A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers San Juan del Sur vs. Bocas del Toro for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit San Juan del Sur or Bocas del Toro?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the prices of travel for San Juan del Sur and Bocas del Toro. We’ll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget. So, let's dig into it.

San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur is a popular port destination on the Pacific coast of southwest Nicaragua. The town was once a quaint fishing village but has grown into a tourist town with activities for visitors that include surfing, fishing, and, of course, partying. The town has a population of just over 15,000, most of whom are either fishermen or involved in the tourism industry. There is also a large expat community from the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Bocas del Toro

The capital of the Bocas del Toro province, this city of the same name sits in the Caribbean West region of Panama. Bocas del Toro, or Bocas Town, is in the district of Bocas del Toro, which also includes the towns of Bastimentos, Cauchero, Punta Laurel, and Tierra Oscura. The district has a population of about 17,000 and covers a total area of 433.2 square kilometers, and the town has a population of about 13,000. The area is a tourist destination for its beautiful beaches, excellent snorkeling and diving, and interesting culture.

Which city is cheaper, Bocas del Toro or San Juan del Sur?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in San Juan del Sur is $45, while the average daily cost in Bocas del Toro is $59. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for San Juan del Sur and Bocas del Toro in more detail.



Accommodation

Accommodation prices vary by location and style, but travelers pay on average about $36 for a double occupancy room in San Juan del Sur.

The prices for places to stay in Bocas del Toro can vary by date, location, and type. Generally, the average cost for accommodation per person is $27, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $54.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Juan del Sur $18
    Bocas del Toro $27
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Juan del Sur $36
    Bocas del Toro $54

Food

The average traveler spends about $16 per day in San Juan del Sur for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.

Food in Bocas del Toro costs travelers about $22 per day on average. Restaurants can vary significantly in price, so choose wisely if you're trying to save money. Fast food and street stalls are typically your cheapest options, which sit down restaurants can be significantly more expensive.


  • Food Meals for one day
    San Juan del Sur $16
    Bocas del Toro $22

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Juan del Sur

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in San Juan del Sur.

  • Food Tour - Nicaragua Gastronomy: $102

Typical Food prices in Bocas del Toro

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Bocas del Toro:


  • Lunch
    $15
  • Breakfast
    $14

Local Transportation

The average price of local transportation around San Juan del Sur is $15 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.

Public transportation tends to be much less expensive in Bocas del Toro than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $8.21 on transportation in Bocas del Toro on average per day.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Juan del Sur $15
    Bocas del Toro $8.21

Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Juan del Sur

Some specific examples of transportation prices in San Juan del Sur:

  • One-Way Private Transfer from San Juan del Sur to Managua: $146

Typical Local Transportation prices in Bocas del Toro

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Bocas del Toro:


  • Water Taxi
    $3.01

Is it cheaper to fly into San Juan del Sur or Bocas del Toro?

Prices for flights to both Bocas del Toro and San Juan del Sur change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Entertainment

San Juan del Sur's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $13 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.

Sightseeing expenses in Bocas del Toro, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $17 per day, per person.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Juan del Sur $13
    Bocas del Toro $17

Tours and Activities in San Juan del Sur

Here are a few actual costs in San Juan del Sur for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • ATV Tour: $103
  • Mombacho Volcano Hike and Ziplining Adventure from San Juan del Sur: $159
  • Open Bar Sunset Cruise in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua: $30
  • SJDS PORT EXCURSION: Zipline and Adventure Park: $100
  • San Juan del Sur Shore Excursion: Private Masaya Volcano and Catarina Tour: $201

Typical Entertainment prices in Bocas del Toro

For Bocas del Toro, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • Island Boat Tour
    $25
  • Starfish Island Boat Trip
    $20
  • Yoga Class
    $5.01

Tours and Activities in Bocas del Toro

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Bocas del Toro.

  • Small-Group Speed Boat and Snorkel Tour from Bocas del Toro: $68

Alcohol

While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting San Juan del Sur may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $11 per day on alcoholic beverages.

Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Bocas del Toro, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $9.50.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    San Juan del Sur $11
    Bocas del Toro $9.50


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between San Juan del Sur and Bocas del Toro, we can see that Bocas del Toro is more expensive. And not only is San Juan del Sur much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to San Juan del Sur would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in San Juan del Sur and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Bocas del Toro would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Bocas del Toro than you might in San Juan del Sur.

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San Juan del Sur vs. Bocas del Toro Travel Comparison

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