Learn Spanish in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Video and Photos

Down the road from school
Down the road from school
Graduation day
Graduation day

About

Bocas del Toro is a funky, laid back archipelago, dotted with pristine islands of white sand beaches, coconut trees and crystal clear turquoise waters. Bocas attracts off the beaten path travelers in search of uncrowded beaches, first class surfing and scuba diving, a chilled and authentic nightlife, and endless opportunities of wildlife encounters both on land and under the Caribbean Sea.

Habla Ya Bocas del Toro holds accreditation from the Instituto Cervantes as well as being an Official DELE Examination Center, and is one of the most and best reviewed immersion programs in Central America, offering you everything from Group to Private Lessons, Medical Spanish or Spanish for Teachers.

Improve your Spanish, explore stunning beaches and make friends from all over the world. Habla Ya will take care of every single detail, setting you up in the most suitable accommodation according to your budget, as well as offering you loads of eco-adventure and volunteering opportunity.

Summer Promo: get a FREE weekly tour when you book 5 weeks or more of Spanish classes!

Learn Spanish and have the vacation of your lifetime:
- Hiking
- Daily Yoga Lessons
- Surfing Courses
- PADI Scuba Diving License
- Rock Climbing
- Ziplining
- Whitewater River Rafting
- Horseback Riding
- Island Hoping
- Sailing
- Caving

Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 63 reviews
  • Instruction 9.6
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 8.9
  • Value 9.1
  • Academics 8
  • Support 8
  • Fun 8
  • Housing 5
  • Safety 10
  • Program Selection 7
  • Pre-departure Help 9
  • In-program Support 7
  • Impact on Student 10
  • Value 10
Showing 1 - 15 of 63
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Ryan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience

I spent 6 weeks studying at Habla Ya in Bocas and Boquete and had an awesome experience at both locations. My teachers were Lineth and Leidys, and both were excellent. They did a great job of making the classes challenging and fun at the same time, and I learned a TON of Spanish. The facilities are comfortable, the Bocas location has air conditioning, which is essential (no AC required in Boquete, the weather is AMAZING).
When I arrived in Panama I knew only the most basic Spanish, and after 6 weeks I was having conversations with locals. The student body at Habla Ya comes from all over the world and I really enjoyed making new friends from around the globe.

If you take the classes seriously and try to speak with locals outside of class hours you will be amazed at how quickly you learn!

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Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience!

I had a great experience with Habla Ya in Bocas del Toro. My teacher, Iraida Howard, was incredibly patient and taught me so much during my 4 weeks in her class. I started at the introductory level and Iraida answered all of my questions and challenged me in a supportive and encouraging way. I would love to return to Habla Ya someday to continue working on my Spanish! My husband and I appreciated the variety of activities provided by Habla Ya, including the Cacao Farm tour, exploring the beautiful beaches around Bocas, and enjoying many meals with teachers and other students. We stayed at an AirBnB within walking distance of the school, which was convenient for us to walk to school everyday. Overall, Habla Ya provided an enriching and memorable experience!

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Nika
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

More than learning a language

I spent two weeks at Habla Ya, Bocas del Toro in October 2019 (October is considered low season).

First of all, I have to say that I only chose a language trip because I wanted to travel alone but easily get in contact with others.
As I am 29, in a stable job and only have a limited time of vacation, I did not picture myself in a noisy 12 bed dorm to get contacts.

Before the trip, I had quite a tough time at work, so I only knew that Bocas was a group of Islands and that the weather should be better there during rainy season than in Panama City (which is true).

Coming with little expectations, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place and the friendlyness of the people. If you come by plane, make sure to get a window seat - the sight and especially the landing is a magical experience itself.
Bocas lives mainly from trourism, so everybody is super friendly and willing to help. Just be careful with prices. E.g. a taxi in the city area should not cost you more than 0.60$, a taxi boat to the neighbouring island about 1$.

