Panama Premier Rentals

Did You KNOW?

The most expensive toll for the Panama Canal passage to date was charged on 30 May 2006 to the container ship Maersk Dellys, which paid US$249,165.00 for passage. The least expensive toll was 36 cents to American adventurer Richard Halliburton who swam the canal in 1928. The average toll is around US$54,000.

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Things To Do in Panama

Isla Contadora

Friday, January 25, 2008

We decided to take a vacation and head off to the Pearl Islands.  Grabbed the kids, packed a bag and headed into the city on Sunday.  We hadn't made any reservations at hotels figuring we'd be ok on a Sunday night.  The first 2 hotels we stopped at were booked (Plaza Paitilla and Decapolis) so we made a quick pit stop at the Bristol.  They had one room.  What the heck -  we're on vacation.  On Monday, we caught the 10am AirPanama 15 minute flight to Isla Contadora.  It's definitely a sleepy island.  We had made tentative reservations to stay at Hotel Contadora but when you step off the runway, the Hotel Punta Galeon is right there so we decided to try this hotel instead.  Apparently owned by Peruvians and rarely full, we stepped into our little hotel room - a double and a twin.  Neat, tidy and every room has an amazing view of the ocean.  We immediately rented a golf cart to explore the island.  Ended up on the other side at the Hotel Romantica restaurant.  We ordered our food and headed down to the beach below.

The sand on Isla Contadora is the softest white sand beach I think I've ever been to.  The tide was low...perfect for exploring the rocky areas.  We spent the rest of the day exploring, swimming at the hotel pool, playing at the park and relaxing, and thinking up stories about the pirates that invaded this area - a favorite activity of Max's.  At one point we ended up on what I believe is the only nude beach in Panama.  I tentatively looked around.  Ok good, there's no one here, I can take off my clothes.  Just kidding.  That's not really my thing.  But with the kids there, I just really didn't want to have to answer why grandpa doesn't have any swimming suit on. 

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 The beach here had beautiful sky blue, smooth rocks.  I'm not a geologist and never had much interest in rocks but these were really amazing.  I couldn't resist collecting some to take home and use in one of my glass vases.  As we drove away from the nude beach, we drove by what I dubbed the "refrigerator section" due to its high volume of discarded appliances, and there was a deer.  Apparently someone brought over several hundred deer 40 years ago and it's become a real problem for the airplanes.  Today, the guide said there were probably less than 100 left but they're so tame, they'll eat right out of your hand.The next morning we arranged for a 2 hour boat tour.  We headed out with our Tour Guide on the boat.  He showed us the islands where they filmed "Survivor".  He also showed us the house on the islands where the losers got to stay after they were booted.  Really nice digs.  Beautiful house on a cliff overlooking the water.  White sandy beaches below.  Hammocks in a private bungalow.  Not so bad to be a loser.

We stopped off on the island and jumped in to snorkel.  It was Max's first time and the fish we saw were gorgeous.  Lila decided to just swim it with me  Then we all loaded back up to head off to another beautiful island.  Lila was quick to find a sand dollar and other beautiful shells.  We walked across the beach and up through the mangroves.  Truly amazing.


That afternoon we took golf carting to a whole new dimension.  It was more like 4 wheeling, except with a golf cart and no helmuts and 4 people in the front seat and going 5 mph.  But we did take on some treacherous paths and there were times I was planning on how to safely make an exit.  Ok Coley you're in charge of Max and I'll jump with Lila.  But after Coley told me just to relax, I realized there was really no way we'd be able to survive if our brakes went out so I just went with it. 

On Hotel Contadora's beach we explored an old abandoned ferry (see photo below).  I wonder what that story was.  Max thought it had something to do with pirates.  We stopped at the airport and watched the 20 seater planes take off and land.  Back at the hotel, we played pool and foosball.  Drank our fair share of pina coladas which were very very good by the way. 

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The next day we headed out.  The airplane even allowed us to board even though we had lost our boarding passes.  So laid back, just my style.

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Posted by on 01/25 at 11:13 AM
Things To Do in Panama


Sunday afternoon 4 wheeling

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sundays are the same anywhere you live.  No matter where we live, we´re always searching for some way to kill time Sunday afternoons. 

The day started off a bit dreary and very humid with no breeze at all.  We went to the pool at 8:30 in the morning, the kids played with some friends, Ziggy met a Beagle friend and then we were home by 11am.  Ok so now what do we do with the rest of the day? 

Finally around 1pm, we couldn't stand it any longer.  We knew the tide was low so we decided to rent two 4-wheelers, load the kiddos up and take a right.  When you walk out onto the beach in Buenaventura, you can go left to cross a river.  This way takes you past a small fishing village, the President's weekend home, the soon to be Nikki Beach, Playa Blanca Hotel and Resort and then onto to Farallon.  If you look to the right and cross this river, you'll pass a small town called Juan Hombron and then nothing, nothing, nothing but a deserted white sand beach for about 4 miles until you reach an impassable river.  We decided to go this way.

