Central America is a fabulous destination for activities, food, culture, beaches, history, and nature – Panama has it all and is a hot destination for all of the above, plus a vibrant capital city full of lively restaurants and bars, music and shopping too!
My daughter and I started our journey in Panama City with a tour of the Panama Canal at the Miraflores Locks. The history of the canal including the devastating toll it took on 1000’s of laborers and the complex engineering feat is fascinating!
PANAMA CANAL, MIRAFLORES LOCKS –
Simulator in the Canal Museum that allows you to “captain” the ship through the canal –
Islas Secas is the newest island resort in Panama and one of the most exclusive properties in the entire region.
14 ISLANDS: 18 guests, 20 miles from civilization
A pristine ocean wilderness where the ultimate sustainable, barefoot luxury meets adventure at every turn. Unwind, recharge and reset.
Isabella and I flew from Panama City to the city of David, we then transferred to the coast to board a boat to take us to Islas Secas. (There is also a private flight option directly from Panama City)
A cold refreshment –
And beautiful vistas make the boat ride out to the islands pleasant –
The team at Islas Secas welcoming us –
This is barefoot luxury and ALL INCLUSIVE including activities, lodging, divine food and beverage! Peaceful and secluded with outstanding personalized service.
The food is divine with daily menus of fresh and local cuisine –
Accommodation options include 9 total units (one is a 4 bedroom villa, 2 are 2-bedroom villas, and one is a 1-bedroom villa)
ISLA PALENQUE, Pacific Coast –
Following Islas Secas we boated to a much larger and more rustic but also wonderfully relaxing private island called Isla Palenque. The beach here is stunning!
Accommodations are basic but quite comfortable with outdoor living areas and al fresco bathrooms but air-conditioned bedrooms.
Menus change daily and the food is quite delicious –
Guided activities change daily and we really loved our guides and naturalists –
Beautiful sunset at Isla Palenque –
The rooms do not have private pools but there is a shared pool at the main lodge which is quite nice –
I loved my fresh fruit breakfast each morning –
EL OTRO LADO, PORTOBELO – Caribbean Coast
After visiting the two Pacific Coast island resorts, we flew back to Panama City and had a transfer to the Caribbean coast and the charming town of Portobello. The culture, colors, and vibes are decidedly more Afro-Caribbean on the Caribbean coast and it was a fun change of pace from the Pacific.
Once arriving to Portobelo, we took a small boat across to “the other side” to the El Otro Lado resort –
Fun with my teenage daughter!
This is an authentic retreat which is also a labor of love. Employing primarily local employees who run the hotel but also engage in making art and furniture that decorates the property and is also available for sale – everything you see is a work of art and an authentic local craft, bringing needed revenue to the community.
In addition to boating to nearby beaches, there are some wonderful hikes right from the property itself. My daughter and I hiked up to several forts to take in the views –
Guests can be transported around the property on 4 -wheel drive vehicles –
There is also a beautiful and peaceful lake for paddle-boating or just taking in a good book –
In the town of Portobello, little restaurants and shops are fun to visit –
We ended our trip back in Panama City were we stayed in the beautiful but (beware) very noisy Casco Viejo, or Old Town.
This is a great area for tooling around, shopping and enjoying drinks. The party goes late into the night on weekends!
CASCO VIEJO, PANAMA CITY –
Wonderful specialty shops include the famous Panama hat –
Fantastic places to dine –
Loved the art and architecture in the Casco Viejo –
Some of the best chocolate in the world is produced in Panama, so a chocolate tasting is definitely a GOOD idea!
There are several excellent hotels in the Casco Viejo. Here my view from the superb La Condordia, but I also love the American Trade Hotel.
The food in Panama is exceptional and has a wonderful mix of cultures – Latin, African, Chinese – all due to its history of nationalities coming to build the Canal. The highlight meal of the trip, however, was definitely DONDE JOSE. This tiny restaurant with just 8 tables is a gem with a fabulous tasting menu representing the many nationalities and moments in history that make up this fascinating countries past and present.
A meal to remember perfectly paired with scrumptious wines!
In Sum, Panama has it all! Whether you are planning a wonderful family vacation, sophisticated adults only get-a-way, or even a great long weekend girl’s trip! Panama should be top of mind! Resort to Laura Madrid can craft just the itinerary for you. Vamonos!