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Home 101 Exciting Things to do in Panama!

101 Exciting Things to do in Panama!

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Article Index
101 Exciting Things to do in Panama!
Index by Topic
1-32: Panama City
33-44: Casco Viejo
45-53: Near Panama City
54-56: Kuna Yala Comarca
57-58: Province of Darien
59-65: Province of Colon
66-70: Province of Cocle
71-74: El Valle de Anton
75-80: Province of Veraguas
81: Province of Herrera
82-84: Province of Los Santos
85: Ngobe Bugle Comarca
86-92: Province of Chiriqui
93-94: Province of Bocas del Toro
95-98: The Perl Islands
99-101: Anywhere & Everywhere
All Pages

 

"Chocolaté Covers Panama"

101 Exciting Things To Do in Panama

T. Rob Brown (aka Roberto Chocolate)This guide is meant to inspire you to get out and enjoy all the exciting things that Panama has to offer. There are 101 exciting ideas you can do right now. Some are simple and inexpensive. Others may involve a trip or a journey of discovery.

The ideas are organized by province (Panama has 9 provinces and three ‘Comarcas’ or autonomous territories), and cross-referenced by topic at the end of this guide.

If you discover something exciting to do that we have not thought of or you uncover a typo or a mistake in one of the listings, please LET US KNOW!

If you wish to advertise or be listed in this guide, please contact our offices by

e-mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Please send us your comments and feedback so we can make this guide the best of its kind.  But above all - ENJOY!

(Photo by Yolanda Van Der Kolk)

Sincerely,
Roberto Chocolaté - The Retirement Detective

 

Website: www.retirementdetectives.com

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 


Index (by Topic):

1-32: Panama City

  1. Vist Panama Viejo - The Old town
  2. Go shopping
  3. Wine bar
  4. Metropolitan park
  5. Miniature villages
  6. Pre-Columbian jewelry
  7. El raspao – ice drink
  8. Casinos
  9. Dancing
  10. Striptease show
  11. Lebanese food
  12. Spanish lessons
  13. Billiards/pool
  14. Dentists
  15. Marina – restaurant overlooking
  16. Scuba dive two oceans in a day
  17. Chocolate
  18. Murder mystery dinner theatre, live theatre
  19. Fresh fish market/ restaurant
  20. Bar hopping Panama City
  21. Drinking rum/Bristol Hotel
  22. Jogging on the Amador causeway
  23. Darts
  24. Museums/art galleries
  25. Crocodile purses
  26. Pizza in your hotel room
  27. Riding the Diablo Rojo’s – red devil buses
  28. Lottery tickets
  29. Bicycles built for two
  30. Tennis
  31. Folk dance shows
  32. Buses to El Valle
  33. 33-44: Casco Viejo

  34. Casco Viejo
  35. Dungeon
  36. Golden alter
  37. Hand-sewn Pollera dress’s
  38. Flat arch
  39. Canal Museum
  40. Sailing
  41. Roof garden of the National Theatre
  42. Presidential palace
  43. Gourmet lunch to go
  44. Italian coffee and decadent cheesecake
  45. Jazz
  46. Isla Toboga (Island of Flowers)
  47. 45-53 Near Panama City

  48. Cruising the Panama Canal
  49. Miaflores Locks
  50. Surfing/kite surfing
  51. Push/pull sex motels
  52. Glow in the dark bowling
  53. Horse racing
  54. Polo
  55. Jungle boat tour
  56. 54-56: Kuna Yala Comarca

  57. Kuna village
  58. Charter a boat
  59. Darien – New Edinbourogh
  60. 57-58: Province of Darien

  61. Deep sea fishing
  62. 500 year old fort in the Darien Jungle
  63. 59-65: Province of Colon

  64. Historic train to Colon
  65. Scuba dive Portobello
  66. Black Christ
  67. Fresh-water fly fishing
  68. Canopy Tower – Gamboa
  69. Fort Lorenzo
  70. Camino de Cruces trail
  71. 66-70: Province of Cocle

  72. Golf
  73. Horseback riding – stables
  74. Lobster/karaoke
  75. Dance with the locals
  76. Los Camisones local restaurant
  77. 71-74: El Valle de Anton

  78. Sunday market at El Valle
  79. Spas
  80. Zip line through the jungle
  81. Zoo in El Valle
  82. 75-80: Province of Veraguas

  83. Floating hotel
  84. Swim with dolphins
  85. Hot springs/lake in the mountains
  86. Pre-Columbian artifacts
  87. Scuba dive with manta rays
  88. Go to prison
  89. 81: Province of Herrera

  90. Desert
  91. 82-84: Province of Los Santos

  92. Pedasi – prettiest town in Panama
  93. Mardi Gras
  94. Tuna fishing
  95. 85: Ngobe Bugle Comarca

  96. Embera Village
  97. 86-92: Province of Chiriqui

  98. White water rafting
  99. Worlds most expensive coffee – Boquete
  100. Kayaking
  101. Picking strawberries
  102. Horseback riding on the beach
  103. Vulcan – seeing two oceans at the same time
  104. Petroglyphs and waterfalls
  105. 93-94: Province of Bocas del Toro

  106. Caribbean style in Bocas del Toro
  107. Thatched huts on stilts
  108. 95-98: The Perl Islands

  109. Whale watching
  110. Spear fishing
  111. Private jet to Perl Islands
  112. Nude sunbathing
  113. 99-101:  Anywhere and Everywhere

  114. Laying in a hammock
  115. Buying souvenirs
  116. Buying a house or a condo 

 


 

1-32: Panama City

1) Visit the the oldest city in The Americas. Panama Viejo - 'The Old City' of Panama. Founded in 1519. While Grenada, Nicaragua tries to lay claim to being the oldest city (Grenada was  founded in 1524) and Ponce de  Leon may have visited Saint Augustine, Florida in 1513, this US city was not founded until 1565. Christopher Columbus himself visited Panama on his fourth voyage in 1502, and tried to start a colony called Santa Maria de Belen on the Caribbean coast, but it failed. Mexico City was an Aztec center, but Panama City is the oldest continuously occupied city in all of The Americas.

 

33-panama-casco-viejo-02

Casco Viejo. Photo courtesy phototakeout.com

Rumors persist that Panama City was sacked and burned by pirate Henry Morgan in January 1671. The truth is that when Morgan attacked, the Governor of Panama ordered all of the gun-powder magazines  burned.  The subsequent explosion set the entire city on fire! Morgan ransacked and looted the old city for twenty eight days, capturing over six hundred prisoners. The most important remaining structures are  the partially restored 40 meter bell tower, the cathedral (built between 1619 and 1626) and the Bishops House. There is an artisans market and a small restaurant at the entrance. The Spanish used Panama as their base to wipe out the Caribe, Inca and Aztec Indians. How is it they were never able to wipe out the hostile Indian tribes of Panama?

 

On Via Cincuentenario (an extension of Av Balboa/Via Israel). Visitors Center open Tues. - Sun. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Closed Mondays. Adults $3.00 Retirees $2.00 Children/Students $0.50 cents. Tel: 226- 1757

 

2) Shop 'till you drop: Start at one of the city's major shopping malls:

  • Multicentro Mall on Avenida Balboa in the Patilla district, a European style mall with free concerts and outdoor dining. 
    • Tel: 208- 2500
  • Albrook Mall next to the Gran Terminal bus station, it is a tourist attraction in its own right. Hundreds of stores, two food courts, cinemas, even a live theater. 
    • Tel: 303- 6255
  • Multiplaza Pacific Mall in Punta Pacifica district. Two hundred and fifty stores including Reba Smith's - the expat's favorite grocer that will import whatever you want or can't find anywhere else - for a price. 
    • Tel:  302- 5380/302- 5381
  • Flamenco Plaza on the Amador causeway 
    • Tel: 314- 0908

 

Panama also has two famous street shopping districts - Via Espana for elegance/designer goods and Avenida Central for bargains with over 20 blocks of non-stop shopping.

