1905, and rests upon the original city wall. The hostel is based in Casco Viejo, the historic heart of Panama City. Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998, Casco Viejo is the oldest city on the Pacific coast of the Americas.
This is a great hostel for exploring the city due to its fantastic location and provides a great jumping off point for tours to the San Blas Islands.
Prices start at $16 per bed per night. For more information check the Luna’s Castle site here.
5. BAMBUDA CASTLE
Bambuda Castle is a wonderful place to unwind and take in nature at its best. This hostel completed my trip to Panama. It’s set in the most beautiful surroundings, just outside of Boquete Town and far away from the hustle and bustle.
Bambuda Castle is one of the best hostels, if not the best hostel I have ever stayed at. The hostel was also voted Best Hostel in Panama for 2018 and Best Choice Hostel in Boquete – by Hostel World.
It has a restaurant on site, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner at set times, allowing for a lovely atmosphere, especially in the evening.
The best thing about Bambuda Castle is the atmosphere and sense of well-being. They have an indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, sun loungers, a climbing wall, TV room, patio, terrace and garden.
If you’re feeling adventurous, they can also book a whole host of Boquete activities for you, right from reception. Want to find out more? Read more about exploring Panama here.
Bambuda Castle has a number of dorm rooms, but I opted for a private for the last few days of my trip. I stayed two nights, but wish I’d stayed longer. I was gutted to leave and would highly recommend adding this hostel and Boquete to your trip, if it’s not in your plans already.
Prices start at around $16 a night per bed, and the private bungalows are around $94 (well worth the money). Find out more about this amazing hostel here.