From all over the place, you can have a beautiful sight on the sea and other islands. At the hostels Mamallena or Selinas terrasses are open for visitors and invite for a swim or a drink in the afternoon. Many students also stayed there as especially Mamallena is quite close to school. I stayed at the Palma Royale because, as mentioned, I wanted a rather quiet sleeping environment.

For me, what made my journey outstanding, where my teachers at Habla Ya. I have done courses in Spain and Mexico before but this wasn´t comparable. Every person I was in contact with, was keen to provide the best experience to the students and to get their Spanish to the next level. Furthermore, they also took part in evening activities, partied with us and tought us not only their language but their culture.

To me, this is outstanding because we tend to forget that for them, people change all the time. Every week, new people come and others go. And each and every time, they immediately connect with new arrivals and celebrate last evenings with leaving students. They all have friends and family but invest so much more than the teaching time they are paid for.

To summarize it: Bocas del Toro is a paradise. Yes, you can see beautiful beaches, dolphins, sloths and have the filthies friday party of your life. But more importantly, you should go there if you want to meet people that are honest, open and invite you to discover their real culture, far beyond happy hours, Caribbean style island bars and raggaeton parties at the beach.

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Amabel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience!

I was a student at Habla ya for 2 months this year and really enjoyed my time there.
I had 4 hours of group classes in the morning and 1 hour of private classes in the afternoon.
My group class teachers changed from time to time, which was a little bit inconvenient at times, but overall the classes were good. I especially want to thank my private class teacher Lineith, who taught me a LOT in a relatively short amount of time every afternoon. Especially, the way she explained the grammar things to me, was very efficient and the classes were always a lot of fun and we had a lot of great conversations during our lessons. :)

The school organizes a lot of activities and it was always a lot of fun! However, if you consider Habla Ya in Bocas, consider that it is a Party Island and most activities (except the coffe tours, hiking..) revolve around going out and partying... So if this is not your thing at all I would recommend you a different location in Panama.
I was living in a Hostfamily ( Maribel), which was a good experience. She is a very warm hearted person and cares about her students. Also, she accomodates several students from the School, so you're likely to meet & connect with people easily, which made settling in very easy.

What would you improve about this program?
Maybe advertise more globally, so that not just people from Switzerland and Germany come here.
Certain weeks, we were almost only Swiss and German people at the school, which was a little bit sad... as I would have loved to meet more people from around the world.

Sometimes the school was a little unorganised when it came to changes. If you stay there for several weeks/months and the school is very busy, it could be that you're group class teacher will change. As this is generally not a problem, I would have liked a heads up before. :)
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Aubrey
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Boquete is beautiful

My family of five settled in Boquete for 6 weeks to study Spanish at Habla Ya. We were split into classes by age and Spanish level. My husband had never studied Spanish before and so was put into a beginner adult group class. Similarly, my two younger children joined a beginner group class while my older daughter (13) was put into an intermediate group adult class with me because she already had a foundation in Spanish. At times, the school had very few students and my family ended up being the only ones in each of our “group” lessons. My oldest had a harder time because she didn’t fit into the schema that they’ve developed. She wanted to be with other kids her age but the classes were too basic for her. However, the school tried to accommodate our needs as best they could and the teachers really demonstrate that they care about student progress. I studied with Leidys Pitti for 5 weeks. She did a great job incorporating conversation into our daily classes and making note when we had an opportunity to practice new skills.

I am so glad we chose to study Spanish in Boquete because it was the perfect place to settle in for 6 weeks. The center of town is always bustling with friendly activity, people saying hello, shops, restaurants, and, lots of beautiful fresh produce at the outdoor market stalls. In addition, the weather in Boquete is refreshing and always the perfect temperature. On extra warm days, showers would come in and cool the air down to a comfortable range. We also met a lot of friendly people from the area and everyone was willing and generous about letting us practice our Spanish, even though they speak very good English themselves.

