If you are looking for some sun, waterfalls and surfing in Panama and don’t mind roughing it in buses or hostels then you will have a blast! After escaping Panama cities hustle and bustle, we instantly fell in love with the beautiful beaches, tonnes of surf and very chilled out culture!
Panama’s Main Destinations
Playa Venao (Surf and snorkelling)
Our favourite destination was a surf beach on the Pacific coast called Playa Venao. It has a lovely beach, surf, waterfalls and tonnes of wildlife! Being one of our first destinations in Panama, this was where we saw plenty of new animals we had never seen before – including fireflies, toads, howling monkeys and a 9ft snake!
We also loved our hostel which was right on the beach with awesome owners and a great chilled out atmosphere. We highly recommend staying at Venao Cove Beach Hostel if you are on a budget, or you can investigate the private rooms they have available.
Santa Catalina (Surf Beach)
Not too much further around the coast is Santa Catalina which is also known for its surf! Most of the accommodation is a 15 minute walk over the hill via the road to the main surf spot. Unfortunately, Moss found it extremely difficult to find anywhere that rented a 6 foot surf board as most companies only hire long and learner boards. Therefore, if you are a serious surfer, make sure you either take your own board, or befriend a local that’s willing to lend you one like we did.
Bocas del Toro (Surf and diving/snorkelling)
It is a long drive to Bocas del Toro! Add on a detour to find a beach and a very foggy drive over the hills, and it took us a total of 12 hours to drive from El Valle to the car ferry at Almirante. We decided to sleep in the boot of our tiny car that night, and as uncomfortable as it was, we heard that we made the right decision because the hostel was pretty gruesome. After an uncomfortable night’s sleep we found the car ferry which costs US$25 to transport a car, or US$1 per person (one way). So, deciding to leave the car behind we jumped on the ferry, which after getting a closer look had far too many coats of paint and was a rust bucket that we half expected to sink at any moment! Note: there are also water taxis available which are much faster than the 2 hour car ferry. However, as you can expect, they cost a lot more than US$1!
Without even realising it, we arrived in Bocas del Toro right as the biggest swell in years was hitting the coastline and this attracted pro surfers including Kelly Slater and Sunny Garcier. It also meant that there was rain, rain and more RAIN! So, putting on our togs (bathers) and hiring bikes costing $2 per hour, we headed off along the road. What we didn’t realise was that the beach was also classed as road in some areas, therefore we were swamped by waves as we attempted to push our bikes through the surf and coral rocks.
It was a neat adventure, with talented/daring surfers to watch, cows with massive ears, moss breaking his jandals that had survived 8 months of travel and having to fix a broken bike chain in the middle of no where. Moss even snapped this awesome shot as a wave hit a log on the beach!!
Due to the stormy surf stirring everything up, diving was restricted to the sheltered areas and visibility wasn’t amazing, so we befriended one of the scuba diving companies and jumped on board their day trip with our snorkelling gear. We also caught a water taxi to Red Frog Beach. It cost US$3 per person to enter the beach and even though we saw no frogs, it is a lovely beach!
About 2 hour’s drive from Panama City, is a small town called El Valle which is built within an old volcanoes crater. We went on a Sunday to make the most of their market and even got sucked into purchasing two hammocks! Aside from the market, we didn’t really like El Valle. Yes you can walk or drive to the top of the hill for a great view of the crater but to be honest everything else was a bit of a disappointment. There are a few waterfalls in the area, including Puente Mama Chea which was far too overpriced costing about US$7 pp. We saw better waterfalls on the side of the road while driving to Bocas del Toro and its natural pool was nice for a cool down, but certainly was not ‘natural’.
Unfortnately due to me getting sick over new year’s, we couldn’t explore both Bocas del Toro and San Blas, so we will have to explore San Blas another day. From our research the tours look pricey but everyone says that it is beautiful!
The Panama Canal
It is just over 100 years since the Panama Canal was officially opened on August 15th 1914. We couldn’t leave Panama City without learning more about the Panama Canal. The Miraflores visitor center contains a museum which is pricey (US$15pp) but very well set up and we found it very interesting. Moss enjoyed driving a ship in the virtual simulation, and I enjoyed looking up my surname in the database of workers.
