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9 days in Panama - please review my itinerary

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San Francisco...
posts: 49
9 days in Panama - please review my itinerary


I need some advice from you guys. I am planning my Panama trip. My initial plan:

Nov 16 - landing in Panama (Tocumen) at 8 am. Stay in PC. Hotel Tryp By Wyndham Panama Centro

Nov 17 - early flight to Bocas del Toro

here are the questions:

- should we better fly better on Nov 16 in the afternoon to Bocas del Toro? there is a flight at 3:30 pm

- where to stay in Bocas? My husband will be diving a bit, I want to spend time on the beach, generally relaxing, etc. I am thinking about Koko Resort or Hotel Oasis Over The Sea.

Nov 22 - flight to PC, hotel Tryp By Wyndham Panama Centro

Nov 23 - partial Panama Canal transfer

Nov 24 - fly back home

Please could you advise whether such itinerary looks reasonable? what you would change?

This is only draft. I am not sure about the details, e.g. what to visit in PC, but I will work on this.

Thank you!

Atlanta, Georgia...
Destination Expert
for Colon, Isla Grande, Portobelo
posts: 2,666
reviews: 11
1. Re: 9 days in Panama - please review my itinerary

I think your itinerary looks very reasonable. I would definitely stay with the early morning flight to Bocas. If flights get cancelled or delayed, they are usually the afternoon flights. That will also give you a day to get acquainted with Panama ... or at least the city. You'll have time to see Casco Viejo or go to the Miraflores visitors' center.

Other thoughts: there are other regular posters on this forum who know Bocas a lot better than I do, like geojack. Either wait for his response or send him a PM.

In the past, my wife and I have stayed at a couple of small B&Bs on the north shore - Hotel Angela and Cocomo-on-the-Sea. Cocomo seems to have slipped in the past couple of years. We like the location because it's a quiet part of town and easy to walk to restaurants and the dive shops. If you stay on Carenero, you'll have to pay for water taxis every time you go to Bocas Town or elsewhere. At night, which means after 6:30pm, I don't recommend taking water taxis, even just to and from Bocas Town. The water taxis typically don't have running lights and skippers can't hear other boats until it's too late. Over the years, there have been a number of accidents involving water taxis at night. Some fatal for tourists. Carenero is also infested with chitras, sand fleas, which can make your vacation miserable.

We have always spent as much time as possible diving in Bocas. I would strongly recommend Bocas Water Sports. I would also strongly not recommend Starfleet for numerous reasons. La Bruga seems to be more focused on surfing than diving, and I can't speak for any of the others. BWS has great rates, excellent DMs, a very safe, customer focused attitude (rare among Panamanian dive ops) and well maintained gear.

If you haven't been to Central America, you might consider cutting one day off your Bocas portion and spending a day and a night in El Valle when you return to Panama. You can pick up a car at the airport (Albrook) when you return and avoid driving through Panama City. El Valle offers a different side of Panama -- the cooler mountains and rainforest.

In any case, have a wonderful trip!

Edited: 8:45 am, October 18, 2013
San Jose, California
posts: 681
reviews: 30
2. Re: 9 days in Panama - please review my itinerary

I enjoyed staying at La Estancia B&B (old US Army Officer Family Quarters) very near Albrook Airport where you take regional flights to other parts of Panama. While on Bocas, I enjoyed staying at Hotel Angela (sadly Claudio - previous owner has passed away) but still is a nice hotel while on Bocas.

Also agree about Carenero, I was eaten alive while staying there for a few nights.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
posts: 1,237
reviews: 4
3. Re: 9 days in Panama - please review my itinerary

I'm not sure about your dates but you probably want to reserve something ASAP. All of November is different holidays in Panama. I think you are alright except I know for certain Nov. 16th is Bocas Day which means hour after hour of marching bands and some partying.... If you want to see it, you may want to try for the afternoon flight.

San Francisco...
posts: 49
4. Re: 9 days in Panama - please review my itinerary

Thank you for your responses:

- I booked flight on Sun morning as recommended (not interested in Bocas Day)

- In Panama we are staying in Tryp By Wyndham Panama Centro

Please could you recommend places in Panama to visit taking into consideration that I can't walk a lot currently due to health condition

- On the islands we are staying in The Villas at Red Frog Beach

Do you know how much are the water taxis between Bocas del Toro and Isla Bastimentos and how long does it take to commute between the islands?

- We made diving reservations with Bocas Water Sports


Central America
posts: 1,534
reviews: 22
5. Re: 9 days in Panama - please review my itinerary

Re not walking much in the Bocas area. Red Frog is a beautiful property but really spread out. There are shuttle trucks that make the run between the docks and the beach and I think they have a few golf carts for rent. Its roughly 20 minutes by boat to Bocas Town but don't know the water taxi price.

The the typical way to get around in Bocas Town is to walk, but there are taxis. However, it can be a challenge to find an available one sometimes. Plenty of places to stop and rest along the way if that helps. You can have the water taxi drop you at a dock closer to your destination to cut the walking distance.

Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive in PC too.

Edited: 8:00 am, October 27, 2013
San Francisco...
posts: 49
6. Re: 9 days in Panama - please review my itinerary

Hi Guys,

Once again many thanks for your input. Just one question. Where in PC you would recommend to buy a Panama Hat?

BTW - Red Frog advised that a water taxi to Bocas Town is $5.

Thank you!

Atlanta, Georgia...
Destination Expert
for Colon, Isla Grande, Portobelo
posts: 2,666
reviews: 11
7. Re: 9 days in Panama - please review my itinerary

There used to be a place in Balboa, but it has been closed for a couple of years. Panama hats are not made in Panama. They are imported from Ecuador. You'll have more luck finding them in the U.S. than in Panama.

San Francisco...
posts: 49
8. Re: 9 days in Panama - please review my itinerary

Thanks, I know the origin of the Panama hats, but still thought they may be popular in Panama... that would be one of the gifts I wanted to bring from Panama.

Thank you.

Atlanta, Georgia...
Destination Expert
for Colon, Isla Grande, Portobelo
posts: 2,666
reviews: 11
9. Re: 9 days in Panama - please review my itinerary

You might want to consider taking back indiginous indian craftwork, such as molas from the Kunas; tagua and cocobolo carvings from the Emberá and Waounan and woven grass basketry from the Emberá. Panamanian coffee is also a good choice. If they like rum, bring back Abuelo Añejo de 7 Años.

10. Re: 9 days in Panama - please review my itinerary

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