 

3) Sip a glass of fine wine and sample hors d'oevres at Ma Maison Wine Bar, Calle 49 off Calle Uruguay. E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

  • Tel: 264-4608

 

Corks - Photo courtesy of Phototakeout.com

Wine cork photo courtesy phototakeout.com

 

4) Visit the only tropical forest located within a capital city - the 265 hectare Metropolitan National Park has over 45 species of mammals, 36 species of reptiles, 14 species of amphibians and over 227 species of exotic  birds just a short fifteen minute taxi drive away  from your hotel. Find one of the over 1,500 different kinds of orchids grown in Panama. The entrance is on Avenida Juan Pablo 11. 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. every day. No entry,  however donations are appreciated. Visitors center is open 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Guided tours in English and Spanish $6. For safety it is best not to walk in the park by yourselves. Call in advance to book a guide/tour.

  • Tel:  232- 5552/ 232- 5516
Photograph courtesy of phototakeout.com
Harpy Eagle photo courtesy phototakeout.com

Tapir - Photo courtesty of Phototakeout.com

Tapir photo courtesy phototakeout.com

 

5) Tour Mi Pueblito: (my tiny village) replicas of a Panamanian interior town, a 1950's Afro-Antilles town and a Kuna Indian and a Choco Indian village. The large compound has a barber shop, church, mayor's office,  school, telegraph office, central square, gardens, fountains, street lamps, and typical adobe houses with roofs of creole tile. There is a pollera museum, a grocery shop and a gift shop where you can buy handicrafts.  Handicrafts include the amazing ivory-like carved tagua nut by the Wounaan Indian tribe from Darien Province.  $2 entry fee for all three villages. Open 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Tues. - Sat.

Photograph courtesy of phototakeout.com

Antillian Village at Mi Publito photo courtesy phototakeout.com

Photograph courtesy of phototakeout.come

Kuna Yala hut at Mi Pueblito courtesy phototakeout.com

 

6) Watch how replicas of pre-Columbian gold jewelry are made using the lost wax process at Reprosa Jewelers on Avenida Samuel Lewis and Calle 54.

  • Tel: 228- 4913/for tours call 271- 0033

 

 

7) Try 'el raspao' - a traditional Panamanian treat - an unusual sweet cream/syrup poured over shaved ice. Pick any vendor on the street with a cart. Stroll the Avenue Balboa, named after the Spanish explorer that  discovered 'The South Sea' (the Pacific Ocean!) See the construction of the new boulevard/park/walking path being built on landfill in the harbor. Remember, Ave Balboa changes it's name a few times throughout  the city - it is Ave Balboa along the water, then it becomes Via Israel in Paitilla, and finally Via Cencuentenario in the San Francisco district when it reduces down to two lanes)

el_raspao

Photo by Roberto Chocolate

 

8) Make a withdrawal (win) at a casino!

 

  • Majestic Casino at Multicentro Mall Avenida Balboa near Punta Patilla- international shows such as bolero dancers from Cuba, comedy shows from Mexico, 'vallentos' dancers from Colombia. OR
  • Veneto Hotel and Casino, one block from Via Espana, 512 slot machines, 42 gaming tables, large poker room, a Baccarat salon, virtual machines, and betting shop.

 

 

9) Dance the night away! Learn how to salsa on Wednesday's, tango on Thursday nights and on Friday night, watch colourful Argentine folkloric dance shows at Pizza Piola on Calle 51 Bella Vista.

 

  • Tel:263-4668

 

Or dance the salsa and the meringue with Salsa Panama on El Cangrejo near Gaxexa Art University. www.salsapanama.com Eric del Valley Street.  Join them when they go out and dance the night away at Belambolero on Calle Uruguay with DJ Ramiro.

 

  • Tel: 264- 2742/Cell: 6657- 5319

 

 

10) Take her to a gentleman's club (strip-tease show):

 

11) Enjoy savory Lebanese foods at Beirut Restaurant, Calle 52 at Ricardo Arias across from the Marriott Hotel - great food, good service at the right prices - try the Hummus and sweet mint tea. 5 star rating from The Panama Restaurant Review (www.panamarestaurantreview.com)

 

  • Tel: 214-3815

 

 

12) Take a Spanish lesson - go to a movie (all movies are in English with Spanish sub titles - a great way to learn Spanish!) Cost $4.00.  Or Spanish by the Sea / Spanish by the River. Outdoor tropical garden classrooms, all levels, group or private lessons, volunteering opportunities in school/hospitals/orphanages. Cooking and dance classes, river rafting adventures.

 

  • $80 per week Group lessons - 10 hours a week (2 hours/day) and $150 per week for private lessons - 10 hours per week (2 hours/day).
  • Accommodations available: Private room $15/night.
  • Website: www.spanishbythesea.com
  • E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: Bouquete: 720- 3456
  • Bocas del Toro: 757-9518
 
  • OR Spanish Panama School (in Panama City).
  • # 1 rated Spanish Program in The Americas (Frommers, Lonely Planet, Rough Guides)
  • One week crash course: $160, with accommodations: $320 includes course materials, breakfast, Latin dance lessons and tour of the City.
  • Canadian run, certified professors, relaxed atmosphere
  • Website: www.SpanishPanama.com
  • E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: 213- 3121, Cell: 6590- 2007, or 6624- 3302
  • In El Cangrejo next to the main business district Ave 3a Norte off Via Argentina
  • Student Residence Option, Anita's Inn; http://www.hostelspanama.com
    Location- Via Argentina, down the side road behind Trapiche Restaurant & Manolos, beside Floresteria Cupido, above the Greenhouse Restaurant on Via Argentina which is across the street from the Subway Sandwich Shop near Einstein's Head. (this is an actual address in Panama - this is how it's done)

 

13) Shoot a game of pool at The Rockin' Gorilla on Via Argentina (look for the six foot Gorilla playing a guitar on the thatched roof). Pool tables are $2.50/hr.  Win a free bottle on Karaoke Friday nights.  Open 24/7, lots of  expats. Tel: 399-6500

 

 

14) SMILE! Get new veneers on your teeth. Panama is a medical tourism destination with state of  the art facilities, US trained English speaking doctors and dentists and according to them - all at at a fraction of USA prices.

 

  • Ford Clinic Dental Spa. Royal Center Tower A, 10th Fl. - Dr. Ford has 18 years of experience in periodonticts/implant dentistry. US Trained, English/Spanish.
  • www.smilepanama.com
  • Tel: 223- 4742

 

Or

 

  • Y.B. General Dentistry - Dr's Octavio and Anna M. De Ycaza
  • Via Israel and Calle 66, Panama City
  • Tel: 322-2580

 

We went to the dentist - see our report on the website: got to "Destinations" section, select "Panama"

 

15) Sittin' On The Dock of The Bay. Watch the boats go by at Bennigan's “La Marina”, a gringo pub on the Amador causeway, great for wings and beer and watching the tide roll away or cheer for US and international  sports on the big screen TV's. Soccer is HUGE in Panama!!! When Spain is playing in the World Cup, don't expect prompt service anywhere - everyone is watching the game!

