Spanish by the Sea (Calle 4 and Avenida A, tel. 757-9518, cell 6592-0775, www.spanishbythesea.com ) is a flexible Spanish-language program run by a friendly staff that operates out of a home in the heart of Bocas town. Prices depend on course length, size of group, and hours per day of instruction. For instance, a five-day group course, with two hours a day of instruction, is US$800 per person. A five-day, six-hour-a-day intensive private course would cost US$430. There are price breaks for longer courses and small groups who enroll together.
Students can spend part of their course at the school’s sister facilities, Spanish by the River in Boquete  and in Turrialba, Costa Rica . The school can also arrange tours, dance lessons, and cooking lessons for an extra fee.
It’s also possible to combine courses with volunteer work, including help with a sea-turtle conservation  project March–September, for those who want to practice their Spanish in meaningful situations or just help out. (It will connect nonstudents with volunteer work for a US$35 fee.)
Students can stay at the school in very basic rooms with fans and shared bathrooms for US$10 for a shared room or US$15 for a private room. Laundry service (US$5 a load), Internet access (US$1/hour), and breakfast (US$4) are available. Guests are welcome to use the kitchen.
The school also arranges homestays with a family in Bocas town for US$15 per person for a private room, including breakfast. Apartments are also available. In 2010, the school acquired a second location closer to the airport and was planning to use this at least until it upgraded its main building.
A Florida-based nonprofit called the Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (ITEC) (U.S. tel. 352/367-9128, www.itec‑edu.org) has a biological field station in Boca del Drago . It’s a private outfit unaffiliated with any university, but it draws its faculty from various U.S. and Latin American universities.
It offers three-week winter and four-week summer courses in tropical ecology. Tuition is US$1,650 and US$1,950 respectively. The fee includes room and board—students are housed in the rustic Cabañas Estefani and fed at Restaurante Yarisnori, both of which are next to the station.
There is also a two-week “travel session” that takes students around Panama  (US$900). ITEC sometimes uses a second research facility on the Soropta Peninsula.