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Permalink to Destination: Santa Catalina and Coiba Island

Destination: Santa Catalina and Coiba Island

Literally at the end of the road, the tiny fishing village of Santa Catalina in the Veraguas Province of Panama sits near some of the best surfing spots in the country, and is the closest port to Isla de Coiba, Panama’s top diving and fishing destination.

A quiet fishing village in seclusion until discovered by surfers in the 1970s. Protecting their hidden world class surf, Santa Catalina was kept secret by the surfers for quite sometime. For years, only adventurous surfers visited Santa Catalina who made the long trip here on rough roads and slept in rustic rooms for the pleasure of riding La Punta, a right point break. The roads and accommodations have improved, while still keeping a rustic charm. For the moment, Santa Catalina remains a quiet beach town with little to offer other than ocean views through the palm fronds, friendly locals, cheap seafood, and amazing surf and diving. Surf Spots include Santa Catalina, Punta Brava, Punta Roca, La Puntica and El Estero.

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Permalink to Destination: Gulf of Chiriqui Panama

Destination: Gulf of Chiriqui Panama

The Gulf of Chiriqui is located off the Chiriqui Province of Panama. To reach this destination you can either go by boat from the port of Pedregal (10 minutes from David) or car from the town of Boca Chica.

This area boasts a lower level of rain than the rest of Panama, making it a very attractive destination. Temperatures year round are fairly consistent, with daytime temperatures in the 80s and 90s and nighttime around 70s.

This area in the Pacific gulf of Panama has the second largest reef in the Pacific and innumerable small islands in many archipelago including Central America’s largest island, Coiba Island and Coiba National Marine Park. This area is home to the richest mangroves and rarest pelagic marine species in the world. Lonely Planet Panama calls the Gulf of Chiriqui an undisputed gem. It has a reputation as a world-class sport fishing destination, as evidenced by Saltwater Fisherman Magazine, which named it the best place in the world for catching the Black Marlin in their April 2009 issue. The Moon handbook on Panama says the Gulf of Chiriqui is so large and species-rich some consider it a small sea. Well known among insiders for its boating, sport fishing, surfing, scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities, the unspoiled and largely undiscovered coastal and marine environments in the area rival the best on the Pacific coasts of Central America and Mexico.

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Permalink to Destination: Portobelo and Isla Grande

Destination: Portobelo and Isla Grande

Because of all the wealth that passed through the area of Portobelo, it became a favorite for pirates such as Captain Henry Morgan, Sir Francis Drake, and Admiral Edward Vernon of the British Empire. The last attack proved the vulnerability of the Spanish trading practices and devastated Portobelo’s economy, which did not rise again until the Panama Canal was build.

Now a days, Portobelo is a sleepy city with a population of less than 5,000. It has a deep natural harbor and has become an well known eco tourism and adventure tourism destination in Panama. In 1980 UNESCO declared the Portobelo and the nearby Fort of San Lorenzo a World Heritage Site.

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Permalink to Destination: El Valle de Anton

Destination: El Valle de Anton

El Valle de Anton is the perfect day trip and is also a weekend retreat to get away from Panama City. Some of its attractions are the panoramic views of the mountains, the famous artisan markets, hiking in the mountains, bike rides and horse rides, a tropical zoo, bird watching and a variety of attractive housing options. Many fine houses and mansions are located in El Valle, the preferred site of Panama’s wealthiest families to spend weekends.

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Permalink to Destination: Pedasi and the Azuero Peninsula

Destination: Pedasi and the Azuero Peninsula

The Azuero Peninsula features towns that were founded hundreds of years ago. Strong Spanish colonial influence can be seen in the beautiful churches and town plazas, as well in the well-kept homes with their pastoral colors, colonnaded verandas and tile roofs.

Las Tablas, thirty minutes away from Pedasi and the provincial capital, was founded in 1671 and boasts the most famous Carnival celebration in all of Panama.