Panama’s currency and accommodation costs
We were surprised to discover Panama used US currency. In general, we were able to find accommodation for US$15 per person per night. We found cheap hotels for this price in Panama City, and stayed in hostels (with kitchens) for the same price while exploring the rest of Panama. You don’t need to book far in advance either. We generally booked 2 nights in advance (during the new year’s period). However, it may pay to book in advance if you have a specific hostel in mind. But for Bocas del Toro, there is so much accommodation available, we just wandered the streets and found accommodation upon arrival.
Hiring a car versus public transport in Panama
We didn’t realise how good public transport would be in Panama. We were one of few people travelling who hired our own car, costing US$25 day with insurance (as third party insurance is mandatory in Panama). To be honest, if we went to Panama again, I would just use public transport. For the amount of little side of the road stops and drama that we experienced with an immobiliser stalling our car for over 24 hours, it wasn’t really worth it!
Food in Panama
The side of the road stalls/small outdoor restaurants with food in cabinets are worth stopping at. Most places are likely to serve chicken with rice and beans, but take a look in the cabinet and be daring. I discovered what seemed to be a deep fried sweet corn fritter and they were AMAZING!! Not to mention the road side stalls are super cheap – one dinner we had with a drink of coke cost $7 for the two of us.
Extra advice for Panama
- You do not need a yellow fever vaccination to visit Panama
- We recommend carrying insect repellent with you
- While in Panama City, do not walk the streets with jewellery or expensive items. We did not have any trouble, but we were warned
- Christmas Eve is much more of a big deal than Christmas day itself! We flew in to Panama at 2am on Christmas morning and the view from the plane was incredible with fireworks in every direction
- Keep an eye out for the butterflies!
- If you do hire a car, petrol is extremely cheap! It cost us about US$30 to fill the tank of our car
Here Are 5 Essential Air Travel Tips That You Ought to Know About!
Taking a long vacation is all one can long for after experiencing a tough time at work or at home. That small break can you do your body, mind, and soul sound, especially when one is on the verge of a mental breakdown. You ought to plan yourself accordingly more so concerning your travel arrangements. It will enable you to have an adventurous time right from the time you leave your front door. Here are essential air travel tips that you must know about when planning for your trip.
Book your flights smartly
Booking any flight that appears on your schedule won’t do you any right; instead, it might cost you lots of cash. You ought to be flexible as you check out Sydney to Hong Kong flight time. You ought to check out various air travel websites as well as apps to find the ideal flight for your travel destination.
If you are planning on flying, you must limit the amount of luggage that you’ll carry. It would be best if you packed a few everyday items that you use.
Pack only clothes that you might need. To pack all these, you ought to have the nitty-gritty details concerning your trip.
Check out the location, activities you’ll engage in, type of trip as well as stay duration. It will act as a basic guideline for all items that you might require.
Make your luggage easy to identify
The last thing you would want to deal with during your pleasant trip is worrying about your luggage, more so when they get loaded randomly on the plane. It would be best you made your luggage easy to identify.
You can tie a small noticeable ribbon or a put a sticker, which will make it different from other bags. You can also choose to write your home address as well as a phone number. That way, in case of anything your sideways, you can quickly get a call.
Come with some form of entertainment
It never hurts to come along with some leisurely activity. It will come in handy more so when the flight lacks an inflight entertainment system.
You can choose to use this time to catch up on a movie, listen to a podcast, or finish that novel that you have put off for quite some time. It’s a good time to disconnect with the hassles of life and relax.
Be mindful what you eat
It’s easy to get a stomach upset when traveling to a new destination. You ought to know what you are eating at all times.
Some food might affect your flight experiences. Therefore, you must avoid gassy foods. You might discover that carb-rich meals might assist in reducing jet lag.
Travelling can get a little bit hectic, more so when air travel is concerned. You ought to be cautious about fight times, including Sydney to Hong Kong flight time, among other necessities. It will enable you to have a pleasing as well as a fun time all through.
What To Do If You Have A Car Accident While Traveling
Travel is exciting. Generally speaking, this is a good thing. But, sometimes a trip can turn out to be eventful for the wrong reasons.
The last thing you need is to have a car accident, even a small one, while you are traveling. It puts a real dampener on things and if you do not take the right action an event like that can carry on having a negative impact on your life even after you get home. With this in mind, I thought I would put together a few tips to help you to navigate what can be a tricky situation.