 

16) See the sun rise on Pacific and set in the Caribbean in the same day OR Scuba dive two oceans in a single day ($150/per person, 2 person min. 5:30 am departure, lunch included.

 

  • Tourista International S.A. Run by the founder/owner since 1971.
  • IATA and WATA (World Association of Travel Agencies) certified. Av 12 de Octubre and Via Espana L - 4, Panama City
  • Website: www.turitaintl.com
  • Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: 224 - 903/6611-0081
  • Cell:  6613-4694

 

 

17) Indulge in decadent chocolates and baked goods on the deck of Petit Paris (chocolates are .80 cents each) A little bit of Paris in the tropics. Costa del Este and Marbella. Two shops, one in the City one on the causeway.

 

  • Tel: 391-8778

 

 

OR Try Riba Smith's new in-store deli/gourmet products - the chef prepares chocolates in their own kitchen (.30 - .40 cents a piece). Above the Do It Center in Multiplaza Pacific Mall. Tel: 229-3999

 

 

18) Get killed off on a murder mystery dinner cruise with the Expat Explorer Group. Monthly socials/multiple events and activities.

 

  • E-Mail: expatsinpanama.com

 

OR

 

  • Go see a play in English at Theatre Guild of Ancon PO Box 0843-03018 Panama. To volunteer or get tickets: Tel: 210 - 0060

 

OR

 

  • Live Theatre in Spanish: Has presented A Chorus Line, Bent, Cinderella, Come Blow Your Horn
  • www.teatrodepanama.com

 

 

19) Pick out your fish while it is still flopping at The Mercado de Mariscos (The Seafood Market). Take it upstairs and they will cook it for you! The restaurant is above the fish market. It is not  a fancy restaurant, but it has  the best, freshest, cheapest fish in all of Panama. Savor grilled garlic scallops, ceviche (raw shrimp marinated in lemon juice) grilled octopus or my favorite - corvina (whole grilled sea bass). Near the west end of  Avenida Balboa just before you enter Casco Viejo, on the water. 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Seven days a week. No phone. No reservations  needed. Free parking.

 

20) Go bar hopping on Calle Uruguay. Check The Visitor, Panama's twice-monthly English tourist newspaper for all of the hottest clubs and latest events.

 

 

 

21) Sip some fine Ron Abuelo 7 year-old Panamanian rum at the elegant Bristol Hotel lounge, one of the Leading Small Hotels of the World. Cigars, elegant restaurant. Bella Vista in the Bancaria area.

 

 

 

22) Jog on the special causeway jogging paths to the Punta Culebra Marine Exhibition Center. A small marine museum run by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute it has six aquariums of tropical fish including  one of giant lobsters. A children's 'touching pool”  encourages kids to touch sea cucumbers, starfish, and sea urchins. Both Caribbean and Pacific coral and marine life exhibits and a telescope to watch ships offshore  waiting to enter the canal. A chart helps identify the different types of ships. Isla Naos on the Amador causeway, next to Mi Ranchito restaurant. $2 adults, 0.50 cents for kids under 12, $1 seniors. Open afternoons  Tues. - Friday. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sat/Sun. www.stri.com Tel: 212- 8793

 

23) Play darts at The Londoner Pub on Calle Uruguay, just one block from Avenida Balboa. 5 P.M. onwards. Tel: 214-4883

 

24) Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cerro Ancon. Tel: 262- 8012. To really discover contemporary Panamanian artists, visit the Imagen Gallery Tel: 226- 2670, the Habitante Gallery Tel: 264- 6470 and the  Arteconsult Galeria Tel: 269- 1523 as well.

 

25) Wrestle a crocodile purse from the only legal, C.I.T.E.S - approved crocodile farming boutique in Panama - the Galaria Drilo on the Amador Causeway. Jewelry, leather goods. Flamenco Island, Amador, site 12, rear of  the terminal. E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Tel: 314- 0961

 

26) Have a date in your hotel room. Order a bottle of wine, pick out a great movie on TV and order Domino's Pizza! Just like at home. If you are near Calle 50 call Domino's: 263-7377, Bella Vista district: 225- 0000, or in  Dorado: 236- 0777.

 

27) Take a Ride on The Wild Side - jump on a “Diablo Rojo” the 'Red Devil' - former US school buses with flashing lights, disco mirror balls, blaring music, colourful air-brushed paintings all over the exterior and a driver  that seems more disc-jockey than driver. It does not matter where you go - it's how long can you stay on that counts. Just put out your arm to flag one  down - don't be surprised if they do a full “u - turn” to pick you  up, cutting off all other traffic  and nearly causing a dozen accidents. Why do you think they are called “Red Devils”?

A three-hour tour is available for $20 from La Chiva Parrandera featuring an open bar, music, lights, and a city tour.

 

  • E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: 269- 8500

 

 

28) Try your luck - buy a lottery ticket from one of the 10,000 lottery ticket vendors. Started in 1882 (the current version began in 1919) draws are held every Sunday and Wednesday at 1 p.m., and broadcast live on TV and  radio (ever wonder why you cant' find a waiter around 1 o'clock?) Anyone can stop by and watch the drawings live which are held on a stage at the back of a shed on Ave. Peru and Ave. Cuba. between Calle 31 and  Calle 32. The ritual is as solemn as a church service with the balls rocked back and forth in a steel cage. Thousands gather to watch in silence as twelve balls are drawn. All this for a grand prize of $2,000!

 

29) Rent a bicycle built for two and ride the entire length of the Amador Causeway. Have lunch at one of the great waterfront restaurants on the Causeway (For a taste of home try Bennigan's) and shop at the large Duty  Free Store at the very end. Bicicietas Moses Amador Causeway  Tel: 211- 2579

 

30) Play tennis - The Adan Gordon swimming pool in front of the Lottery Building on Avenida  Cuba in Panama City has courts available for public use. Tel: 500-5320

 

31) Watch a folkloric dance show over dinner: Restaurante Bar Tinajas, Shows on Tues., Thurs. Fri.  and Saturdays 9 P.M. $5 cover charge. Calle 51, just off Ave. Frederico Boyd in the Bella Vista district. Fantastic food - try  the “ plato tipico” specials ($12).

 

 

 

32) Take an air conditioned bus from La Gran Terminal to El Valley. Adults $3.50 one way/$7.00 return, 2.5 hours. Every  30 minutes 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Ask for center of the bus seats (for safety, not near the front, or too  near the rear washrooms - busy) Spend the day at the Sunday market, eat at Pinnochio's and have a cappachino at Gourmet Coffee. Bus:

 

 

 

Tell them Roberto Chocolate sent you!

 


 

 

33-44: Casco Viejo

 

33) Visit Casco Viejo (aka Casco Antiguo, aka San Felipe) the new location of the burned capital, built in 1673. This new location, at the foot of a large hill and with a shallow water-covered rock shelf surrounding it was  much easier to defend. With its 17th and 18th century Spanish colonial architecture and wrought iron railings, it looks and feels a lot like New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. See the French Quarter where cannons  fired upon Colombian warships in 1903 which signaled the independence of Panama from Gran Colombia. Tourist police on motorcycles make sure you stay within the safe areas. This area is a MUST SEE!

Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo photo courtesy phototakeout.com

34) Have dinner in a dungeon - Las Bovedas in The French Quarter - built into the wall of the city's fortress. Down below  was the torture chamber where prisoners were chained up to their necks and when the tide came  in, crustaceans would feast on their exposed flesh. Their screams of agony helped many other prisoners chained up above in the dungeons see the evil of their ways and confess - to anything. The high arched brick  dungeons are now a bar and quaint restaurant.

 

  • Entrées $7 - $14.
  • Live Jazz Fri./St. 9 p.m. - 1 a.m.
  • Closed Sundays.
  • Otherwise open 5:30  p.m. - 1. a.m.
  • Tel: 228- 8068

 

 

35) See the Golden Alter in Iglesia San Jose - carved from mahogany and covered two fingers thick with gold, it was hidden from Henry Morgan's pirates by a clever Augustine priest who painted the massive two-story  alter with black oil to look as though it was unfinished wood. Despite the fact that Morgan sacked the city for over twenty days and burned most of the existing buildings, the alter survived untouched. It was moved to  it's present location when the City of Panama was relocated in 1673. This is one of the main tourist attractions of Panama. On Ave A between Calle 8 and Calle 9,

 

  • Open 7 am - noon, 2 p.m. - 8 p.m. Mon. - Sat.
  • 5 am  - 8 p.m. Sun.
  • No Phone.

 

 

36) Watch the Pollera de Gala (the national woman's folkloric dress) being hand sewn in La Casa de la Pollera, across the  street from the Golden Arch. These dresses made of fine Irish linens and hand- sewn sequins take  thousands of hours and cost many thousands of dollars to make. On Av A and Calle 8.

 

  • Open 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
  • Tel: 228- 8671/223-5375

 

 

37) Marvel at the forty foot flat arch built without a keystone in 1756 that seems to defy gravity. Lobbyists pushing for the  canal to be built in Panama sent a stamp showing an exploding volcano in Nicaragua to every  member of the US Congress and Senate along with a sketch of the arch still standing after hundreds of years to demonstrate how stable Panama was - and the ploy worked. Despite two devastating fires and the  almost total collapse of the building the arch stood for over 240 years. Left to the elements, in 2003 the arch collapsed but has since been restored. $0 .75 cent visitors fee. Iglesia de Santo Domingo. Ave A. next to the  Colonial Art Museum. No Phone.

 

38) Visit the Canal Museum (Officially known as the Museo del Canal Interoceanico) housed in the former Great Hotel on Plaza de la Independencia. The hotel was built in 1875. The Museum exhibits include a  fascinating history of one of the world's marvels of engineering and a terrific history of The Isthmus. The interior artwork is worth seeing on its own, as is the coin and stamp collection upstairs. Get the English audio guide for $5 as everything is in Spanish. Av Central between Calle 5 and Calle 6.

 

  • Open 9:30 am - 5:30 Tues. - Sun., closed Mondays.
  • $2 adults, $0.75 students with valid ID.
  • Tel: 211-1995/211- 1649

 

 

39) Sail off into the sunset:

 

  • Panama Yacht Adventures vessels from 30 feet to 100 feet, sail and power. 
    • Web: www.panamayachtadventures.com
    • E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    • Tel: 263- 2673/ 6614- 0660
  • The Panama Yacht Club 
    • Tel: 213-3087/ 6616- 2408
  • Club de Yates y Pesca 
    • Tel: 227- 0145 
  • The Balboa Yacht Club 
    • Tel: 228-5794
  • Flamenco Yacht Club at the end of the Amador causeway 
    • Tel: 314- 0665
  • Panama Sailing School. 
    • Las Brisas on the Amador Causeway - sailing lessons or a daily sunset and champagne cruise (6 people $450, 8 people $650) or try the Moonlight Madness cruise (6 people $500, 8 people $700)
    • Web: www.panamasailingschool.com
    • Tel: 314- 3393, Cell (English): 6413 - 6113

 

40) Sneak onto the secret roof garden of The National Theatre. Bribe your way back stage and climb the windy stairs up above the lights to the secret roof garden with a spectacular view of the entire City of Panama.  Inside the lobby, gaze  up at the Sistine Chapel-like paintings on the ceiling of the spectacular National Theater opened in 1908 . Hear a  concert by The National Symphony, see a performance by The National Ballet  or get swept away by Madame Butterfly by The National Opera. Rock and pop concerts, modern dance, and jazz music are all performed here. (It also has the only ATM in Casco Viejo). Between Ave B and 3rd Street

 

41) Say hello to the President of Panama at Presidential Palace of the Herons, the oldest building in Casco Viejo built in 1673. Ave Eloy Alfaro (on the waterfront) and Calle 6. (NOTE: Tours on Sundays only). If the guards  point guns at you  is best to leave them be, as the President might be busy at the moment - instead, just shop the shops, try the great restaurants, or visit the magnificent cathedrals in the area. DO NOT tell them  Roberto Chocolate sent you!

 

42) Pick up a gourmet lunch to go from Super Gourmet in Casco Viejo. Avenida A and Calle 6 . Imported cheeses, fine wines, imported beers, cigars, a savory lunch for under $10

 

  • Tel: 212-3487

 

 

43) Sip Italian coffee and snack on sinfully good cheesecake, listen to the expat gossip at Caffe Per Due Ave A, Casco Viejo. Tues. - Sun (closed Mondays) 8:30 A.M. - 10 P.M.

 

  • E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: 6512- 9311

 

 

44) Let the good times roll at the annual Jazz Festival in Casco Viejo in January, but enjoy outdoor concerts in the square all year long. Just follow the music. Enjoy outdoor patio restaurants and bars. Las Bovedas (French  Quarter, Casco Viejo) has live jazz in the bar

 

  • Tel: 228 - 8068

 

 

Tell them Roberto Chocolate sent you!

 


45-53: Near Panama City

 

45) Board The Calypso Queen to Isla Toboga for brunch. This 45 minute, 12 nautical mile trip is half the fun - it cruises past the southern entrance to the Panama Canal and under the 'Bridge of The Americas' on it's way  to 'The Flower Island'. You may see dolphins and if you are very lucky, humpback whales on the way. There are no cars on this floral paradise. The church on the island claims to be the second oldest church in the  Western Hemisphere (the town was founded in 1524). For info on places to eat or stay on Isla Tobago www.tabago.panamanow.com

 

 

  • The Calypso Queen departs from Isla Naos beside the Marine Exhibition Center on the Amador Causeway (8:00 a.m. - 3 p.m. Mon's./Wed's/Fri's, and 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sat./Sun./Holidays.
  • $10 adult, $7 kids and  pensionados (retirees)
  • Tel: 314- 1730/ 390- 2403

 

 

46) Cruise the Panama Canal with:

 

  • Panama Marine Adventures -  A partial transit is 4 - 5 hours, departs Flamenco Yacht Club at 10 A.M. Partial transit cost is $115 for adults, $65 for children under 12. Full transit (8 - 9 hours with return transport back to Panama City provided) $165 and $75 for under 12 years. 300 passengers, two air conditioned decks, open viewing decks, souvenir shop, lunch included (chicken, pasta, salad and brownie, free water and soda). Cash bar.  Go on a Thursday or Friday when it is less crowded. 
  • Panama Bay and Canal Tours. 3 boats holding 105 or 132 passengers or the flagship Fantasia del Mar holding 500 passengers. They were the first company to do canal tours. Their prices and services are the same as Panama Marine except they have a discount for Panamanians. 

