Booked this trip on a whim through Living Social. Was nervous about all the unknown in traveling to Panama but found out there was nothing to be worried about. Stayed in one of the villas. Very luxurious and high quality construction. Beaches are BEAUTIFUL. The further down the island you go, the more private the beach. We were there in slow season and often had one of the remote beaches to ourselves. Not sure why October is slow season as it was perfect weather. It is true that the food options aren't the greatest but that wasn't important to us as we just wanted some peace and quiet. The food we did eat at the restaurant was plenty good enough for our tastes. I would compare this place to what Hawaii must have been like before it was commercialized. I highly recommend renting the golf cart as I think it enhances the experience. You tend to do more when you can get around easily. The only downside of this experience was getting the vacation booked. It took me many emails and phone calls to get a response and to finally get things arranged. I spoke to one of the owners about this part of the experience because I think it is something they really need to improve. This place is too wonderful to allow poor reservation service to bring them down.
I'm offering some general notes about Panama City that would have helped me:
1. While Panama City is run down and filled with poor people, it is still safe. People tend to be poor because they don't want to work, which makes them less interested in material things and not necessarily interested in stealing or using violence to get things.
2. There are no street signs so you must use GPS to get around. We learned this the hard way and ended up having to have the police escort us to our first hotel which was in the mountains off of Panama City (not Red Frog Beach). The police were very friendly and helpful.
3. Car rental in Panama City is not standard to any place I've ever been, even though I used a national rental place (Hertz). They swipe your credit card and make you sign 3 blank receipts so they can fill it in if you damage your vehicle or incur other charges. This made me very nervous but I hadn't arranged for any other transport so I felt stuck. I don't know that I would rent again as you really are exposing yourself to possible unwarranted charges. Side note, there are no signs at Albrook telling you where to return your rental car. We ended up just parking in a side parking lot and putting the keys in their drop box. This worked out ok but felt very risky.
3. The flight from Panama City to Bocas is expensive. Additionally, you have to pay for a shuttle between the international airport and the local airport . Next time I would fly into San Juan Costa Rica and drive or bus the 5 hours to Bocas. Much simpler and cheaper. Also, the flight to Bocas allows only 30lbs of luggage. This is very limiting so I will avoid this in the future.
4. Panama City is beautiful and a trip to old town is a must. We only had a few hours on our way out of town and we were lucky enough to find a cab driver that had some time on his hands to give us the royal tour. The people of Panama are wonderful!
All in all it was wonderful and I can't wait to go back someday.
All the Villas are beautiful. You can't go wrong.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.