It’s January 4th, and the weather on the Canadian West Coast is not at its best. Rain, snow, wind, you name it! I’m impatiently sitting at my gate waiting to board my flight. I’m so ready to leave the miserable weather and migrate south to a warmer and sunnier destination. Panama!
On my way down to Central America, I made the most of an overnight layover in Houston to go explore the city for an afternoon. Having done a bit of research I found out there are so many things to discover in Houston. But with such little time and the fact that Houston is one of the top five largest cities in the US I decided to stick to one area: Montrose. Known for its art galleries, locally-owned eateries, and small cafes, Montrose is a vibrant neighborhood with a thriving LGBTQ community.
I got up early the next day for the last leg of my journey down to Panama. A twenty-minute Lyft ride, and a four and half hour flight later I finally landed in Panama City. Is it just me or does anyone else love that feeling of stepping off the plane and getting hit by a wall of warm tropical air? I waited for my friends Robin and Rogier to arrive from Amsterdam, we got our rental car, and we were all set to go explore the country!
Before we hit the road we stayed in Panama City for a night so we could go explore the city. Driving from Tocumen International Airport passing through a jungle of skyscrapers we headed towards San Felipe, Panama City’s old quarters, also known as Casco Viejo. We walked through narrow streets, lined with cafes, shops, apartments, and small local craft stores.
The following day we set off towards David, one of our overnight stops before heading across the country to Bocas Del Toro on the Caribbean side. On our way we had planned several activities, our first one was a stop at Los Cajones de Chame. Just 90 minutes from Panama City, this canyon formed by the Chame river is a great spot for a dip to cool off from the heat.
Our next stop was a bit of a hidden gem and took us a while to figure out how to get there. Tucked in the Coclé Province, Cerro El Picacho de Ola are these beautiful hills and peaks covered in tall grass. We decided to head up there on a sunrise mission, and let me tell you getting up at 4 am was 100% worth it!
Following our early morning hike, we continued our road trip to David where we stayed the night. There wasn’t much to do in David, so we decided to make our way to Bocas Del Toro early the next day. On our way through the Chiriquí highlands, we stopped for a much-needed coffee and met some local four-legged furry friends... both on the ground and up in the trees.
We arrived in Almirante on Panama’s Caribbean coast in the afternoon to catch a water taxi that would take us to Bocas Town. The water taxi dropped us off in the middle of Bocas Town, from there we hailed a taxi that took us to our bed and breakfast Casa Coco, about 10mins away. Casa Coco, or Coco’s house, is named after the resident brown lab who loved to play fetch with coconuts, hence his name I guess.
A short walk from our accommodation was a hostel, Skully’s House, which had a bar that served some tasty classics. We walked there for a late lunch and some well deserved cold beers. Oh and we met more local four-legged furry friends.
The next day we hopped on some bikes and cycled to Bluff beach on the east side of the island. The 30-minute bike ride took us through, gravel, sand, water, and mud and got us to the southern end of this spectacular beach. The waves were roaring and the haze that came from the huge swells made the scenery even more special. We walked the length of the beach and chilled until golden hour before heading back to Casa Coco.
After spending two days exploring Bocas Del Toro we headed back towards Panama’s Pacific coast. We stopped for a night in Boquete a small highland town nestled in the Panamanian jungle. There we ventured in the thick jungle to some waterfalls. The short hike led us to three different waterfalls, each one more breathtaking than the other. A quick dip in the freezing cold water was welcoming in the grueling tropical heat.
And just like that our 10 days road trip across Panama came to a close. From the Pacific to the Caribbean coast, we saw so much and yet so little in such a short period of time... This definitely calls for a part two!