Just fifteen minutes from the shores of the Arenales Beach of Pedasi lies Isla Iguana. A national park and wildlife refuge boasting extensive coral reefs and a colony of frigate birds. This palm-dotted island with white sandy beaches and crystal clear, shallow waters offers the laziest snorkeling imaginable.

Nearby, Isla Cañas can receive hundreds of pregnant turtles in a single night to lay eggs along its 14-kilometer beach. Playa Venao, just thirty minutes drive west from Pedasi, is one of Panama’s best surf spots with a consistent south swell that attracts surfers from all over the world.

The Azuero Coast of Panama is one of the best places for artesian and sport fishing, with large catches in the area such as Marlin, Sailfish, Dolphin fish, Grouper, Snapper, Wahoo and Snook are all available just off the beaches. In addition to the ever-present schools of yellow fin tuna that caused this stretch of coast to be named “The Tuna Coast“.

Hotels in Pedasi

Town of Pedasi:

Finca Las Libelulas
•    Casita Margarita Boutique Hotel
•    Hotel Casa de Campo
Los Destiladeros:
•    Azuero Villas Rental
•    Villa Camilla Boutique Hotel
El Ciruelo:
•    Sereia do Mar Bed and Breakfast
Playa Venao (Beach):
•    Villa Marina Hostal y Hotel en Playa Venao
•    La Playita Resort
Cambutal:
•    Boom Shiva Bungalows

Tours and Charters in Pedasi:

For more information on how to get to Pedasi, view “How to get to Pedasi in Los Santos?”


Permalink to Destination: Boquete, Bambito and Volcan

Destination: Boquete, Bambito and Volcan

The small town of Boquete nestled in a picturesque valley is the center of the Boquete region. Here you’ll find a variety of lodging choices from resorts to hostels, tour operators, services, restaurants, a 9 hole golf course and souvenir stores. Boquete used to be a “best kept secret”. All of this has changed since it consistently rated as one of the best places for a second homes and retirement.

Volcan is a small town that lies on the foot of the Baru Volcano, giving the town its name. Bambito is on its way up the mountain road which reaches Cerro Punta a post card town known as the breadbasket of Panama.

Tourism attractions include majestic mountain scenery, world-class rafting and kayaking, golf, coffee farm tours, birdwatching, hiking, horseback riding, trout fishing, agro-tourism, orchid farm, zipline canopy tour, residential communities, year-round spring weather and a very friendly populace.

The coffee of the area has consistently won awards and is considered one of the best in the world. The Geisha Arabica Coffee variety produced in Boquete is currently the most expensive coffee in the world. This is the reason why this valley is starting to get a reputation as the Napa Valley of Coffee.

Hotels in Boquete:
•    The Panamonte Inn & Spa
•    Casa del Risco, Boutique Hotel – Hacienda los Molinos
•    Valle Escondido Residential Community and Hotel
•    Finca Lerida Coffee Plantation and Eco Resort
•    Los Establos Boutique Coffee Estate Hotel
•    Hotel Valle del Rio Inn
•    El Parador Family Cabins
•    Isla Verde Hotel
•    The Riverside Inn in Palo Alto River
•    Boquete Garden Inn
•    The Haven Spa and Wellness Center
Tours in Boquete:
•    World Class White Water Rafting
•    White Water Kayaking
•    Coffee Plantation Tours
•    Hike the Volcan Baru National Park in Chiriqui
•    Caldera Hot Springs
•    Horseback Riding in Boquete
•    Cloud Forest Safari Tour
•    Wildlife Expedition
•    Explore the Habitat of the Resplendent Quetzal on Los Quetzales Trail
•    Waterfall Hike in Falling Waters Nature Reserve in Volcan Baru National Park
Tours from Boquete to surrounding destinations:
Gulf of Chiriqui (Boca Chica, Isla Gamez, Bolanos or Secas):
•    Explore, Relax and Snorkel in the White Sand Beaches in the Gulf of Chiriqui
•    Sea Kayak: Day Trip or Camping Overnighter
•    Sport Fishing Charter to Islas Secas
Coiba Island and Coiba National Park:
•    Sport Fishing Charter to Coiba National Park


