So…planning a getaway? Wondering where to go with limited time on your Panama vacation? As I start season 3 of PanamaDude, I’d like to travel back in time to what we did during our first Panama vacation, which was how and why we came to move here. If you’re looking for Panama vacation ideas or going on a “fact-finding” mission, look no more…or keep looking, whatever.
My wife and I first visited Panama back in 2012 for our “fact-finding” mission and discovered there’s a ton of places to see and things to see and do!
Our Panama vacation goes a little something like this…
Day 1: Arrive in Panama City
Arrived mid-afternoon on a Friday. Took a taxi from Tocumen airport to downtown PC. This is something to experience in itself. Really, Disney should make it a ride! As you approach a toll there’s insane jockeying for position. I think our driver switched lanes 73 times within 500 metres of the toll booths. And you know those painted lines that us North American’s are used to driving within? Guess what, they have those in Panama too, they just tend to ignore them. Organized chaos at it’s finest!.
We got in late, so we just walked down the street for a nice seafood dinner then decided to check out one of the casinos where we witnessed the following:
- Guys picking up “ladies of the night”
- Gringos blowing over $1000 each at the craps table (not a typo – it was one thousand dollars)
- Me winning $100 playing blackjack (not a typo – I won one hundred dollars).
Day 2: One Day in Panama City
Took advantage of the Hop-on-Hop off bus. If you only have one day in Panama City it’s probably the best way to see both the city and several attractions. In fact, I wrote a blog about it a few weeks back. You may have seen it. It got like, 12 likes on Facebook or something. I know right, amazing :).
Anyway, we started off with a trip to the Miraflores locks. Insanely busy there on a Saturday – so I acted like a dumb-ass gringo that didn’t know where to go and cut in line ahead of 150 people (give or take a dozen). After the Panama Canal we went to the Amador causeway where we also had lunch and a couple of Panama brews, then subsequently walked off said lunch around the area. Our next stop was Casco Viejo where we hopped off the hop-on-hop-off and did a self-guided walking tour of the old city. While in the old city, you need to buy a tasty shaved ice – so refreshing!
Decided to sit at a patio and endured an insane rain/wind storm that seemingly came out of nowhere and blew over the umbrella that subsequently tipped our table over, which in turn broke a glass, that resulted in me cutting my finger as I tried to be helpful…I digress…hopped back on the hop-on-hop-off bus to our final stop (or original stop) – the multicentro. Walked back to our hotel and stopped at the El-Rey for a couple of Panamas.
Day 3: Boat to Contadora Island
Took a boat ride out to the Pearl Islands. Upon arrival at Isla Contadora, the boat stopped in the bay, then we unpacked things into a smaller outboard motor-boat, which took us relatively close to shore, but we had to get out and hold our luggage overhead as we walked to shore – because docks are overrated, evidently. Our B & B host dude gave us a tour of the island. He showed us where a few presidents came to stay and got us an inside tour of what was, until recently, Christian Dior’s house (which has a dock I might add). Got to our hotel, changed into suits and hit one of several beaches! At dusk we watched the bats dodge, duck, dip, dive and…dodge while munching on mosquitos. Nom Nom. Then we drove our golf cart to a restaurant and ordered a pitcher of sangria. Wow, lots of sangria! Offered some sangria to an American dude we met earlier on the beach. He joined us. Wife then invited some other Americans from Seattle to join us. Aw yeah, good ole Canadian hospitality! Drove golf cart back to B & B, no spot checks – good thing, probably would have blown over!
Day 4: Enjoying Contadora Island
Chilled at the beach all day. Wife got drenched by a rogue wave. I laughed. It started pouring rain in the late afternoon…and thunder storming. Went out for an amazing dinner around the corner from our hotel though. An Italian dude had enough of cooking in Italy, so he decided to cook on Contadora Island at Casa Tortuga. Side note: wasn’t allowed sex at night because of rogue wave incident.
Day 5 Travel to Boquete
After a shit-your-pants flight on a Cessna in the pouring rain in which we landed and took off from a grass field covered with puddles, we braved the skies of Panama for a “normal” flight to David. To elaborate, Contadora’s runway is paved, but we had to drop some other passengers and supplies off on another island – possibly for the next Survivor show, or maybe for the filming of a new version of LOST that actually answers questions instead of adding more and more each episode, stringing you along like some sort of…thing that strings you along…I digress. Got to David and then Boquete in one piece (and with clean underwear).
Day 6: Rain in Boquete
Rained all day in Boquete. Walked to a floral garden that was closed the one week we decided to visit…en serio! Walked around town some more wondering WTF to do. Went to a spa and had a kick-ass massage. Seriously, one of the best massages I think I’ve ever had. First day in Boquete not so bad afterall. Dinner time – had one of the best burgers I’ve ever had in my entire life! Forgot my hat at the restaurant and the three minute walk back was too far. Hasta luego hat.
Day 7: Sunny in Boquete
Went back to burger joint and got my hat. It was a much nicer day so we went on a guided tour to a hot spring, jumped into a twenty foot deep river-gorge, and saw some of the countryside. Should have added zip-lining but I was too cheap and we had done it before anyway. Day two in Boquete better than day one
Day 8: Birding in Boquete
Free bird watching tour in town with some local expats. Yup, you know you’re cool when you start birding. Actually, we really enjoyed doing this, and there was a great community feel within the group as well. Bring your binoculars and bird book to Boquete!
Day 9: Flight from David back to Panama City
Another travel day. Said goodbyes to our awesome hosts in Boquete, flew back to Albrook and went to a B & B for some R & R…and of course some Panamas purchased from the local Chino.
Day 10: Chilled Dudes!
Could have done something more productive with this day, like visit the infamous fish market, but we had an afternoon flight so we spent the morning…
chilling out max
and relaxin’ all cool
and sittin’ there in PC,
sunnin’ by the pool…(come on, who didn’t like Fresh Prince)?
Heavy rains started in the early afternoon but we were leaving anyway. B & B host took us on the back roads back to Tocumen airport – nice!
In hindsight, we should have rented a car and taken some time to drive out to Boquete and back. There are so many small towns along the way that we wanted to visit and explore. We had read about several places that dotted the map but you realize you only have so much time. And of course you still want to enjoy your vacation to some extent – you don’t want a rogue wave to completely ruin things.
You can see why we moved to Panama with excitement like that!