The kids loved the variety of extra activities that they could participate in around Boquete, such as white river rafting, zip lining, rock climbing, hikes, horseback riding, and swimming in the mini canyons. If you’re on a tighter budget, the hikes in the area are spectacular and only cost a small fee for the taxi ride to the trailhead. The food was also a highlight for us. We had some really spectacular meals both local food and other cuisines. The family favorite was Colibrí, a restaurant on the gardens of the hotel where we stayed (more about Isla Verde below). Colibrí agreed to teach our family a private cooking class after my husband talked to the chef about his and the kids’ interest. They thought the class was phenomenal and learned new techniques, and how to make some of the best food we’ve ever had.

The traditional Panamanian food of the area includes a soup called Sancocho, rice, beans, a meat, plantains, and a side salad. There were a number of local restaurants that served this food beautifully. Our favorite was Las Orchillas. The other cafe that we really enjoyed was called Sugar and Spice which had great breakfasts and salads for lunch.

Finally, the place where we stayed was absolutely perfect for us. We rented a large roundhouse at Isla Verde. The house was a single room with a loft. It was small but didn’t feel too tight or crowded for our family of five. The house was surrounded by beautiful gardens and fruit trees. The staff was extremely helpful all the time and we met some wonderful other guests from all over the world.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
The school provides very technical language knowledge and practice. When I think of immersion, I imagine conversation and practice of communication in daily living. It is more geared toward academic linguistic skills. The program uses a system based on curriculum developed for 3-weeks of language skill development per book, at the beginner and intermediate levels. The teachers move systematically through the material at a weekly pace. If you are only there for a week, it may feel like you are learning a random section of information.
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Andrew
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

6 weeks of Spanish classes at Habla Ya Panama - Boquete

My family and I attended Habla Ya Panama in Boquete for six weeks, in anticipation of a move to Chile for a year. The experience was great.

First, a word about Boquete and surrounding Chiriqui. We visited in July and early August, which is the rainy season, and the weather was great for us. It was never hot, and there was usually a strong cool breeze, just perfect summer weather. In the afternoons, at least in July/August, it often rains, so you might schedule classes for the afternoon. We stayed at Isla Verde, a series of bungalows with kitchenettes about a 3-4 minute walk from the school. They were surrounded by lush gardens, and I was very happy with our stay there. The restaurant at Isla Verde, Colibri, was our favorite in Boquete, but mostly we ate at the inexpensive local restaurants, Sabrason, Amarillas, and Orchiadas. The main part of the town, Boquete Centro, is fairly small, and has a mix of supermarkets, stores, and restaurants catering to locals, as well as more tourist oriented restaurants. Boquete some great coffee and chocolate shops (this is the source for some of the best coffee in the world). The town is surrounded by verdant hills, which is lovely, and you can buy pineapples and other vegetables on the street and in the fruit and vegetable market for inexpensive prices, so it’s nice to have a place to stay with a kitchen. There are fresh fruits everywhere, a few of which I’d never seen before, and many restaurants have batidas (fruit shakes) and fresas con crema (strawberries and cream). Boquete positions itself as an adventure town, and there is a lot to do outside the town, including hikes, coffee, honey, and chocolate farms, Volcan Baru (which I didn’t visit), and ziplining and other trips. For the hikes, you can just take a taxi to a trailhead, and then catch a minibus back to town. My favorite out of town adventures were a rafting trip and two visits to the Mini Canyons, where you can swim and picnic with the locals in lovely warm water. In town, we had an amazing cooking class experience at Colibri, and a chocolate making experience at A Perfect Pair, which we loved as well.

