Cambutal, Panama was my absolute favorite beach in the country, and that’s saying a lot considering I visited 10 beaches up and down the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. There is just something so special about this wild black sand beach that is literally at the end of the road. It hasn’t been discovered yet, and it feels like an amazing secret you get to enjoy before everyone else finds out about it.
But because Cambutal, Panama is quite undiscovered, there’s very little info out there about how to get to the region. It seems that most people come by car, but you can very easily arrive by bus, as well - you just have to know how!
Check out my detailed directions below on how to get to Cambutal, Panama by bus from Panama City.
How to Get to Cambutal, Panama from Panama City by Bus:
If you time it right, this trip will only be 2 bus legs. The important thing is timing! There is a 1pm direct bus in Las Tablas (Leg 2) that you will want to catch, so be sure to get the 8am bus from Panama City or even the 7am bus if you want to play it safe. You can check The Bus Schedule website for a general idea on bus times.
Leg 1 -
You will need to get to the main bus terminal in Panama City - Albrook Terminal. I usually use Uber to get around the city.
Once in Albrook Terminal, you will need to find the ticket counter for Las Tablas. Albrook is HUGE, but don’t be intimidated. Just look for a blue sign above the ticket window that says “Las Tablas”.
Buy a ticket for an express bus to Las Tablas. Try to make the 7 or 8am bus in order to give yourself enough time to catch the next bus at 1pm once you arrive in Las Tablas. This should be about $9-10 and the ride will last about 4-5 hours. The bus will be a large comfortable coach. Be warned that the A/C is usually blasting, so bring a few extra layers with you on the bus to stay warm.
Taxi Between Bus Stations -
Once you arrive in Las Tablas, you will need to travel to a separate bus station. There are always taxis waiting just on the side of the bus station once you arrive. Ask them to go to “la estacion de buses a Tonosi.” This taxi ride should cost $1 and is only a few minutes.
Leg 2 -
Once you arrive at the bus station with buses to Tonosi, ask around for the mini bus to Cambutal. There is one direct bus each day (passing through Tonosi, and going all the way to the end of the road to Cambutal) at 1pm. There is a small restaurant and a grocery store next to the station if you want to grab a bite to eat or some water.
The mini bus will stash your bags in the back or on the roof. Find a seat inside and enjoy the scenic ride. The trip should take about 2 hours and cost about $1.75 per person.
You can ask the bus driver to drop you off directly in front of your hotel.
If You Miss the Direct Bus to Cambutal
Alternate Leg 2 -
You will need to make your total trip in 3 legs. If you arrive in Las Tablas after 1pm, go to the “estacion de buses a Tonosi.” Take the next mini bus to Tonosi, this should take about an hour. Once you arrive in Tonosi, you will need to find another mini bus to Cambutal. They generally leave from about the same area - in front of the main two grocery stores in the middle of town. Feel free to ask around if you’re confused - locals are very helpful.
Alternate Leg 3 -
Hop on the mini bus to Cambutal. This should take an additional hour. Ask the bus driver to drop you off at your hotel.
If you don’t want to wait for the final bus to Cambutal, or the next bus won’t be for awhile - you can take a taxi from Tonosi to the beach at Cambutal. You will see plenty of taxis in the center of town. Be sure to negotiate the rate before you get in the car. It should cost around $15 and take about a half hour.
If you’re looking for the perfect boutique hotel to base yourself while you enjoy Cambutal’s beautiful beach, look no further than La Finca Cambutal. My blog post review has lots of info, tons of pictures, and a video tour.
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It looks like you made a friend while you were here in Cambutal! That’s Buddreaux, our dog, that you have featured in two of your photos! 🙂 He’s “Mr. Popularity” here in Playa Cambutal!
Funny thing is, our grandkids back in Brownwood, TX (who all came to visit last year) were looking up Cambutal on the internet, as the youngest one is coming back to visit us on Saturday. Lo and behold, but whose photo do they see on one of the websites??!! Buddreaux!!
Anyway, I’d like to ask your permission to use that photo of him on our FB Cambutal Community page, and if you’d like to be added as a member, just request it and I’ll approve it. Thanks TC and Emmet King
Haha, that is so funny! We absolutely loved Buddreaux – he liked to join us for sunset each night, and he is still one of the most memorable parts of our time in beautiful Cambutal. Thank you for sharing him with us! 🙂
Of course, feel free to use the photo in the Cambutal FB group. My husband and I fell in love with Cambutal during our days there and hope to return again someday soon.
Thank you so much, Susan!
Be sure and look us up when you come back next time – just ask anyone along the beach for Emmet & TC!
I definitely will! Thanks and take care!
Therese M King
This is TC and Emmet, from Playa Cambutal, the parents of Buddreaux! Just wanted to let you know that I finally posted your two photos of Buddreaux on the Cambutal Community FB page today, in his Memoriam – he passed away yesterday! He will be very much missed, not just by us, but by many, many folks around! Thank you for allowing me to use those two GREAT photos that you shared of him, and we will probably get them printed and framed whenever we can get back to Texas! Best wishes. TC and Emmet
I am so sorry to hear about Buddreaux’s passing. He is one of my favorite memories from my time at Cambutal. I just sent you an email with a bigger size of the photos for you to use. My thoughts are with you. Kind Regards, Susan
Thank you so much for those great instructions.
I have a question, I’m travelling with my 9 foot longboard (very convenient)
Do you think I can take the first bus (with AC) ? Does it fit somewhere ?
On the second one, I can put it on the roof apparently, correct ?
Thank you very much
Good question! The first bus is a typical large intercity bus with space under the bus to store luggage. I’ve never traveled with something that long before, but if you think you could store it in a typical bus’ baggage hold, then I think you should be fine. The 2nd bus (which is like a large passenger van), I think they would just tie it to the top. I think they would have some rope for things like this, but it might not hurt to carry some with you just in case. My guess is that there are other surfers who come out via public transportation from time to time so this is probably something the bus drivers have dealt with. Good luck and have an amazing time! Would love if you could come back and tell us about your experience after your trip. 🙂
This is very helpful info! While in Panama, were you able to get a sim card for your phone to use internet? Can you get it at the airport, so that I can use uber to get to Albrook Terminal?
Hi there – I didn’t need to buy a sim as I had an international phone plan, but I am sure you can pick one up easily at the airport.