Prepping for Our Pacific Crossing

We have a big trip ahead of us from Panama to French Polynesia (FP). The sail of over 3000 miles will take us around a month. Can I repeat that? Since we’re not going to The Galapagos, our sail will take about a month. Which is why we’ve spent most of our time prepping for our Pacific crossing. We want to do this right.

I had numerous checklists (I am that type) and our preparations fall into a few categories: making Sava ship-shape, getting everything we need for the passage, and mentally readying ourselves for the longest trip of our lives.

We are leaving today, so we’re done prepping for our Pacific crossing. We’ll see in a few weeks what we did right.

Getting Sava Ship-Shape

We’ve been pretty good about keeping Sava up-to-date, including our most recent lithium battery upgrade. But boats are like houses: something always breaks. Before we set sail, we want to make sure everything is in working shape, and that we have backups of our backups. It’s an important part of prepping for our Pacific crossing.

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Wildlife in Panama

The wildlife in Panama is amazing. In our travels around the country, we saw many monkeys, slews of sloths, and a lot of birds and marine life. Saw? We got close to lots of cool animals. Here’s what we saw and where we saw them.

Monkeys Everywhere

We saw – and heard – monkeys all over the Caribbean side of Panama. Even in populated areas, we communed with monkeys, like in Bocas del Toro when the howlers were hanging in the trees right next to the road.

Howler Monkeys hanging together in Bocas del Toro Panama
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Transiting The Panama Canal By Sailboat

The Panama Canal, called “the path between the seas,” is the easiest route from the Caribbean to the Pacific. Completed over 100 years ago, it is a man-made marvel of engineering. Transiting the Panama Canal by sailboat is a bucket-list activity for those trying to circumnavigate, or get between oceans.

The land divided, the world united.

Motto of The Panama Canal

Hiring an Agent Versus DIY

It takes a lot of paperwork to get through the canal! We used an agent to alleviate some of the work. As Panama Posse members, we get a discount on the Canal agent. It saved us a lot of time, paperwork, and hassle. While it may be cheaper, if you don’t use an agent, you have to pay everything in cash. This means multiple trips to ATMs, which have very low maximum daily withdrawals. ATMs aren’t easily accessible outside of Panama City.

How Much Does it Cost?

Transiting The Panama Canal on a sailboat isn’t cheap, even for a boat under 65 feet! Here’s a breakdown on current pricing to transit:

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Costa Rica Visa Run From Panama

Before we left Bocas del Toro, we decided to take a brief trip to Costa Rica. We’ve never been to Costa Rica and it’s quite close to Bocas. Also, we have been in Panama for over four months, and don’t want to rush through the rest before our six month visa expires. The plan was to spend three days and nights in a cute Costa Rican beach town, lazing about in a hotel, seeing some sights, and relaxing. It was supposed to be an easy Panama to Costa Rica visa run. Fun? Yes. Easy? Not a chance.

Leaving Panama for Costa Rica
Leaving Panama for Costa Rica

Costa Rica Visa Run Started Off Great!

The trip to Costa Rica from Bocas town on Isla Colon was easy, and faster than we expected. We took two water taxis and two buses, and had escorts who led us to check out of Panama, and across the bridge to check in to Costa Rica. Clearing in was easy and we arrived at our hotel in Puerto Viejo early. We also didn’t realize we’d be in a different time zone, so we were even earlier! Panama – Eastern Time Zone; Costa Rica – Central.

We had heard many good things about Costa Rica. Pura Vida. And, despite a few big issues, we liked Costa Rica.

Fun Fact! Costa Rica was the last country in Central America I hadn’t visited. Although one night in El Salvador hardly counts.

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Bocas del Toro Favorites

We spent longer than expected in Panama’s Bocas del Toro archipelago, mostly because of the community and activities. Also because we waited to get new lithium batteries. In all we stayed in Bocas for three months because there’s a lot to enjoy, so here are our Bocas del Toro favorites.


With a lot of different islands in the Bocas, there are also a lot of beaches. Not 365 beaches like in Antigua, but a good assortment with options for all different beach goals. There are more remote beaches with fewer people, like Wizard Beach on Bastimentos, busy party beaches like at Red Frog, lots of surfer beaches across the islands, and Starfish has a whole row of beach bars. Bocas del Toro will satisfy anyone’s beach day requirements.

Bocas Drago Beach Panama
Bocas Drago Beach, Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro
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