I came to Habla Ya with no Spanish language experience, and after six weeks I can communicate fairly well, having a conversation with anyone. I’m very happy with the progress I was able to make. My vocabulary is still fairly small, and when native speakers talk with me rapid-fire, I often need to ask them to slow down. For the first three weeks, I worked out of their first workbook, which gave me all of the foundations for the language. It was well organized, and I learned basic past, present, and future tenses, how to conjugate verbs, and a lot of other language structure. The next three weeks I worked out of a second book that added additional tenses, and other concepts. I think the school is very language structure oriented, which worked well for me. For these two books they were essentially laying the foundations for me so that I could add vocabulary later and conceptually know how to use it. The classes we took were from 1-5pm, with a 20 minute break in the middle. I had about 15-20 minutes of homework at night, but then I would generally spend another 40 minutes or so reviewing the day’s work, which was a big help in cementing my learning. Because I was there in the off-season, I had essentially about 3 weeks of private lessons (since there was no one else at my level at that moment), and three weeks with 2-3 other students in the class, who were coming from the US, Germany, and France.

I had two professors:
My professor, Pedro Abrego, was great. He’s a quiet person, and fairly reserved, and conveys both humility and an unflaggingly positive attitude. He’s extremely knowledgeable and dedicated to teaching. He keeps the class moving at a quick pace, although he’s happy to work through a concept until you understand it. He will not speak English, which in some cases might have saved some time (it can take me a long time to ask a question in Spanish), but I think that is part of the professors’ training. His explanations were clear, and I couldn’t believe how much I knew by the end. He was a good fit for me, and he pushed me far in Spanish. I appreciated the chance to learn with Pedro.

My professor, Erian Marin, was wonderful. At different times, he taught both me and my kids, and was equally adept at both. He has a great sense of humor, and makes classes fun to attend. At the same time he helped me move quickly through the lessons, he was attuned to the students who might need extra support, and kept us all on the same page. In the case of my kids, he understood how to balance learning with fun and games. My younger son was not as excited about the material as his older sister, and Erian worked hard to keep them both engaged (including the occasional soccer game). I was so impressed with Erian’s teaching skill and charm, and I routinely looked forward to my classes with him.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you haven't taken Spanish, you'd be fine going in cold. However, Duo Lingo helped a lot, and Tiny Cards were also helpful for me to review what I learned.
Daneilia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Excellent blend of adventure & study

​I took classes in all 3 Habla Ya locations and they were all excellent! Boquete however is the perfect blend of adventure and focused study. Kimberly is an EXCELLENT teacher, patient and consistent in reinforcing new and repeat concepts. I highly recommend any branch of Habla Ya, but Boquete was by far my favorite.​

The best part of Boquete is the balanced lifestyle of adventure and relaxation. There are many locals, alot of retirees and a good number of adventure-seekers without it feeling overwhelming. My best advice is to do the scenic tour on arrival - you get to see so much in 2 hours and it really gives you a good understanding of what all there is to do!

If you're there for a few days or more definitely do white water rafting, horseback riding, hiking, a coffee tour, try fresas con crema (yum) and visit Bambuda castle for sure!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My best advice is to do the scenic tour on arrival - you get to see so much in 2 hours and it really gives you a good understanding of what all there is to do!

If you're there for a few days or more definitely do white water rafting, horseback riding, hiking, a coffee tour, try fresas con crema (yum) and visit Bambuda castle for sure!
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Rae
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful Experience

I had a wonderful experience learning Spanish with Habla Ya in Bocas del Toro! It was a great way to get a feel for local life since I still worked a full 8 hours a day and then studied for an hour every day after work. I stayed with a host family who was absolutely wonderful, made absolutely delicious food, and they were also incredibly patient while I learned. I arrived in Bocas without speaking any Spanish and by the end of my 6 weeks, my teacher Iraida was explaining the upcoming election and Panamanian politics to me while we only spoke Spanish. Needless to say, my understanding of the language has grown immensely. So thanks Iraida and Habla Ya!