Permalink to Destination: Bocas del Toro Archipelago

Destination: Bocas del Toro Archipelago

The colorful and Caribbean Colon Island is the tourist center of Bocas del Toro and formed thousands years ago from coralline reef fossils, many of which are exposed in the central part of the island. Given these conditions, Colon Island erects in the middle of the Atlantic sea, surrounded by crystalline waters and pink sand product of the reefs pigmentation.

Other islands part of Bocas Del Toro are Zapatilla Cay, Bird Island, Bastimento, Cristobal Island, Popa Island and others.

Bocas Del Toro province is located at the northern west part of the Panama’s Isthmus and west of Costa Rica’s border, limits to the south with Chiriqui province and east with the Ngobe Bugle Indian Reservation.

Hotels in Bocas del Toro:
Isla Colon:
•    Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge
•    Bocas Paradise Hotel
•    Playa Tortuga Hotel & Beach Resort
•    Jardines Vista del Mar – Apartment Rentals
•    Hotel Swan’s Cay
•    Hotel Bocas del Toro
•    Hotel Palma Royale
•    Casa Verde Hostel & Guest House
•    Hotel La Coralina in Bluff Beach
•    Hotel Cocomo on the Sea
•    Tropical Suites
•    Hostel Mar e Iguana
Isla Careneros:
•    Careening Cay Resort
•    Casa Acuario Hotel  Suites Over the Sea
•    Hotel Tierra Verde
Isla Bastimentos:
•    Al Natural Resort
•    Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge
•    Red Frog Bungalows in Red Frog Beach
Isla Popa:
•    Popa Paradise Resort
Isla Cristobal:
•    Casa Selva del Mar
Tours in Bocas del Toro:
•    Kayaks and Water Skiing Rentals
•    Bocas del Toro Day Tours: Dolphin Tour, Bird Island and Zapatillas Cays
•    Bastimentos Sky Canopy Zipline Tour
Diving and Snorkeling in Bocas del Toro:
•    PADI Scuba Diving Certification Class
•    Diving Tours in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago
•    Snorkeling Tours in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago
Sailing and Boat Charters in Bocas del Toro:
•    Sailing and Diving Charter
•    Catamaran Sailing and Snorkeling Adventures


Permalink to Destination: San Blas Archipelago or Guna Yala

Destination: San Blas Archipelago or Guna Yala

The archipelago of San Blas offers two exciting experiences: the Caribbean islands of spectacular beauty and the opportunity to visit the villages of the Guna Indians to learn about their fascinating culture and way of life.

San Blas is a collection of some 365 islands (one for each day of the year) where you can swim and snorkel, dive, kayak or fish. The islands of San Blas have been formed by the accumulation of coral and are covered with palm trees and white sand beaches that are indescribable. Different depths and infinite shades of blue and turquoise water, dazzling underwater coral gardens, no wild animals and tropical climate make this the perfect escape from reality.

The impression on arrival is incredible, the feeling of having traveled back in time, the surprise of seeing how the Kuna Indians who inhabit this archipelago of San Blas have remained intact for centuries, their customs, their traditions and their simple lifestyle, it is difficult to imagine.

Hotels in the San Blas Archipelago:
•    Dad Ibe Island Lodge in Ailigandi
•    Sapibenega The Kuna Lodge in Playon Chico
•    Uaguinega Dolphin Island Lodge
•    Kuanidup Lodge
•    Yandup Island Lodge, Eco and Etnic Tourism
•    Coral Lodge Resort
•    Akwadup Lodge in Achutupo

Hostals in the San Blas Archipelago:
•    Hostal Carti Home Stay

Tours in the San Blas Archipelago:
•    San Blas (Kuna Yala) Day Trip

Sailboats and Charters:
•    Mandragore Trimaran Sailboat

For information on transportation, view our article
“How to get to the San Blas Archipelago?”