We headed out and crossed the river noting that the tide was coming in.  We drove along at a nice clip - 40 kph or so - racing with a few dogs, spying a few rather large dead stingrays, chasing down a few seagulls.  After the town of Juan Hombron, the beach is absolutely deserted.  I did see some tracks from other 4 wheelers so someone had been down this way today but no footprints, no horse tracks, nothing else.  It was amazing and I kept thinking that this beach is probably pretty close to what it was like for the first explorers to come across this land.  It was completely untouched. 

With Max in front, we pulled off the beach to see what was beyond the tall grass line.  It was an absolutely beautiful river flowing parallel to the ocean.  And of course my second thought was Wow, I'll bet there are some big crocs in there.  Max asked if he could swim and I responded No Way even before he had finished his question.

We drove back to the beach and continued on for a few more minutes until we saw the mouth of the river opening up into the ocean.  Max and I were ahead and I slowly pulled up to the bank.  Something jumped into the water.  Coley and Lila drove up next to us.  I told him there was something in that river.  And that's when we both looked halfway across the river and saw what it was.  It was the head of a very large crocodile...probably a 6 or 7 footer.  We watched it watch us as it slowly crossed the river to the other side and duck under water.  Wow.  Definitely no swimming here.

I then looked behind and saw an unending trail of seashells that had yet to be discovered.  We moved our bikes away from the water and hopped down to explore.  The 4 of us collected some of the most beautiful seashells to date. 

We hopped back on, returning across the untouched beach, stopping to throw a dying pufferfish back into the water, inspecting the carcasses of some wildlife, waving hola to a Panamanian family.  We were barely able to cross the river back to the Buenaventura property.  A few minutes later and it would have been a long drive around the river but Coley was able to get both vehicles across while I waded with the kids.  We lost a few of the shells but Max was sure to hold tight to the sticks he had found. 

Posted by on 09/16 at 08:46 PM
Things To Do in Panama


Isla Grande

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On Friday we decided to take off for Isla Grande for a night. 

Isla Grande is a popular place in Panama that people simply know as "La Isla" (The Island). The island is inside the Portobelo National park, just 5 minutos by motor boat from the small town of La Guaira on the main land that makes its living out fishing and tourism.

Isla grande has a population of about 300 inhabitants and its surface is mostly covered with plants and trees and its shoreline is surrounded by coral reefs. It is one of the favorit panamaninan turist destinations and on holidays it receives visitors that fill its small beaches and its narrow town roads.

We headed out at noon on Friday with the 2 kids and Ziggy, our new puppy.  We took the highway until the turn off for Colon.  The total trip should have taken no more than 4 hours BUT we hit traffic and construction on the road to Colon.  There were a couple of times we were at an absolute standstill for at least 30 mins.  We finally arrived at the boat dock for Isla Grande 6 hours later.  Long time.  The weather was decent that night and we decided to stay at a place called Sister Moon.  Unloaded our stuff and headed into town - a short 10 minute walk - with the whole crew. 

The town is definitely a laid back Carribean-style setting.  We ordered hamburgers for the kids and seafood for us.  The food was decent as was the price.  I think the 4 of us ate and had drinks for $20.00.

Headed back home for the night.  Everyone was exhausted.  No AC in Sister Moon but it was a cool rainy night and with a fan, we actually were quite comfortable.  Everyone fell right to sleep but I have this problem.  I guess it's from watching too many Tsunami video clips and this happened to me on the San Blas Islands as well, but if I can hear the waves breaking and they're basically underneath me or the structure could slide into the water, I can't sleep.  I woke up at least 12 times thinking for sure we were all going to die while everyone else snoozed the night away.

Woke up the next morning at 5am because the kids were ready to go.  Headed to the pool for a quick swim and then into town again for breakfast.  Luckily some places start serving at 7am.  We hadn't gotten halfway through our meal when the clouds started rolling in.  I asked a local if the rain was coming and he said not until much later.  I didn't buy it.  Those dark clouds were rolling in too fast.  And sure enough the rain came and it came in sheets.  We hung out for about an hour and it started letting up but then it came down again.

By 9:30am, we had decided enough was enough.  The rain wasn't going to stop at least for half the day and we decided to pack it up.  We packed our things, took a boat back over ($7.00 total) and got into the car.  We could hear the Howler Monkeys as we headed towards Portabelo for the Fort ruins.  And the trip home was less than 4 hours with a stop to McDonald's in Colon.

We had a great adventure and I would do it again, but I think I'll wait until the dry season.

Posted by on 09/11 at 10:49 AM
Things To Do in Panama


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Vacation rental information, travel tips and advice, and general observations about life at "The Crossroads of the World" from an American and a Canadian on the ground in Panama.

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