Bocas del Toro is also s a wonderful place for all around fun. If you love the beach you'll love Bocas. It has incredible beaches and amazing diving. If you like adventure and want to learn Spanish, you should definitely spend some time in Bocas. :)

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I think I would stay for longer and I would try to avoid working. There's so much the area has to offer and I wish I could have dedicated more time to explore it.
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Sandra
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Highly recommended

Highly recommended language school! I studied several weeks at HablaYa at lovely Bocas del Toro and had a very great time! The school is well organized and they are offering various opportunities how to study spanish! The students are at every age and from all over the world. I decided to book a group class and I met many lovely people during my weeks. The staff & teachers (Lineth, Benita, Sergio ... ) are just incredible, very helpful, lovely and extremely nice and unique persons. They are not just teachers, they are your "friends and family"! Everybody is trying to give the best, to make your stay far away from home and the learning experience, easy and unforgettable! I felt very safe and very quick "at Home"! They are even organizing many activities "outside" the classroom and studying hours, which was always fun and a very good opportunity to catch up with them and all the other students (like Yoga, Volleyball, Movie Nights, Dinners, Tours around the beautiful island, Bonfire at the beach and many more things)! My special thanks goes to my lovely, wonderful and amazing teacher LINETH! She was always there for me and helped me so much to improve my spanish! She made me feel so secure and welcome from the very first minute. Her teaching style is a perfect mixture of: the basics with all the grammar, talking, playing funny games, laughing and telling very interesting stories about Panama, the culture and the peoples life! She even invited us to her hometown and her family, which was a great experience! I am proud to say, we are very good friends now and I am sure we will see us again, one time! Muchas gracias y hasta luego to my "Chi´s Lineth & Benita" and everybody else! Sandra

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Ken
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Habla Ya Boquete March, 2019

I wanted to take a few minutes to compose a review of my experience in Boquete Panama and in particular, speak about Habla Ya, a world class Spanish immersion school that I keep returning to there.

Firstly, I’m a 63 year old Canadian and have lived in the U.S. for the last 28 years. During my formative years in Canada I had little interest in learning a second language and regrettably, while French was an option in the Canadian curriculum, taking it was not mandatory. After my relocation to the U.S. in 1991, I soon learned what a benefit it would be to learn another language. As almost half of the population of Phoenix and San Diego where I divide my time, are Spanish speaking, Spanish had to be my defacto choice.

Unfortunately, as an entrepreneur, my 30’s, 40’s and 50’s were dedicated to building my businesses and this left little time for anything, much less learning a second language. Secretly, during these 3 decades, I had a burning desire to learn the language and during the many trips my wife and I had taken to Mexico, I watched, listened and envied every non-native communicating in Spanish.

Now, fortunately I have an abundance of time and have diligently spent the last 3 years learning the language poco a poco! We’ve all heard metaphor, “slow and steady wins the race” and this is no more applicable than undertaking the exercise of learning another language. I’m completely dedicated and though I may be a little slower than the 20 somethings, I will achieve a level of mastery over this language. I can tell anyone who may be contemplating learning another language, the decision is not to be taken lightly. It’s grueling, frustrating and time consuming! So, why do it? Learning the language is no different than building blocks; you simply keep building on that which you’ve already learned. I’m by no means proficient but there’s very little that I can’t communicate to someone in a Spanish only speaking country. And this folks, is what keeps me going!

Now, to the school. I just completed my third trip to Habla Ya in Panama and each time keeps getting better. The first 3-week segment was in Bocas Del Toro, a quaint little beach town frequented by young and old from all over the world. The last 2 visits were to Boquete, a location I prefer due to its’ cooler climate, beautiful scenery and incredibly reasonable prices. Leidys was my profesora for levels A2 & B1 in Boquete. Leidys has been with the school for 10-years and I’ve found her to be excellent in her ability to teach new concepts and patient enough when certain concepts need to be re-explained. I’d recommend her highly!

The school is completely professional in every respect and there’s little wonder in my mind as to why they’ve earned their very favorable ratings year after year. From trying to accommodate the smallest request to meticulously organizing fun outings for the students, these people do it all!

YOU - QUIT PROCRASTINATING AND START LEARNING!