Call a lawyer
Regardless of where you are, it is wise to speak to a car accident attorney after an accident. In particular, if someone has been hurt or it looks like there could be a lot of damage. .
You can never be sure where these cases will lead, so having the support of a lawyer is useful. Most car accident lawyers offer a free initial consultation. So, you can use that to ask them what to do next and ascertain if you are likely to need their services.
It is best to start by explaining that you have had your accident while vacationing. This will enable them to advise you about whether you need to hire a lawyer close to where you live or where you had the accident.
Notify the insurance firm
Also, ask them about what to say when speaking to the insurance firm. You will definitely need to contact them. Usually, there is a time limit for doing this, so be aware of this and make sure you comply.
But, you will need to be careful about what you say. Regardless of where you are in the world, it is not wise to admit blame.
Notify the car hire firm
If you were driving a hire car, at the time of your accident, you normally have to notify them too. Again, your lawyer will be able to advise you about what to say.
This will ensure that you do not inadvertently end up taking the blame or agreeing to pay for something you shouldn’t. You need to speak to your car hire firm within the timescales agreed when you signed the contract.
Follow the local rules and regulations
Before you leave home, you need to have familiarized yourself with driving rules of the area you were traveling to. There are differences. For example, you have to understand how serious an accident has to be for it to be obligatory to call the police to the scene of the accident. In some parts of the world, you have to deploy warning triangles and put on high visibility vests. Not knowing and complying with these special rules can get you in a lot of trouble.
Contact your travel insurance provider too
Wherever you travel to you should always buy a good travel insurance policy that includes cover for medical emergencies. Most of the time, this is how your medical expenses will be covered. But, as you can see here if you are held responsible for the accident you will almost certainly be liable for the other party’s medical expenses. That is why it is very important to only hire a car if good car insurance is included.
Three Reasons You Need To Try Camping
Holidays are that point of your working year when you finally get to relax, finally get to step away from the laptop and finally get some much needed time to recover from the stresses and strains of work.
It’s the pin on the calendar that gives you something to look forward to and the point where you know all that planning and work was worthwhile.
But are that person who finds it hard to put down the laptop and step away from their phone. Perhaps, you find it hard to switch off and worry about how the business is functioning in your absence.
In this blog, we take a look at three reasons why camping is the ultimate getaway for the stressed out executive.
Image from Pixabay: CC0 licence
Why Basic is Better
What’s the first thing you do when you check into your luxury hotel? That’s right, you ask for the wifi code and make sure your charger is plugged in. A home from home environment is great but when that home turns into an extension of your office, then you’re not going to be able to switch off and focus on where you are, even with the best will in the world.
Taking yourself out of your comfort zone and limiting your options is a bit like tough love, hard to do but ultimately a decision that everyone benefits from.
Gone is your focus on charging a phone and instead you’re thinking about when to fire up the BBQ or how many blankets you’re going to need that night.
Great for All Types of Families
Including couples, friends and those with children. Simply put camping brings people together. The campfire toasting marshmallows, the walks into the countryside and the late nights talking and playing cards together. No phones, no TV and no distractions, just you and your family remembering what it’s like, just to talk and be together.
The Great Outdoors
Watching your kids or your dog enjoying bounding around outside is great for the soul. Just taking time to enjoy the views at a campsite such as Rest Point Caravan Park in Walpole will help you to reconnect with the great outdoors and remember what’s it like to forget your responsibilities, just for a little while at least.
You might also give yourself the opportunity to try a new sport, get back on your bike or just enjoy some gentle exercise in the fresh air with the prospect of a tasty BBQ at the end of the day.
You might not feel like a natural camper but if the alternative is being cooped up in your hotel pouring over your emails, then make this an option that you add to your list. Be brave, go and buy a great tent or go to a site where you can rent them and take a chance on the great outdoors. Breathe some fresh air, admit there’s no wifi and enjoy a holiday reconnecting with the people and pets you value most.
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
New on Four Jandals
- Here Are 5 Essential Air Travel Tips That You Ought to Know About! January 21, 2020
- Playing Online Poker January 20, 2020
- The Best Gaming Genres for Travelers January 17, 2020
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