How does Panama compare to Costa Rica?

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Jul 22nd, 2008, 08:49 AM
  #1
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How does Panama compare to Costa Rica?

I am curious if Panama is similar to Costa Rica...how does it compare as far as natural beauty, roads, safety...

In Costa Rica, we visited beaches along the coast from Manuel Antonio to Jaco. I am looking for clear blue water....will I find it in Panama? What I read & see in photos leads me to believe that the beaches are more tropical & offer clear blue water....is this accurate?

There were many gorgeous sights in Costa Rica but we were really disappointed in the beaches that we visited...just not what we were expecting....maybe we need to explore other areas of Costa Rica next time to find what we are looking for or maybe Costa Rica is not the place to look for great tropical beaches?

Anyone know how Panama would compare....where have you been in Panama & what did you like best?
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Jul 22nd, 2008, 09:41 AM
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rat, have you thought about Belize at all? You'll get pretty beaches and good snorkeling and diving with clear water.
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Jul 22nd, 2008, 10:21 AM
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Panama is a spectacularly beautiful country with gorgeous beaches. It is relatively safe (obviously there are pockets of higher risk in the urban areas), the water quality is pretty good and the food is wonderful.
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Jul 22nd, 2008, 10:48 AM
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Crystal clear water in San Blas Islands.

Crystal clear water off Isla Secas(an adventure to get to, lol!)

Panama does offer (in areas) whiter sand beaches and clearer water than Costa Rica.

We've been to both a few times & love both. They do have lots of similarities, actually Panama has better roads. It's a great country & we were die hard Costa Rica fans....
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Jul 22nd, 2008, 11:36 AM
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Panama City is way more cosmopolitan than San Jose. Panama City also has some pretty dangerous parts of town where you shouldn't venture day or night, but any hotel staffer can let you know the lay of the land.

As mentioned above, Panama's roads are far superior to Costa Rica's. Whose aren't?

Although I can think of many good things to say about Costa Rica, its beaches are not its strong point. You can do better than Costa Rica for a beach vacation. Panama is one of those places.
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Jul 22nd, 2008, 12:08 PM
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I love Belize, but I don't think you're going to find the type of beachs that you're looking for there either.

We did find stunning beaches in the San Blas islands in Panama.

We also enjoyed the beaches on Bastimentos, part of Bocas del Toro.
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Jul 22nd, 2008, 02:38 PM
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www.enjoypanama.com

MA #1 and Tortuga in CR for me very nice but overall you are right beaches not great.Panama beaches on the islands generally better San
Blas and Contadora.In Panama though
coastal pacific beaches not great
good for suring.Clear blue water
found off shore on islands in both countries due to no cloudy river run-off.
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Jul 22nd, 2008, 02:39 PM
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oops typo meant MA beach #3...excellent swimming beach
usually.
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Jul 22nd, 2008, 07:29 PM
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MA Beach number 3 is one of our alltime faves, love it.

Panama City is one very cool town. I mean seriously....`The Donald`is building there!!!
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Jul 23rd, 2008, 04:57 AM
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I agree, Panama City if cool. I was expecting another San Jose, but Panama City was fun. Completely different vibe. Lots of great (and cheap) restaurants. Casinos (if you're into gambling).
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Jul 23rd, 2008, 04:50 PM
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I visited 3 times CR,is a nice country,my prefered places for explore was the volcanos,the area surround Punta Arenas and some beaches at the atlantic side(La Costanera) are goods,just for see and take some pictures,BUT definitely the Atlantic side in Panama offer really good beaches for practice any kind of sports(dive,fish)also snorkel.
Try looking in La Guaira in ISLA GRANDE,my family and i visited this place the last April,we stayed 2 nights($70 per night in double room with a/c),in a little house in front of the beach(BLUE WATER/WITHE SANDS WITH SPECTACULAR LANDSCAPES)
You can dinner a REALLY BIG corvina,''i think the word in english for corvina is sea bass or red bass'' cocked by a black local woman at local style just for 5 bucks.
The better beaches in Panama are at more than 3 hours from the city(Atlantic side)
Other higher quality hotel in front of Gran Island is Bananas Resort($110 per night)they offer transfer from PC in a full package tour.
This hotel is in a little island in front of La Guaira,the owners are from Spain.
I am a cab driver,believe i drove in any corner of my Panama,probably more than 90 percent of the roads are goods,despite we are in the rainy season the goverment is always trying to modernize the roads outside the city.
Like every country in the whole world,we have good and bad people,good places for walk and explore and others'not to good'.
WE HAVE THE LOWER CRIMINAL LEVELS IN CENTRAL AMERICA.
Hope u enjoy Panama!
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Jul 23rd, 2008, 06:08 PM
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I agree, Isla Grande is super....spent 5 nights there last Feb. Good snorkeling, inexpensive lodging(we stayed at Sister Moon). And food was awesome(and fresh). As well, close to PC(relatively).
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Jul 23rd, 2008, 10:33 PM
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Costa Rica offers some of the most spectacular beaches. A must stop is Malintinis Restaurant and Bar. If you are heading to the beach or returning, you should stop here for the freshest Seafood and Reasonable pricing.
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Jul 24th, 2008, 02:35 AM
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I am finding this thread very interesting. What we loved about Costa Rica was all of the incredible wildlife -- we saw four kinds of monkeys, scarlet macaws, toucans, sloths, blue morpho butterflies, etc. Does Panama have rainforests with this kind of wildlife like Costa Rica has?
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Jul 24th, 2008, 03:52 AM
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Lisa, absolutely! Panama has rainforest, cloudforest and a marvelous variety of wildlife, especially birds. My friends who are birders rate it as one of the great viewing opportunities in the world.
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Jul 25th, 2008, 02:00 PM
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Thank you for all the great info & feedback; I have checked out some of the suggested areas online & have saved websites for future planning.
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Jul 29th, 2008, 08:59 PM
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we have 894 different species of birds,the 10 percent of all the species in the world,2500 different kinds of trees,284 mammals,384 reptils,Panama means in the old indian language a lot of butterflies,fishes and trees.
75 percent of all the Panama territory is green areas,29 wildlife reserves,AMAZING NUMBERS!!!
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Aug 13th, 2008, 09:32 AM
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I have lived in Costa Rica for 18 years and now 3 in Panama.

I would like to add to the other comments that the roads are 10x better in Panama, it's safer and you can see more in one day than in Costa Rica in 2-3 days as Panama City and surroundings are a destination in itself why San Jose is more like a necessary evil.

The nice beaches are not close to the city but a hour away (on great roads). Or, 40 minutes by plane.

The people in Costa Rica are generally a little friendlier and more service minded. Panama is just getting started with tourism and there are not as many places to stay at the beaches.

Besides the Panama Canal a trip to the Embera is a must do. A train trip along the Istmus is also great fun. Fishing is good (at sea or on the Gatun lake) and for picture perfect bounty beaches nothing beats San Blas (Kuna Yala).

We had a great time in Costa Rica but we plan to stay in Panama!

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