Sent from my iPad

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Raffaela
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Spanishcourse with Leidys in Habla Ya Boquete

We just had one week private Spanish lessons with Leidys and it was really great! Me and my boyfriend are having different Spanish levels and she managed that perfectly. She explained everything in Spanish though we could follow even with limited Spanish knowledge. She was a very helpful, enthusiastic and motivating teacher and we really had fun learning Spanish with her. The course was organized really good and we got great learning materials. In general the whole organization of Habla Ya was really great. Futhermore we enjoyed being in Boquete, as it is a very beautiful little town with an amazing landscape!

Raffaela and Lukas
We would higly recommend this language school to all people how want to everyone who would like to raise his spanish skills

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Anna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

4 month Spanish classes in Bocas Del Toro, Panama

I started my time at Habla Ya with knowing almost no spanish and by the time I left four month later I was able to have conversations in spanish. Im really thankful for my time in Bocas del Toro, the environment is wonderful, the people are friendly and I love the culture and the ”no stress”-vibe. I’m especially grateful for my teacher Iraida Howard who is a great teacher with a lot of patience (which is helpful when you struggle with verbs, conjugations and thousands of palabras ;)), she’s also responsive to what you might need extra support with and her positivity and humor make the lessons fun and educational.
Muchas gracias por todo Habla Ya y mi profesora Iraida. Extraño Panama ya! Espero que pueda volver algún dia!

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Tabitha
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

sucessfull development of Travel language skills

I just finished 4 1/2 unplaned weeks of language school in Bocas. I got in, in the middle of the week and just could attend a on going class. In my second week i could switch to private classes in the afternoon. So many thanks to the frontdesk for the flexibility. With Lineth i got an amazing teacher who was always adapting properly to my language level in speaking und boosting it in such a short time to a new level! So I got really into spanish and got joy of using it, what made me take 3 weeks more of private lessons with Lineth. By arriving i couldn‘t even build one proper sentence, now am able to have a real conversation.

First i really would have prefered to take private classes in the morning, whats not possible, as the teachers have regular classes in the morning. but with classes from 3-5 you still have time to do something in the morning or learning a bit on your own. Some people take 4 hours of private classes per day-> for me 2 hours per day where perfect as its more intens (2 classes private are equal to 4 hours in a regular class)

ps. i cant t rate the housing as i did organise it on my own.

Jason
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great place to learn or improve your Spanish

A great place to learn Spanish. I initially only signed up for 1 week but added a second week because I was really enjoying it and learning a lot. Benita is an amazing and patient teacher who knows her stuff. Expensive but worth the money.

Bocas itself didn't have as great and as convenient beaches as I was expecting but it was still a really cool spot. Mamallenas was a nice hostel with an amazing back deck that you can swim from.

Now I just need to keep practicing to make sure I don't lose what I have learned. So far I have found it a lot easier to get around Central America with my improved Spanish.

And now I'm just rambling to get my characters up to 750. Not sure why they need so many characters to write a simple review. Need 6 more, there we go.

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Mark
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience

My family and I spent two weeks at the Habla Ya Bocas del Toro campus. Our experience was great. My teacher Benita was outstanding. She did a great job of push us forward at a pace that kept things moving. She was always happy to change gears to meet our individual learning needs. This was my first time taking a Spanish class and my Spanish grammar improved significantly. It was a great experience.

My daughters (10 and 6) had classes with Yessica who was absolutely great

The town was beautiful and felt very safe. Important, traveling with a young family. We did a homestay with Romaldo and Viodelda who were lovely! They made an effort to help us practice our Spanish, and the food was incredible. It was a highlight of our trip! We would definitely recommend this experience!

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About Habla Ya Spanish Schools

Learn Spanish by the Caribbean Sea, in the cloud forest, in Latin America's most cosmopolitan city, or at the three of them! With locations in Panama's most exciting destinations by the beach (Bocas del Toro), in the mountains (Boquete), and in...