During my stay in Panama, I not only got a taste of the city life in la Ciudad de Panama, but I also had the chance to check out the Caribbean and the countryside.
First stop. Bocas Del Toro.
Since Bocas is about an eight-hour drive away from the city, I decided to take the approx. hour flight on AirPanama from the Albrook Regional Airport. The flight almost acted as an airborne taxi, stopping at other destinations along the way to pick up more passengers. Regardless, it was a comfortable easy ride. When I arrived in Bocas, I was bombarded with a few aggressive individuals wanting to help me find a cab. A word of advice. The airport is about a snap big. You can find your own taxi. And once you actually get outside to the taxi area, they want a fee for “leading” you to the taxi, since they are most likely not driving it. Amazingly enough, the taxi drivers asked if I was joining anyone and once I responded with a yes, they knew exactly where I was going. My parents had arrived a couple of days earlier, and I was meeting them for the weekend.
I arrived at the hotel and quickly dropped off my things before heading to breakfast. We brunched at this cute spot right on the water, Lili’s Cafe. I ordered the french toast, along with the most amazing hot chocolate I have ever had in my life. No exaggeration. I’m still trying to figure out what they put in that mug, lol.
After breakfast, we took a walk around town. Bocas is pretty small, so it’s easy to do in about 20 minutes. Another note. Since Bocas is so small, most of the tour guides recognize the new tourists in town. A lot of the “gophers,” who bring the tourists in, will ride around on bikes looking for people and asking if you want to go on a tour. And basically everyone goes to the same places. You can shop around if you like, but I think at most you will save $5.
My dad and I chose a tour with one of the local hostels. Since my parents had arrived earlier, they already checked out Drago Beach and were not inclined to return. Apparently the off-roading journey to the beach was not something they wanted to experience again. We decided to do a 4-stop tour, with the main highlights being the Dolphin Cove and Zapatilla Cay, part of Bastimentos National Marine Park. Even though we left later in the day, we were able to see quite a few dolphins in the cove. We then made a quick stop for lunch and/or snorkeling.
Then it was off to Zapatilla Cay! Words cannot express how breathtaking this island was when we approached. I almost think the pictures don’t even do it justice. We relaxed and hung out in the calm waters for a few hours before heading back. Definitely well worth the $25.
For dinner that night, we headed to Lemongrass Restaurant: Asian Bistro. The meal was pretty good; but I don’t recommend dessert. We ordered the “chocolate cake” and it was basically soup. I know, gross right?
We walked around a bit after dinner. I didn’t really notice a jumping nightlife, but who knows…I wasn’t exactly planning on going bar hopping with my padres ;-).
To be continued…