Panama questions

May 18th, 2004, 05:53 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,066
Panama questions

I have tickets on 'hold' for a two week trip to Panama in January. I know it's a long ways off, but we're using FF miles. Anyway, I need some advice.

Do you think two weeks is too long? Thinking we want to spend some major time in Bocas del Toro, would also like to spend two or three nights in the San Blas Islands. And would like to stay in some sort of jungle lodge with good day hiking trips. Plus, if the timing is right would like to do a partial transit of the canal.

Any and all suggestions welcome. We've been to Costa Rica a couple times, Belize and Mexico as well. In our mid 50's, like to snorkel. Mid range accomodations, generally, with an occasional splurge.

Thanks in advance. Jean
JeanH is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 06:43 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,676
Wow, JeanH, you could be us! I'm very interested in the answers to this post. We haven't booked our trip yet and are hoping to go in February -if I can use FF miles, that's what I'll do.
SusanInToronto is offline  
May 18th, 2004, 05:49 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 621
I just got back from Panama and in my opinion, anyone could *EASILY* fill two weeks and still leave with LOTS of cool things left undone.

Bocas del Toro and San Blas both sound like great options. The partial canal transit is fun, but if you'll be there the 3rd Saturday in the month, you could instead do the FULL transit, which has the benefit of letting you see the Gaillard cut and Lake Gatun (which you miss out on with the partial transit). Yeah...a full transit is a VERY full day, but it's a LOT of fun.

I put a few snapshots and thoughts online at:
http://www.tiogringo.com/panama.html

Have fun!
Mark
TioGringo is offline  
May 19th, 2004, 03:46 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,066
Mark, Thanks for the advice. Do you have any favorite places to stay? There certainly doesn't seem to be the wealth of information out there like there is for Costa Rica.

Jean
JeanH is offline  
May 19th, 2004, 08:09 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 232
We spent ten days in Panama in March, and it was great. It was my favoirte Central American country. I wrote a trip report, and I'll move it back to the top so you can see it. Let me know if you have any other questions once you read it.
lilla is offline  
May 19th, 2004, 09:33 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 621
Yep...I've got lots of recommendations, but take 'em for what they're worth ;-)

In Panama City: Bristol Hotel (hands down) --- the place is just SO strong on service and so dignified that I'd have happily paid twice the (admittedly discounted) rate that I snagged off the Leading Hotels web site (www.lhw.com). Very upscale. You'll even have a butler at your beck and call! Convenient central location too.

In Bocas del Toro: Punta Caracol is far and away the best, but only if your budget can stand it (the going rate for most standard hotels on Isla Colon seems to be $50). Punta Caracol charges considerably more, but it's also not a "standard" hotel -- its a small group of private cabanas built on stilts over the water and interconnected by a decks and walkways. Very earth friendly and environmentally conscious, but upscale, quiet, and romantic.

Also, Gamboa Rainforest Resort: Excellent digs with a wonderful view and a GREAT range of fun, eco-oriented activities (but schedule 'em early because they can fill up). Do birdwatching hikes in the rainforest, head up the canal in a group of zodiacs, kayak on the Chagres and the Panama Canal, ride the aerial lift up into the canopy. Service can be a bit spotty, and prices definitely high, but the quality of everything is very, very good (the nature programs were developed in conjunction with Smithsonian Institute). Loved having a balcony on the deck overlooking the Chagres.

Have fun!
Mark
www.tiogringo.com
TioGringo is offline  
May 19th, 2004, 12:31 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 5,869
A daylight Canal transit is a must!
Diving/Snorkling in the San Blas is great, but perhaps not to your standards.
Panama Bay has more (bad) sharks than most anywhere on earth.
Hiking in the Darien is a real trip!
M
mikemo is offline  
May 19th, 2004, 09:21 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 621
Couple more comments on places to stay in Panama City:

Intercontinental Miramar: *GREAT* location on the waterfront with spectacular views from the rooms on the ocean side. Excellent amenities too with plenty of tennis courts and a great swimming pool.

Town & Country: I don't usually do these kind of impersonal chain places, but this one really does have an excellent location right on the Amador Causeway -- you can watch the ships moving in and out of the channel to the Panama Canal.

Hotel Caesar Park: Gets a lot of good press, and it *IS* a nice hotel with a lot going for it (excellent food, excellent service), but I didn't care for its location, in a kind of residential area next to the convention center and with a view that I think is better described as "highway view" than "ocean view".

Have fun!
Mark
www.tiogringo.com
TioGringo is offline  
May 20th, 2004, 03:59 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,066
Thanks for the hotel advice. I guess I thought there would be more 'jungle lodge' type options, similar to those on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica.

This is going to be a fun trip to plan. Seems like it's such a long time from now, but when some of those hotels have five or 10 rooms, it's probably time to get moving.

Do you think a week in Bocas del Toro is too long? It really sounds like the kind of place that we enjoy.

Jean
JeanH is offline  
May 20th, 2004, 11:04 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 621
A week in Bocas? Well, it depends on you. What kind of traveler are you and what kinds of things do you like to do?

If you have to be constantly busy with tours and "sites" and activities, then yes, two weeks in Bocas WOULD be (far) too long.

Most of the area is undeveloped and sparsely populated (which is what makes it so cool). If your idea of heaven is just hanging out on a casual, laid back island, enjoying life and relaxing, then no, two weeks wouldn't be too long (a lifetime wouldn't be too long).

Bocas is also a good place for people into things like surfing, sailing, scuba diving (though I've heard the waters get murky during the rainier seasons, so diving would probably be best from around February - May).

If you're not sure whether or not you'd like it, you could always split your time, spending some of that two weeks elsewhere.

Have fun!
Mark
www.tiogringo.com
TioGringo is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:06 AM.