 

47) Have lunch at Miaflores Locks terrace restaurant while you watch the ships transit the canal, pulled by four electric locomotives called 'mules'. Restaurant (pretty good) operated by the El Panama Hotel. Make a  reservation in advance to sit by the railing so you  can get an unobstructed view during your meal. The entire one mile long dock is lit up for  night-time viewing as well. Entrees $7 - $20. Located on the third floor of  the four-story Visitors Center. Museum

 

  • Entry fee: adults $10, students $5 (with valid I.D.)
  • Open 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
  • www.pancanal.com
  • Tel: 276-8325.

 

 

48) Surf's up! Surf or go kite sailing in Punta Chame on the Pacific beaches near Panama City.

 

  • Tel: 6674- 7772.

 

Other great surfing destinations:

 

 

 

49) Take your significant other to a push/pull. These “motels” are drive-in sex hotels where you pull up, put money in a drawer, and when the doors open you drive into and park in what looks like a self-storage unit. The  door to your unit closes and there is a hotel room inside. When you are ready to leave you get back in your car, push the button to open your unit and pull up to the gate and beep your horn to have the exit gates  opened, never having seen a human being. Bring your own sheets. With names like “Fantasia” or “La Amore”, these love-nests are usually located right off a highway and identified by a heart in either the logo or in the name.

 

50) Go 'glow in the dark” bowling Saturday nights at Bolos El Dorado $5-$600 a game, all night $6 after 9 P.M. on Sat. Super Centro El Dorado, Via Ricardo J. Alfredo.

 

  • E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: 260- 2511/  260- 7868

 

 

51) Bet on the ponies: Presidente Remon Racetrack has horse racing every Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays. Look for the signs for The Hippodrome on Juan Diaz.

 

  • E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: 300 -  2673/ 300 - 2674

 

 

52) Play on the ponies - Polo in Panama! The Hacienda Country Club has just completed a full equestrian facility just 20 minutes from The City. Tucked away in the cool hills of Cerro Azul, season riders and beginners  alike can enjoy riding  lessons, practice show jumping or play polo. The Panamanian Polo Association holds Saturday tournaments from  January to April. International polo tournament are being planned.

 

 

 

53) Visit the wild monkeys and crocodiles on the Gatun Safari Tour. This is not a hokey jungle boat cruise - listen when they tell you not to hold the whole bag of treats out to the monkeys. We saw a tourist get his hat taken  and almost lost his glasses and his camera when he ignored the tour guide! Crocodile sightings, typical local lunch, trek to a waterfall, kayaks, fishing, nature walk, transport to and from your hotel all included.  Adventuras 2000

 

  • Web: www.adventuras2000.com
  • E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: 227- 2000.

 

 

Tell them Roberto Chocolate sent you!

 


54-56: Kuna Yala Comarca

 

54) Negotiate for handicrafts directly from the Kuna. (they use coconuts as currency - and by law, anyone caught stealing a coconut must go to jail, however only US dollars are accepted for souvenirs) Fly into Punta Chico  on Air Panama or Areoperlas Regional. Sapibenega Lodge a thatched roof cabins in an authentic Kuna village, private bathrooms, wood  floors, fresh water, fans, balconies with hammocks, two restaurants serving  fresh seafood, white sand beaches, tribal  dance presentations.

 

  • $140/per person double in high season.
  • Web: www.sapibenga.com
  • Tel: 215- 1406/ cell: 6676-5548

 

 

55) Charter a boat - call the vessel 'Cheers' Tel: 6619-6128, or 'La Garota Schooner' Tel: 314- 1288 or the San Blas Sailing Corp. Tel: 314- 1800 or the ultimate: charter a Mega Yacht. Contact Captain/owner Andres Navarro  Panama Yacht Charters. $6,500 per day for a 92 foot Mega Yacht with six private staterooms each with it's own head (bathroom), and includes all crew, marina fees, fishing equipment, ice and all fuel costs.

 

  • Web: www.panamayachtadventures.com
  • Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: 263- 2673/ Cell: 6614- 0660

 

 

56) Discover why a doomed settlement in Panama forced Scotland to give up its dream of independence and join the UK.  In 1698, an ambitious entrepreneur Scot William Paterson convinced the Scottish parliament to  fund the colony of “New Edinburgh”. They built Fort Saint Andrew on Caledonia Bay on the Darien coast (Now part of Comarca Kuna Yala). The colonists were completely unprepared for life in a tropical jungle.  Disease, hostile Indians, mosquitos, in-fighting and the heat were too much and the colony was abandoned a year later. Despite repeated attempts to re-colonize, shipwrecks, war and disease forced the now debt-ridden Scotland to abandon it's dreams of an empire and join England, forming the United Kingdom in 1707.

 

 

 


57-58: Province of Darien

 

57) Set a deep sea fishing record at the Tropic Star Lodge, Bahia Pina. Named by the magazine The Robb Report as the best fishing installation in the world. Over 250 world records have been set from this lodge. The  Black, blue and stripped Marlin as well as sailfish are caught year-round. Dorado or Mahi Mahi are caught April - June. Red snapper, grouper, pompano and mullet are caught closer to shore. Recently tarpons have  come through the canal and have been caught here. Visits to Indian Villages can be arranged. www.tropicstar.com, Tel: 232- 8375/ 232- 8377

 

58) Visit the five hundred year old Spanish forts that guarded the famous gold mines of Cana on The Turia (Devil's) River in the Darien Province. Tours are run by the Tourist Cooperative in La Palma. 10 A.M. flights,  Mondays and Fridays  on Air Panama or 10:25 A.M. flights Mon's., Wed's. and Fri.'s on Areoperlas Regional from Albrook Airport to La  Palma. Approx. $114 USD.

 

Or Fenton Travel, www.fentontravels.com e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 227- 5215/ Cell: 6786- 1394

 

Tell them Roberto Chocolate sent you!

 


59-65: Province of Colon

 

59) Take the historic one-hour train from the Pacific to the Atlantic (train first built in 1850) from Panama City (departs 7:15 a.m) to Colon (return departs 5:15 P..M. ). Visit the second largest Free Trade Zone in the  world (second only to  Hong Kong) Over 2,000 companies on 400 hectares, it is the largest cargo storage and distribution center in The  Americas. Over $11 billion in imports/exports and over 250,00 visitors go  through The Free Trade Zone each year - primarily wholesale. The Zona Libre is not geared for consumer shopping. You need a permit to enter and goods must be shipped to the airport (at a charge) arriving at the  airport on your departure date. Best to go to Colon 2000, the smaller duty free mall geared for cruise ship shoppers and tourists. The road to Colon is being rebuilt - it is great for 1/3 of the way - terrible after that.

 

60) Scuba dive Portobello. About 100 km from Panama City. Turn right at the Rey Supermarket in Sabanitas. DO NOT go into Colon - unless on a tour. It is dangerous for tourists. Try to find Sir Frances Drake's lead-  lined coffin, buried at sea on Jan. 28, 1596, supposedly filled with treasure. Pieces of eight, shipwrecks and plunging rock walls are all here to be discovered. Scuba Panama offers diving, dining and sleeping cabins,  equipment rentals, dive classes and fishing. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: In Panama: 261-4064/261-3841. In Portobello: 448- 2147

 

OR for a Caribbean taste, continue on to Isla Grande - stay at the Bananas Village Resort. ($70 - $100) www.bananasresort.com E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 263- 9510, 263- 9766

Boats ($4) from shore run all day into the early evening. Pay the $4 parking, but don't leave anything in your car.

