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#261618 - 01/04/08 03:54 PM Panama
RMT Offline

I know, I know. Off topic but I really trust the advice and opinions of the well traveled bunch around here. I know there had been some discussion on this before but for the life of me a search is not working. We have traveled extensively but just not to Panama.

Has anyone been to Bocas del Toros? Did you like it? What hotels would you recommend? Which island would you suggest to stay on? Isla Colon or others? We are traveling with our easy going 12 year old in March for about 10 days. We want to relax, snorkel and do tours. Based on what I am reading it sounds what AC was like a number of years ago. Any advice you can give me would be much appreciated. Thanks everyone! Rhonda smile

#261621 - 01/04/08 04:00 PM Re: Panama [Re: RMT]
ckocian Offline

A previous Ambergris Caye dweller's lodging accommodation in Bocas. We haven't visited yet but plan to do so.

#261676 - 01/04/08 09:33 PM Re: Panama [Re: ckocian]
RMT Offline
Thanks for your help Ckocian. It seems harder to find hotels there, or at least the right hotel than it does in Belize. Bit more rustic I guess. If you go soon please let me know how you make out. Thanks.

#261681 - 01/04/08 10:21 PM Re: Panama [Re: RMT]
belizelaw Offline
I went a couple of years ago on a whirlwind tour of Panama. It's hard to compare to Ambergris Caye other than the fact they are both islands.

The things I liked about Bocas (and I'm speaking of Isla Colon) better than Ambergris Caye were: lower food and hotel costs; a little less touristy atmosphere, paved roads, rolling hills and lush scenery, with surfing beaches.

There were three main things that I liked less about Bocas:
1. That the real estate prices were very high considering the state of development it was in.
2. It wasn't as convenient to get to (you just about had to stay in Panama City the first night when you arrived from the States).
3. No real beaches on the town front (it was just all right up to the water). You couldn't go for long walks on the beach like you could on A.C.

I stayed at Hotel Angela which (two Decembers ago), cost me $70 a night, breakfast included, with free internet. Clean but spartan accommodations, great host (retired military man from the states), but seemed a bit high considering what I got.

Since I've only been coming to A.C. for four years, I don't know, but I'd guess that Bocas has some similarities to an earlier time on Isla Bonita--that's what drew me to check it out. For me, the real estate scene (which is to a large degree how I look at a place) was very frustrating. As I said, prices were surprisingly high, even for off-water lots. Also, a lot of the land on the island is not titled but is right of possession (ROP), which, while cheaper, I'd be scared to touch as a gringo.

I took some pics a while back when I started my blog (I'm not advertising, b/c I don't make money--it's just a labor of love), and here's a link: http://investtheworld.blogspot.com/2005_12_01_archive.html . Unfortunately, I was just learning how to blog, so my day-by-day rantings are basically in reverse order, and my pictures are not of high quality. But hopefully it'll help some.

#261682 - 01/04/08 10:37 PM Re: Panama [Re: belizelaw]
RMT Offline
Hi Belizelaw,

I have read your blog before, very interesting and very extensive.

Thank you for your thoughts. I seem to be encountering just what you stated about your hotel, just okay places for the $$. It's funny but this then always reminds me why we love AC so much! That said I will keep researching as we really do want to see Panama. I will look at Hotel Angela as well.

Thanks again for your help and I will continue to check out your blog as it's on my "favorites". :)Thanks again, Rhonda

#261690 - 01/04/08 11:55 PM Re: Panama [Re: RMT]
seashell Offline
LaurieMar and Gela will probably be along soon to add to this thread. Laurie really likes Hotel Angela.

I've often thought that Susan Garcia's (Guzman-Garcia?) apartment might be a nice place to stay too. She used to own at Paradise Villas and was a big contributor to this message board until she and her husband moved to Panama to become real estate magnates there. smile

Edited by seashell (01/04/08 11:57 PM)
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?

#261698 - 01/05/08 12:27 AM Re: Panama [Re: seashell]
RMT Offline
Hey SS!

I just looked at Hotel Angela and it looks perfect for our needs! I am going to email them now. Thank you SO much. I somehow missed this one.

I remember Susan on here and that she moved there. I will check and see if I can find her place as well. Thanks again!

#261703 - 01/05/08 12:48 AM Re: Panama [Re: RMT]
seashell Offline
You are most welcome. Wish I had first hand experience to offer. But don't worry, as soon as LaurieMar and/or Gela show up, they'll have lots to share with you, I'm sure.
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?

#261710 - 01/05/08 08:11 AM Re: Panama [Re: seashell]
belizelaw Offline
You know, I've been to Panama twice, really loved it, but have yet to go with my wife--I need to get her down there! I should mention--which I think you've already figured out--that there are more islands in Bocas than just Isla Colon. I took a boat trip one day and looked around some of the other islands (didn't stop on them, though), and they looked more beautiful and less inhabited than Isla Colon. If you were looking for a pure do-nothing getaway, they may work for you. But most of the other islands were much smaller, and consisted, at most, of a few houses (one island I saw had houses on the beachfront, but no roads). Here again, you'll have to factor in more travel time than you probably did in Belize. Because now, you're talking about a flight to Panama, possible stay overnight in the City (which is very nice, by the way), an hour flight to Isla Colon, then a boat ride to the smaller islands.

#261713 - 01/05/08 09:13 AM Re: Panama [Re: belizelaw]
JeanH Offline
We spent a week on Bocas a couple years ago. Stayed at Cocomo by the Sea, just up the road from the above mentioned Angela. Only four rooms, breakfast included, small 'honor bar' with sodas, water and beer. The outside, covered eating lounging area was pleasant.

We were unfortunate to visit during a very rainy period. It rains a lot in Bocas anyway, but this was way excessive. The road between Panama and Costa Rica washed out and was closed.

Anyway, despite the not so great weather we enjoyed our stay. You can catch a boat to other islands for a couple dollars. Bastimentos has some great beaches, Red Frog beach was awesome. Isla Carenero was mostly flooded when we were there. Good thing the houses were on stilts, it was a challenge to walk any where.

I keep thinking we should go back and try it again, but never get it done. As an aside, we also went to the San Blas islands on this trip. The Kuna Indians live there, accomodations are pretty rustic. At the time we were at one of the few lodges that had indoor plumbing. There was a lizard in the sink every morning. But, the snorkeling was awesome, the tour of the nearby village was fascinating. And the weather there was beautiful. The island we stayed on was about half way down the chain of islands, but the small plane flew all the way to the last one before the Colombian border and stopped at every airstrip coming back up the chain. The airstrip closest to Colombia was lined with soldiers with machine guns. I admit to wondering what in the world we'd gotten ourselves into. Then I saw one of the soldiers was standing with his arm around a little boy who was about four, I'm sure it would have been a Pulitzer winning photo if a talented camera person could have gotten the shot.

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