Panama is gorgeous. There are developed cities and people spend US dollars. Panama was at end of the road of my Central America trip. I was happy to move onto the next adventure, which was sailing the San Blas Islands to Colombia. More on how I organised that later.
I remember hearing about Panama as a travel destination. It was in a video I watched about an island just off the coast of Panama called Bocas Del Toro. A travel blogger and YouTuber called Jubril posted a video about Bocas and how you can island hop and experience the Caribbean lifestyle on a budget. I was intrigued to know more about where Bocas is and what else you can do there. I saw pictures on travel blogs, Instagram and Twitter and I was fascinated. I never knew you could easily backpack countries by the Caribbean Sea until that point. After doing research, that’s how I discovered the Central part of The Americas. You can travel through the continent by land and island hop!
Here are some pics I took in Bocas:
Locals gathering for an outdoor music event in the main square.
Outdoor markets selling hammocks. Jo and Katie bought a colourful hammock for $20US each
It does rain in the Caribbean. Thankfully, it actually turned out to be a bright day
Visit Red Frog Beach to see red frogs and Star Fish beach to see star fish! You may be able to spot a sloth or two along the way. Jo & I bought a Pina Colada Pine drink.
Bocas was crazy wonderful! Like how I visualised it but better. I would recommend island hopping as a group package but its’ also easy to do independently. Hostel Heike (free pancake breakfast) or Selena’s (party hostel) are recommended hostels. You can catch a boat over to Aqua Lounge Bar on Wednesdays for a night of water trampolining, sea swings, dive towers, dancing and more.
I had one of the best nights in Bocas with Jo, Katie, Niamh and Rainer. We crashed by Katie and Niamh’s guesthouse for the evening. We let loose and felt free in the sea. We drank Panamanian beers and gazed at the moonlight. We chatted and enjoyed each other’s company for our last night together, before the Irish ladies caught a flight to the capital the next day. The sky lit up and I saw things I wouldn’t usually notice but I was appreciative of. It was a magical night; one I will still remember in years to come.
In Bocas, I apparently looked like a local. I was mistaken for a Panamanian numerous times. The receptionist at a local hotel we stayed in thought I was related to Rainer. No kidding! Now I call him Papa Rainer!
Mine, Jo, Papa Reiner’s last breakfast together in Bocas.
Onto Boquette…there isn’t much to do there apart from expensive tours. There was a tour where you can hike to a point to see the pacific and Caribbean Sea at the same time however it would have been too cloudy to see it around May time. Jo and I caught a local bus to David. The restaurant opposite the hostel we stayed at served delicious food. Typical Panamanian food for local prices.
Eating Patacones with seasoned Tilapia Fish and soda. YUMMM!
Anethy, one of the workers at The Bambu hostel, rocking The Bob Marley t-shirt. The hostel in David is great for advice on tours, transportation and local activities. Friendly volunteers and owner aswell! We watched a film at the cinema in English!
Welcome to Panama City!
Visiting Panama City was a contrast to other capitals I visited in Central America. Panama City is developed and has capital. As well as soaking up the gloriousness of pool crashing and shopping, I had decisions to make. There are different options of seeing the San Blas Islands. you could go on a speedboat, a sailboat or wait for an unlicensed boat carrying goods to take you from Panama to Colombia or a 3-day trip from Panama to Panama. I contemplated taking the speedboat option however it is a different experience to taking a sailboat. First of all, the pick-up and drop off destination is different. I preferred the sailboat option which departs from Portobelo and arrives in Cartagena. The speedboat option avoids the 2-day sea crossing meaning you get more island time and less change of sea sickness. Luckily in May/June, the sea was very calm and didn’t stir our bellies. You sleep on the sailboat if you are sailing and on the islands if you take the speedboat. The price is not that much difference if you factor in extra costs (such as transportation to the mainland) for the speedboat.
Wanting to continue on the South America, I decided to book a sailboat from Panama to Colombia. Usually you’d have to book it months in advance but it was considered ‘low season’ and there were spaces available for that same week. There were exactly 4 spaces left for the Amande 2 boat departing 28.05.16. Perfect! Three friends and myself reserved the remaining spots so we could sail together. It was all last minute organisation but we made it happen and luckily to sail on a date to our convenience. I love it when a plan comes together! I bought plenty of snacks, drinks and cash money to carry with me for the journey. I had a couple days spear before leaving the city to meet the boat in Portobelo.
Ticket Entry to the famous Panama Canal
Drive through ATM service!
Shopping mall – stocked up on essentials for the sailboat trip
At The Hard Rock Cafe, Panama
At The Donald Trump Hotel, Panama. Infinity pool and high line buildings
Adios Central America. Besos xxx