 

61) Visit the Church and Museum of The Black Christ. Iglasia del San Felipe, built 1814 (bell tower finished 1945 - welcome to the Caribbean where EVERYTHING is slower paced) Life-sized effigy of the nazarene of  Portobello - better know as  The Black Christ. The alter is adorned with golden images of utensils used in the crucifixion - nails, instruments of torture, and the dice Roman soldiers threw to determine who won his  robes. Behind the church is Museo del Cristo Negro de Portobello which displays 63 robes used in the festival, some of which are over one hundred years old.$1 adults, .25 cents children 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Mon. - Fri.  8:30 - 3 p.m./ Saturdays and Sundays.

 

62) Try fresh-water fly fishing on Gatun Lake contact John Shyne, Panama Yacht Tours. trips to San Blas, Isla Coiba, Bahia Pina and The Pearl Islands available. Office: Calle D off Via Veneto opposite The Expats  Center. E-Mail: www.panamayachtours.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 263- 5044/Cell: 6614-1114

 

63) Sleep with the birds and the monkeys at the Canopy Tower, a former radar station in the middle of the Soberania National Park. Fourth floor observation lounge/restaurant/library, six double rooms with hot water  ($150 for one bed with shared bathroom, $195- $220 per person/per night for suites + 5% tax. $300 deposit required) Gift shop. Meals and bird tour included. Watch ships pass by on the canal, and giant blue  iridescent Morpho butterflies flutter past your open windows. National Geographic's Top 50 Eco-Lodges in the World. www.canopytower.com

E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 264-5720/1 800 930- 3397

 

64) Stand where the pirates Francis Drake, Henry Morgan and Joseph Bradley all stood - on the top of the remains of Fort Lorenzo at the mouth of the Chagras River near Colon. Over 40 cannons, spectacular views.  Don't forget to stop at the lights on the swing bridge over the canal - they stop the cars to make way for the ships to pass into the canal! $5.00 entrance fee per car. Excellent roads. Worth the visit.

 

65) Walk the former Camino de Cruces trail, built in 1527 and paved with flat stones. It included a water route from Venta de Cruces to Fort Lorenzo. Over 400,000 49'ers used this route on their way to the California  Gold Rush. Prior to the creation of this trail, they used the Camino Real (the royal road) from Portobello to Panama City, this dirt mule trail was so rough that passengers carrying gold and silver from Peru and Pearls  from the Pearl Islands had to climb on their hands and knees. Described as a narrow, rugged and unprotected trail. This pirate and bandido infested forrest held so many dangers that few made the trip twice.

 

Tell them Roberto Chocolate sent you!

 


66-70: Province of Cocle (pronounced ko-klay)

 

66) Go Golfing:

 

  • Coronado - 83 miles west of Panama City 18 hole par 72 (7,116 yards pro, 6637 mens, 5535 yards women) plus 9 hole par 3 with night lights. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • The Summit Golf & Resort - Jeffery Meyers designed course overlooking the Panama Canal semi-private, 18 championship holes par 72 with club house, restaurant and pro shop (6,626 yards)
  • Mantaraya Golf Club at The Royal Decameron Beach Resort, Costa Blanca, an 18 hole par 71 with driving range, practice range and pro shop. www.decameron.com
  • Vista Mar - newest course in Panama, near the town of San Carlos. 11 holes now completed, an excellent restaurant  open to the public, a clubhouse, a pro shop and gorgeous meditation gardens. Located off the     highway on the Pacific Ocean just between San Carlos and Lago Mar.

 

67) Ride with the wind. Go horseback riding - The Coronado Equestrian Club is one of the best riding clubs in The Americas. Paso, Colombian or Andalusian riding. Shows throughout the year. Restaurant.  www.coronadofairways.com

 

68) Eat lobster and sing karaoke on the beach at Woody’s Bar and Grill, Farallon, just down the beach from The Royal Decameron Beach Resort. Owned/run by a former Canadian Air Force couple (Monique is a  Newfie). House special: Lobster tails, three huge shrimp, salad $30. Only place in Panama to get poutine and watch hockey. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 993-2201/ 6480- 0618

 

69) Dance the meringue with a local: Bar Renacer, right on the main highway in Penenome, Cocle Province, open-air, thatched hut roof, good food, huge dance floor, live bands on weekends. Very friendly patrons. Cheap  bar prices and good, local food. Try the Yucca fritas (deep-fried yucca).

 

70) Stop in (or call) to order “Paella for Two” at least two hours ahead of time at Los Camisones Restaurant, Kilometer 104, which is 10 kilometers east of Santa Clara on the north side of the Pan- American highway, west  of El Higo. A long  time favorite of middle-class Panamanians, expats and tourists alike. This traditional family-style restaurant housed in a bohio (thatched roof) buildings serves great food in a very pleasant  atmosphere. The pepper steak is excellent, as is the pago (snapper) al ajillo (cooked in garlic). Ask what the fish of the day is - they buy fresh from local fisherman every day. Finish with flaming crepes a-la-mode.  Mile marker 104 kilometers. 7 kilometers past the El Valley turn off. Open 11 a.m. - “until the last client leaves” Tel: 993- 3622

 


71-74: El Valle de Anton

 

71) Negotiate with the Kuna Indian artists at the famous Sunday Market in El Valle. Get there before the noon buses from Panama City pack the place and drive up prices. Bring a sweater - it gets cool in the mountains  (20 - 26 degrees Celsius when the costal temperatures soar over 35 C (95F). 95 kilometers west of Panama City to the well-marked turn-off, 28 kilometers up the winding, paved mountain road. Have an expresso at  the Gourmet Coffee shop at the entrance to the town.

 

72) Treat yourself to a massage, thermal soak or anti-aging mud bath at the Los Mandarinos Spa in the Le Casa de Lourdes Inn - Massages $40 for 30 minutes, 415 for a thermal soak (free to guests of the hotel) and mud  wraps $35 - $40.  Rooms at the Inn $125 - $205 for a suite (not per person - per room plus 10% tourist tax. Spa, restaurant, Inn. www.losmanarinos.com, E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 983-6645

 

73) Zip over El Chorro Macho waterfall - twice! on the Canopy Adventure in El Valley. A vigorous 30 - 45 minute hike to the first launch pad, then zip down jungle tops past three toed sloth, birds and other wildlife. Go  where Muriel Hemingway, Tarzan's grandson and the President of Panama have gone - and lived to talk about it. 1.5 hours, best to go during the weekdays when it is not so crowded. $50 plus 5% tax, ($125 + tax from  Panama City with lunch and transport provided) Bring long pants, sneakers, towel and extra shirt (you will want to swim in the waterfall) NOTE: 200 pound weight limit. www.canopylodge.com

E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Panama City Office. Tel: 264-5720/263-2784. El Valley Tel: 983-6547/612-9176

 

74) In El Valle (all “V”'s in Spanish are pronounced as “B”'s - so ask for “El Bi yea”). Take a walking tour. It is well worth  it to hire a guide (.50 cents an hour) to take you to see the square trees, the petroglyphs  (petroglifos), the painted stones, the waterfalls, the hot springs, While in El Valley visit El Nispero, the animal refuge with 100 species of animals and 180 different species of plants and trees, including a golden frog  (poisonous), howler monkeys and parrots and toucans, crocodiles and turtles. 1.3 km off the main street - look for the signs. $2.00 adults, $1.00 kids, foreigners $4.00 (get used to it - to Panamanians, you ARE rich).  Also visit the small local museum (open Sundays 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. $0.50 cents admission), and St. Joseph's, the quaint local church, and have lunch while the buses unload their herds of tourists - both Panamanians  escaping the heat and humidity of the City and foreigners.

