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New to Panama Forum..need some help planning a trip.

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New to Panama Forum..need some help planning a trip.

We are planning a trip in mid to late July 2012. I have been doing some research and getting a little over whelmed. We are thinking about 10 to 11 nights. first night and last nt was thinking some place close to airport as we will be coming in late and leaving early. Then I was thinking Portobelo for 2 nights hubby and son was to scuba dive. So far, I haven't found any place I would want to stay in. The four points Sheraton doesn't look bad, but a little more then what I want to spend. Looking around 100.00 a nt. Are there any other places close by. Next would like one nt El valle de Anton, on are way to Coiba Island for 3 nts for scuba diving. then maybe back to El Valle for a night. Then back to some where around the city for 2 or three nts. Things I want to see and do wildlife, turtles on the beach, Amador causeway, Casco Viejo,PC and any other suggestions. I'm not sure how to put this all in order. We will also be renting a car the following day. Any hotel suggestion in these areas would be nice. i will not be scuba diving ,so a pool would be nice at any suggested hotels. Thanks in advance

Atlanta, Georgia...
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for Colon, Isla Grande, Portobelo
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1. Re: New to Panama Forum..need some help planning a trip.

I wouldn't recommend staying near the airport. Except for the Riande Aeropuerto, you won't find any restaurants, either. There are much better places in town for less money and a great variety of restaurants. Also, for the things you want to do, you'll need a day/night or two in the city. Staying at the airport is a long way from Amador and Casco Viejo.

The only place with a pool around Portobelo is El Otro Lado, which bills itself as a "private retreat." It is across the bay from Portobelo and very isolated. The cottages run from almost $400 to over $900 per night.

I would definitely not recommend staying in Colon. Colon has a well deserved reputation for not being a safe city. Plus, it's a 50 minute commute to Portobelo for diving.

Other lodging around the area is rustic and much less expensive. I prefer Scubapanama and Sunset Cabins (same place). The cabins are small and rustic but clean. While there isn't a pool to lounge around, while your husband and son are diving, you can go along and spend the time on Scubapanama's island (Buena Ventura) or on the beach at La Huerta -- a very picturesque, horseshoe shaped cove surrounded by jungle and palms. There is nice snorkeling at both locations, too.

If you're actually planning to stay on Coiba, I hope you're prepared for very primitive. It's as close to sleeping in a tent as you can get. Coiba is still in its transition phase from being Panama's Devils Island. There are still some convicts there, and visitors are warned against exploring on their own. You may want to stay in Santa Catalina where a couple of the dive ops are located. Be prepared for the better part of a day of driving in each direction.

For hiking, exploring the jungle and seeing wildlife, El Valle is a good place to go.

I think your plan looks like fun and pretty well thought out.

One other point. I assume you're planning on renting a car. That's great for outside the city. But, while you're in the city, stick to using taxis. They're plentiful and cheap (compared to US fares). Trying to drive in the city is horrendous.

Have a great trip!

London UK
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2. Re: New to Panama Forum..need some help planning a trip.

We are just back from Panama and we stayed in the Old City. We used a company called Truly Panama as our transportation from our cruise ship to Porto Belo and to the Old City within Panama City. For our traveling companion, they put together some nature trips and some extreme sports. For us, it was history and culture. They also took us to the airport. The drivers are good and the vans are really top-notch. Why drive to dive places when you can get them to take you there and pick you up? Highly recommended and nice guys.

Corpus Christi...
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3. Re: New to Panama Forum..need some help planning a trip.

The easiest access to Coiba is from Santa Catalina. There are two very good dive operators there and a number of places to stay. They can also help you arrange overnight at the Rangers Station on Isla Coiba. This site has most of what you would need to know about Santa Catalilna and Coiba


Panama City, Panama
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4. Re: New to Panama Forum..need some help planning a trip.

Here's another great day excursion:http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g1193053-d1997597-Reviews-Jungle_Land_Panama_Day_Excursions-Gamboa.html

When in El Valle be sure to look up Casa de Lourdes Restaurant: tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g1193053-d…

Take taxis in the city, make sure to ask rate first as many take advantage of the Gringo. Nothing in the city should be over $10. You can actually hire one for the whole day for $20

Another great transportation company: www.panamaroadrunner.com

$99 hotel in the city, Torres de Alaba:http://www.torresdealba.com.pa/cms/

Huge room although the layout to the room is a bit whacky, make sure you have the desk person show you the correct elevator. Includes breakfast, next to the Venato Hotel and located in a hip area. The Wine Cellar restaurant is across the street and high recommend.

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5. Re: New to Panama Forum..need some help planning a trip.

Thanks for all the info. I will definitely use taxis in the city. We will not be staying on Coiba Island . My husband and son are just going diving around it. We may try and do a day tour, if there are any. Austingolfand which one of the two dive shops is the best? Thanks again

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6. Re: New to Panama Forum..need some help planning a trip.

Hello all, I am arriving to Panama City on Mar.24th and am looking for a safe buy inexpensive hotel near the airport.. I have two friends arriving on mar.25th. I will be by myself the first nite, and I don't speak any spansih..any suggestions of where I can stay?

Also, I am hoping to learn the history and culture of Panama. Hoping to see indigenous people and how they live. Surfing, enjoy some beach life and enjoy good cultural food. We also plan on staying at hostels, not sure what area we will venture into but we do want to avoid the dangerous ones. If anybody has any suggestions, or tips it would be much appreciated.


Knoxville, Tennessee
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7. Re: New to Panama Forum..need some help planning a trip.

coastjam, This is how I kept my sanity while planning a two week, coast to coast, north to south first trip to Panama. I researched Trip Advisor old & new posts, research places that interested us and explored countless other forums & blogs. Then I placed ten yellow Post-its on the wall and dated them like a calendar and wrote on each day detailed info from arrival times; hotel reservations, where & what we are doing on that day. At least you can step back and look at the big picture! Hope this helps. (Yea, I'm not of the electronic generation as I'm sure there's an "App" for this).

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8. Re: New to Panama Forum..need some help planning a trip.

Thanks Jamiew50. That's sounds like a good idea. Have you taken your trip yet?

Creston, Canada
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9. Re: New to Panama Forum..need some help planning a trip.

In El Valle de Anton we stayed at Anton Valley Hotel, not fancy, but very clean and in a good central location

When planning, I print blank calenders, then fill in blanks as I book hotels, cars , etc.

Don't leave things to late, many people book several months in advance.

We just got back from 5 weeks on ABC islands and already thinking about next trip

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10. Re: New to Panama Forum..need some help planning a trip.

You don't need to stay out by the airport the first night.

Have your friends meet you in Casco viejo. Luna Castle and Magnolia Inn are good hostel options. If you stay here you will not be alone while waiting for your friends. The people we have met are wonderful outgoing travelers of all ages and backgrounds.

If you go to Casco area, you can walk to shops food etc.