Permalink to The Black Christ Festival is Panama’s Most Popular Pilgrimage

The Black Christ Festival is Panama’s Most Popular Pilgrimage

The festival of the Black Christ is held on October 21st every year in Portobelo to mark the anniversary of the statues’ arrival in the town. At exactly 8 p.m. 80 strong men carry the statue from the church, beginning a four-hour parade around the community. A carnival atmosphere takes over and everyone celebrates the procession of the Christ through the homes and roads.

Some devotees walk the 53 miles from Panama City and thousands walk the last 22 miles from Sabanitas. Some even crawl the last mile on hands and knees to worship.

Wearing ornate purple robes, the worshippers are easy to spot and gather every year to praise Christ at the steps of Isla Grande. Isla Grande overlooks the Portobelo Black Christ statue in its position in the bay, with a short boat ride taking you directly to the feet of the statue.

Isla Grande itself supports magnificent views of the Caribbean, with the high point being the Lighthouse on the far east of the Island. For more information on the festival of the Black Christ in Isla Grande, contact Panama Travel Group. With information on hotels on Isla Grande and accommodation in Portobelo, we are here to take you there.

Email: info@panamatravelgroup.com


Permalink to Isla Grande Panama a Little Paradise on Earth

Isla Grande Panama a Little Paradise on Earth

If there is paradise on earth, it is here, it is here. These often quoted lines, written in another language, for another place, come repeatedly to mind when one merely looks around when on Isla Grande. The name is a misnomer, as it is actually a rather small island in the Caribbean, off the mainland town of Portobelo, which is located an hour and a half from Panama City.

Much of Isla Grande is protected and open only to limited tourism. Hopefully, the restrictions will protect this gorgeous, emerald paradise forever. Covered by virgin tropical rainforest, there are two walking trails, one leading to a lighthouse and the other leading to the other side of the island where you will find a postcard-perfect beach, known as La Punta. The beach is surrounded by coral reefs, which give the water a greenish hue. A little further down the beach, the waters are ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving. With the water perpetually at 28 to 30 degrees, no matter what the weather may be like, a dip in the water in Isla Grande is always heavenly.

The lighthouse affords a panoramic view of the vast horizon, an infinite space dotted with green, hilly islands where palm trees sway gently next to crystal blue waters.

If you want to go to the Caribbean beach in Isla Grande but don’t feel like a sweaty hike through the tropical rainforest to get there, you can take a boat. Not only is the boat a cool, refreshing alternative to a steamy hike, but you’ll have the added bonus of getting a good look at the mangroves. The way the roots and branches are entangled to create a solid mass on the shallow ocean floor is fascinating.

Your boat driver can take you to another island where he lives in a charming village. Most of the houses are painted in brilliant colors and the walls are decorated with sea shells. The people are mostly dark-skinned descendents who have made the island their home since the colonial era. They make a living from fishing, trading coconuts and tourism. They are disarmingly friendly and happy to receive visitors.

The boat driver might tell you about another island, which was once used by the people as a cremation ground. A few years ago, it was bought by a Spaniard, who burned all the vegetation down to exorcise the place and has since planted palm trees all over the grounds. It stands out as an unusual sight, as it has no natural vegetation, only a massive white mansion.

For accommodation, the Banana Village Beach Resort is perhaps the best option; the only one offering international standard comfort and food. There are 34 rooms , which except during Carnival time (last week of February), are never really full, giving the place an air of quiet exclusivity. Sister Moon Hotel is also a very good option for surfers, backpackers and people who want a more rustic feel.

To book hotel reservations or for more information about Panama travel, tourism, and locations contact Panama Travel Group today.

info@panamatravelgroup.com