 

Tell them Roberto Chocolate sent you!

 


75-80: Province of Veraguas

 

75) Stay on a floating hotel with Cebaco Bay Sportfishing Club's floating hotel/fishing vessel. This 115 foot mother-ship uses two other vessels to do the fishing, one a 31 foot and the other a 47 footer.

E:mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Tel: 316- 4027

 

76) Swim with the dolphins off Isla Iguana on the Azuero Peninsula near Pedasi. Over 40 hectares of protected coral reefs, over 4,800 years old. Over 200 different fish species, four different turtle types, dolphins, and  humpback whales. White sand beaches, clear waters, and one of the largest bird nesting sites in Panama. Famous for it's proliferation of iguanas the site is operated by a cooperative from the town of Pedasi. Tel: 883- 2165

 

77) Swim in a crystal-clear mountain lake. Listen to the cool breezes blowing through the pines or fish the tilapia-stocked waters of La Laguna Lake inside  Cope National Park. Lounge in the hot springs, swim in the  breathtaking  waterfalls or tour a coffee plantation in the spectacular mountain town La Yeguada. Start in Santiago. Take the mountain highway past Colobre. Ask where the road to La Yeguada begins. NOTE: 4 x 4  required on this very rough road, but the views and serenity of this lake in the mountains is worth  it.

 

78) Discover gold pre-Colombian artifacts along the river banks in Veraguas Province. One of the mysteries of Panama is where did the indigenous people smelt their gold? Many gold artifacts have been discovered, but  the actual smelting facilities have never been found. Almost any river in  Veraguas has the potential to have gold artifacts, especially more remote areas that have not been combed through by treasure hunters.

 

79) Scuba dive with manta rays, eagle rays, whale sharks and schools of tropical fish with www.scubacoiba.com or www.solymarpanama.com or www.santacatalinaboattours.com

 

80) Go to prison. Tour the former Devil's Island-style penal colony on Coiba Island. This almost 15,000 hectare marine park encompasses two dozen islands and is a refuge of all kinds of wildlife including howler monkeys,  leatherback turtles, and tiger-herons. It has the second-largest coral reef in the eastern Pacific ocean. The waters are filled with really big fish - orcas, dolphins, whale sharks, manta rays, barracuda, amber-jacks, big  snappers, three different types of marlin, moray eels, white-tipped, hammerhead and tiger sharks. Sharks and mantas are especially common. In fact, prisoners were not locked up at night - instead the guards locked  themselves inside with their guns. The shark infested waters and surrounding jungles kept the  prisoners from straying too far. Diving here has been described as a cross between Galapagos Islands and Coco islands  in Costa rica. Go through the town of Horconcitos which is 40 kilometers south of David. From here there is a great, newly paved road to Boca Chica and a short fishing boat ride ($1/per person) to Isla Boca Brava.  Famous for it’s scuba diving and fishing, this is the lobster capital of Panama. ($5 for a fresh lobster from the fishermen at Playa Hermosa). The other great thing about this area is the dry season starts earlier here  than anywhere else in Panama - around November and ends at the same time in April. Panama Big Game Fishing Club. www.panamabiggamefishingclub.com, E-Mail:   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 683- 0359  Toll Free USA (866) 281- 1225

 


81: Province of Herrera

 

81) Ride through the desert on a horse with no name. Sarigua Desert near the city of Chitre and the town of Parita in the  Herrera Province. Stop at the look-out tower to see the 20,000 acre desert in the distance. This  was the site of the oldest indigenous Indian village in Panama (9,500 - 7,000 BC). The Smithsonian is conducting archeological digs to unearth indigenous pottery and stone artifacts.

 


82-84: Province of Los Santos

 

82) Sit in the square and share a gelato (ice cream) in the prettiest town in Panama - Pedasi. The center square with it's ornate iron fences, flowers and walkways is impeccably kept and the towns people are some of the  friendliest in Latin America. The road to Pedasi is very well maintained and this drive through cattle country is a must-do. Stay in either the Pension Moscoso (19 rooms $16 - $24) Tel: 995-2203 OR Residencial  Pedasi (17 rooms with A/C $16 - $40) Tel: 995-2322

 

83) Celebrate Mardi Gras in Las Tablas. Festivities begin on Fat Tuesday. Book your hotel well in advance, and do not drink and drive. There is a zero-tolerance policy in Panama - you are arrested and jailed if you say you  had ONE BEER. Do not admit drinking even ONE drink or they will have no choice but to arrest you. Take a cab. Penenome and Panama City also have spectacular festivities. Penenome's parade takes place in the  river!

 

84) Catch a tuna off the tuna coast: Pedasi Fishing, Azuero Peninsula www.pedasifishing.com E) Caribbean coast try these E-Mails: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or www.panamacraise.com.pa, or   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Tell them Roberto Chocolate sent you!

 


85: Ngobe Bugle Comarca

 

85) Stay in an authentic Embera village. Besiko, Comarca Gnoble Bugle, north from Chiriqui Province. Organization Cultural Artisano de Besiko, , www.destinobesiko.com E-Mial: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 721- 1379,  316- 1355 Cell: 6672- 4819

 


86-92: Province of Chiriqui

(Believed to be an Indian name meaning “Valley of the Moon”)

 

86) Go white water rafting on the Rio Grande River in Chiriqui or on the Chiriqui Viejo River with A) Panama Rafters. Half-Day trips $75 plus 5% tax, Full Day $90 plus tax. Lunch, towels and juices/water included.  Class II - Class V  rapids. www.panamarafters.com.Tel: 720- 2712 or B) The Chiriqui River Rafting Company - a 2 hour beginner trip  (Class II + III rapids) with lunch $85, up to a 4 hour advanced Class III + IV  rapids: $105. www.panama-rafting.com  Tel: 720 - 1505 C) Panama Explorer Club on the Rio Grande Tel: 215- 2330

 

87) Savor the most expensive coffee in the world! Grown in Hacienda Esmeralda near Boquete, their 'Geisha' coffee smashed the world record in 2007 selling for an amazing $300,000 a pound! Panama took home more  coffee awards this year than any other country. You don't have to pay that much to enjoy a good cup. Visit Cafe Ruiz in Bouquete (at the end of town) It has great views of the entire valley. Bouquete Safaris Tours offer  a half-day Wildlife Exploration and El Poco - Coffee farm tour with a cupping (like a wine tasting). 8 a.m. OR 1:30 pick-up at your hotel. Includes water, juice snack, park fees and hotel pick-up. $58 per person, Min. 2  people, www.bouquetemountainsafaritours.com. E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 6627- 8829, 6613- 1472

 

Our favorite place to stay is Boquete Garden Inn and B + B. Canadians Jay (from England via Toronto) and his charming wife Susan have recently redecorated this already lovely spot right on the river. RATES $87 -  $99 (plus an additional $15 for a third person) includes a wonderful fresh fruit and cereal breakfast. Great bar out back, beautifully designed rooms - a five star at three star prices. www.bouquetegardeninn.com E- Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 720 - 2376, Cell: 6672- 4958

 

Take in the flower and coffee festival in Boquete January 8th - 18th. 44 gardens, thousands of different flowers and plants for sale. Locally grown, international award-winning coffees.

