Ready for a new adventure, but want romance, beautiful beaches, and some luxury? Check out Panama!
As Panama continues to grow, and its capital, Panama City is attracting more foreigners, the country is becoming more popular as a sought after tourist destination in Central America. Historically known for the Panama Canal, Panama ventured into leisure tourism in the early 2000s and the country over the years has developed into an interesting mix of heritage, cultural, eco and adventure tourism. So this new and diverse destination has much to offer the discerning traveller and provides an ideal destination for couples looking for a more authentic type of travel experience.
A couple could come for a long weekend and have an
enjoyable time just staying in the city as there are loads of good restaurants, excellent shopping and interesting sights to see. There are lovely boutique hotels in the city such as the Bristol Hotel, near the financial district and the American Trade Hotel located in the newly renovated colonial part of town called Casco Viejo.
A typical day tour of Panama City could entail a walk around the local fruit market to taste the delicious homegrown tropical fruit, viewing the boats crossing the Panama Canal, with a lunch stop at the local fish market on the “Cinta Costera” where you can watch the fishmongers make fresh Ceviche while enjoying a refreshing Panamanian beer. Later that evening you could have a superb culinary experience at one of Panama City’s finest restaurants, Donde Jose in Casco Antiguo, where dishes are prepared in front of you by Chef Jose using solely Panamanian produce.
CENTRAL PACIFIC COAST:
The 80km or so of beach located West of Panama City stretching from Coronado to Buenaventura has seen a ton of growth in recent years and boasts a high end locale, Buenaventura where the JW Marriott resort is
located. This gated community is home to some of the largest and most expensive beach villas in the country with the JW Marriott offering some of the “best value for money” priced hotel rooms in Panama. The beach and amenities at the hotel are lovely and it is a great place to relax and rejuvenate with its own spa, beach club and 18-hole golf course.
THE MOUNTAINS OF BOQUETE:
While plenty of visitors go to Panama to escape the cold in search of sandy beaches and lots of sunshine, others want to enjoy the cooler climate and terrain that the tropical mountain areas offer. The most popular of those areas is Boquete, a community located in Panama’s NorthWestern Chiriqui province at the foothills of the Baru Volcano.
In addition, the beautiful mountains of El Valle which is a scenic two and a half hour drive from Panama City offers a tranquil vacation escape as you can stay at the Los Mandarinos hotel and experience their gorgeous facility with its own spa and restaurants built directly within this mountainside community.
COLON ON THE CARIBBEAN COAST:
A short two-hour drive outside the city to the Caribbean coast of Panama is the quaint rural town of Colon. This is where you can vacation at a lovely beachfront villa along the Caribbean coast. Linton Bay is a particularly picturesque area and has a newly established marina, the Linton Bay Marina, and is a perfect spot for sailing enthusiasts.
BOCAS del TORO ARCHIPELAGO:
The Bocas del Toro Archipelago is a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea located to the Northwest of Panama and is accessible by plane as it has its own international airport located on Isla Colon. The islands are accessible by ferries, waiter taxis and private yachts. This group of islands has a variety of accommodation which is nestled in the heart of Panamanian culture ensuring an authentic experience for any couple that is looking for more of a localized vacation.
Nicole Haughton is a freelance tourism consultant currently working with the NAMU Travel Group doing business development support for the following Central American markets: Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Her past experience includes working with the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) in the position of Senior Assistant to the Director of Tourism from June 2009 to March 2014 with an overseas assignment from October 2011 to September 2012 in Berlin, Germany where she worked at the Embassy of Jamaica as Tourism Attaché responsible for emerging European markets.