 

88) Get wet - go kayaking, white water rafting, rappel down a waterfall and climb up a cliff, climb a mountain or ride a mountain bike with Panama Rafting. 2 - 4 hour trips from beginner to advanced, $85 - $105  www/panama-rafting.com E-Mail: rafting@panama-rafting.comTel: 720 - 1505 OR: Adventuras panama 4100 - $125 per person, www.adventuraspanama.com, E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 260 - 0044,  Cell: 6679 - 4404

 

OR: Extreme Adventures Tel: 236- 8146

 

89) Pick fresh strawberries in Boquete. The name Boquete means “a path between two mountains” Its perpetual spring-like temperatures led A.A.R.P. to name Bouquete the number one place to retire in the world and  Fortune Magazine rated it as one of the Top 5 places in the world to retire outside the USA in 2005. The town is wall to wall expatriates with jazz clubs, coffee shops, fine dining and even a Subway.

 

90) Ride horses bareback on the beach Las Lajas, one of the most spectacular beaches in Panama. 75 km east of David, 35 km east of Horconcitos at El Cruce - look for the elaborate lit- up gates at the highway.

 

91) Visit Volcan, see Vulcan Baru and both the Pacific and the Caribbean Oceans at one time. Witness the cloud forest, see  the breathtaking beauty of the sweeping valleys below. Continue past David on the Tans- American Highway to  Conception. Turn right (north) to Vulcan and follow the signs. On the way, 15 km north of Conception, stop at Cuesta de Piedra at the Alan Herr lookout (get a frozen yogurt). In town, if you call  Elvia Caballero (Cell: 6476- 8448) she might get you special permit to see the spectacular Macho de Monte waterfalls.

 

92) Find the Painted Stone under the bridge at Caldera, but first you must get to Jardin La Fontuna and ask permission. Your reward will be secret gardens, a pristine river, waterfalls and pre-Columbian petroglyphs.  Under the bridge you  will find four ponds with temperatures that range from 41 to 50 degrees centigrade. Do not use soap in the ponds, but bring a towel! To get there, take the road towards Boquete. There is a sign  indicating the detour to the right. Past a  resort called Rancho de Calderas, at 7.6 kilometeras you will reach the Caldera River. At 11.1 kilometers you will reach  the town of Caldera. Use a 4 x 4. The road is very rough.  Leave your car parked on the other side of the bridge. Walk four or five hundred meters. There is a door - walk through the door until you find the caretakers house. Pay the $1 per person.

 

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93-94: Province of Bocas del Toro

 

93) Fly to Bocas del Toro for a Caribbean weekend. Round trip $120 - $145. Air Panama or Areoperlas Regional (see  resource section for airline telephone numbers)

 

94) Dive off the dock of your own thatched hut into clear, turquoise-green waters. Fish, snorkel, swim or relax in the  Caribbean ambience and atmosphere.

 

 

  • Punta Caracol Aqua-Hotel, one of The Most Romantic Hotel of The World. 5 thatched huts, 3 suites and one master suite, all on stilts over the crystal clear aqua-green water. Low season $344/High $430 per couple,   transport to the hotel from the airport, breakfast, welcoming cocktail, kayak, snorkeling equipment, tea and biscuits in the afternoon and candlelight dinner overlooking the water. Drinks/tips/tours/ taxes NOT   included. 100% payment to reserve. Visa/MC/AMEX www.puntacaracol.com E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 757- 9718 Cell: 6612- 1088 OR
  • Stay at Hotel Macca Bite in Boca del Toro. 11 two-story cabins with air conditioning and private baths on Bastimentos, (the name means “to get supplies” in Spanish after Christopher Columbus re-stocked here in 1502) $220 per couple per night includes breakfast and dinner, cayuco boat ride, basic snorkeling gear, help coordinating tours. Drinks/tips/taxes/tours and transport to hotel NOT included.  www.hotelmaccabite.com E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 264-5255/264-5216

 

 

NOTE: On our trip, it rained the entire day and night - and this was during the dry season. Bring bug spray for 'no-seeums”.

 

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95-98: Perl Islands

 

95) Watch magnificent humpback whales glide by and breach off Isla Contradora with Captain Andy of Panama Yacht Adventures www.panamayachtadventures.com Tel: 263- 2673.

 

96) Go spear fishing off the Pearl Islands with Hacienda del Mar on San Jose Island www.haceindadelmar.net

 

97) Charter a private jet, sneak off to the powdery white sands of the island where the TV show “Survivor” was filmed and the Shaw of Iran spent his exile - Isla Contradora - the Counting house - where the pearls were  counted and logged before being shipped off to Spain. Buy her some pearls, then pop over to San Jose Island, a private island with one single luxury resort - Hacienda del Mar. Reserve a waterfront table for drinks  and dinner, walk on the beach and watch the sunset together before jetting back home. Hacienda del Mar resort Tel: 269- 1787/ 269- 6634. Private jets - SKY  MAXX Corp., at Albrook Airport. Hangar 4-D.  www.maplex.com Tel: 315- 0344

 

98) Suntan nude on a deserted beach in The Pearl Islands (Playa de las Suecas = Swedish woman's beach) on Isla Contradora, the island's nudist beach. Don't bother snorkeling or diving on this beach - there are some  pretty fish - that's it! The best place to stay on the island is Hotel Punta Galeon ($114 - $166/night includes breakfast). The airport is right there, but was temporarily closed for runway repairs. We took the ferry from  Las Brisas on the Amador Causeway. The hotel overlooks the beach, has good food, a nice pool, great views, good service, it is clean and comfortable. Rent a golf cart for one hour only ($35) You can cover the entire  island in an hour easily. The Contradora Hotel (where the cast and crew of Survivor stayed) has been sold and is being torn down. The actual filming took place on three small deserted island nearby - ask any  fisherman to take you on his boat for $10. Hotel Punta Galeon: www.puntagaleon.com, E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: 214- 3710, 214- 3720 Panama City reservatons: Tel: 250- 4134

 

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99-101: Anywhere and Everywhere!

 

99) Swing in a hammock on the beach. Remember, no-one ever died wishing they had spent more time at the office. After all, isn't this why you are here in the first place? Drink coconut water straight from the coconut.  Swim in the bath-water warm ocean. Read a book. Take today off. Watch the sunset together.

100) Get something special for the people at home. Most retail stores are open 9 A.M. - 6 P.M. Mon. - Sat., shopping malls  are open later and on Sundays and Holidays. Best areas: Cinco de Mayo Plaza, Panama City -  pedestrian mall. Central Street Panama - markets line both sides of the street. City of Penenome, the main drag has jeans for under five dollars, and two dozen discount shoe stores! You go girl.

 

101) Call a real estate agent, find an attorney and BUY SOMETHING! This place has everything. Cool mountain breezes, breathtaking beaches, exciting cities, culturally interesting people - and as you can tell from this list  - lots to do. This place is a terrific investment: it has great medical facilities, a stable economy, it is safe, a low cost of living, great infrastructure, excellent communications, international banking, pleasant people that  sincerely want you here, the world's best retirement benefits, relatively affordable real estate (although it is going up every day) and NO HURRICANES!!!  See our pages on real estate agentsreal estate developers, and our handy panama resource directory for more information.  What are you waiting for? 

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 06 April 2015 17:28  

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