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Sea Kayak in Napoli, Italy

Exploring the Italian coastline by sea kayaking in Napoli is one of the best adventure travel activities you can do.

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Kayak Napoli, Things to do in Napoli, Things to do in Naples

Ripples extend away from the end of our paddles as each stroke breaks the surface of the warm Mediterranean Sea. Sunlight flickers and reflects off the surface as our kayak cuts through the glassy waters off the coast of Napoli. The only sounds are the splashing of the paddles and the odd laugh echoing from kids diving off the rocky shoreline.

This is kayaking Napoli at its best.

Kayak Napoli, Things to do in Napoli, Things to do in Naples

Kayak Napoli

On a recommendation from the awesome staff at Hostel of the Sun in Naples we had grabbed our togs, lathered up with sunscreen and donned our sunnies for a morning of adventures and sea kayaking with the friendly folks at Kayak Napoli.

Even getting out to the kayak Napoli centre proved to be an adventure as our only directions were to hop off the local bus at supposedly one of the best restaurants along the Napoli coast. Apparently every bus driver in the city knew where this was. Apart from the one driving our bus of course.

With fumbling Italian and hand gestures we somehow managed to stop just 200m from where we were meant to get off anyway.

Cute town Kayak Naples

Hiking down the long winding road to the coastline our backs were soon sticky with sweat and all we wanted to do was get started on our kayak Napoli trip. However, as with all things Italian, everything is done at a slow and gentle pace. Our 10.30am start time neared 11am and then flew on by before our guide showed up on his trusty Vespa.

Can’t say we were too disappointed getting to chill out for a half hour in such a cute village on the seafront anyway.

Everyone partnered up and we dipped our paddles in the water slowly stroking away from the beach.

Kayak Napoli Adventure Travel

With only 6 of us, including the guide, on the kayak tour in Naples it really felt personal. And even with our limited kayaking skills we were actually the best of the small group with two of the girls careening into a small dinghy when they couldn’t figure out how to turn or stop.

Luckily the sea was flat and the guide experienced enough to keep us close to the shoreline should anything go drastically wrong.

At over 3 hours in length it really is an awesome and unique way to see one of the most spectacular coastlines in Italy. Away from the hustle and bustle of Naples the cliffs plunge straight into the deep blue sea. Houses perch precariously on the cliff edge with rough stone stairs carved straight into the rock leading to the sea below.

With no beaches here the locals sunbaths on the rocks with ladders to help them climb back out.

Kayak Naples Swimming

Our local guide knew all the best swimming holes and spots to rest our weary shoulders every half hour or so. With masks provided we could explore under the surface at every stop too.

We even had the chance to kayak into ancient caves that had been eroded from the relentless sea. Unsurprisingly these same magnificent caves have been used in the past for homes and storage for the wealthy.

Kayak Napoli, Things to do in Napoli, Things to do in Naples

Each cave had winding steps leading into the blackness behind gates where we couldn’t venture. Apparently some still lead into the basements of houses.

Kayak Napoli Adventure, Things to do in Napoli, Things to do in Naples

My favourite stop on the Napoli kayak tour was when we  stopped at the Roman ruins which were visible above, and below, the sea surface. Snorkelling gear was again donned to explore these ancient structures. I only wish we had more time here as this was definitely the highlight.

Kayak Napoli Adventure, Things to do in Napoli, Things to do in Naples

Oh apart from helping catch our guides dinner in the form of an octopus. If only he had offered to share it with us!

It was such a fun few hours and a totally different way to explore Napoli. We definitely recommend you to check out Kayak Napoli as they run adventure trips every day and it’s a great way to escape the Italian heat.

Have you ever kayaked in Napoli or Italy? Any other recommended spots for us to explore?

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    June 25, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    What a peaceful and beautiful way to experience Naples. I’d love to see submerged Roman ruins and help catch (and eat!) an octopus. Beautifully written lead, by the way.

  2. Laurence

    June 25, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    A gentle paddle, a gentle laze in the ocean. Cave exploration… coastline vistas. I’m almost there in my mind 😀

    • Cole Burmester

      June 26, 2012 at 2:25 PM

      Glad we could take you on a journey today!

      • marcia

        May 15, 2013 at 11:04 PM

        planning to be in naples for a few hours on saturday during a trip to rome. what is your recommendation for a short kayak trip for about 4 people for about 2-3 hours. how would i get to the location you mentioned from the train station. marcia

        • Cole Burmester

          May 17, 2013 at 5:44 AM

          Hi Marcia,
          Thanks for your question and stopping by the blog. Try and get hold of the guys at Hostel of the Sun in Naples and they can organise the kayaking for you 🙂

  3. Micki

    June 25, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Looks like a fun time. The Roman ruins below the sea surface look like an especially cool thing to check out.

    • Cole Burmester

      June 26, 2012 at 2:34 PM

      They were awesome Micki. Wish we had longer to explore them with our snorkelling gear.

    • T.W. Anderson @ Marginal Boundaries

      July 1, 2012 at 1:45 PM

      I totally agree 🙂 I visited Napoli briefly in 2009, but this wasn’t something we did and I’d have to second this!

      Great article btw!

      • Cole Burmester

        July 2, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        Thanks T.W! We loved it and hopefully if you return you can check it out 🙂

  4. Ayngelina

    June 26, 2012 at 12:25 AM

    Even though I profess to be lazy I would love to do something like this, what a great way to see the city.

    • Cole Burmester

      June 26, 2012 at 2:30 PM

      Definitely an easy day out for even the laziest travellers 🙂

  5. Lesley Peterson

    June 26, 2012 at 1:19 AM

    Now that’s a different perspective! Love the photos of the rock formations and cave…

  6. Caz Makepeace

    June 26, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Kayaking is such a great way to see a place. I love the sound of this adventure!

  7. Bret@ Green Global Travel

    June 28, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    It’s funny, I’ve actually been to Napoli, but would not have imagined it being such a great place to sea kayak. But it looks like you guys had an awesome time, especially snorkeling those ruins. Get any great pizza while you were in the area?

    • Cole Burmester

      June 30, 2012 at 8:11 AM

      Did we get any pizza? What a ridiculous question 🙂 I think my veins are clogged with mozzarella as I sit here haha! We didn’t think the kayaking would be great either but were pleasantly surprised. Wish we had more time to explore other areas by kayak too.

  8. Turtle

    June 30, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    I would never have thought of seeing Naples this way. What an awesome idea! This is going in the ‘to-do’ folder!!

    • Cole Burmester

      July 2, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      We didn’t think of it either and were going to kayak in Amalfi instead. So stoked we had the chance to explore Naples from the sea.

  9. Ali

    July 1, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Sounds like a great day! I’m not sure I have the arm muscles for 3 hours of kayaking, but it looks like fun!

    • Cole Burmester

      July 2, 2012 at 4:15 PM

      When we first heard 3 hours we nearly fell out of the kayaks (yes they forgot to mention it before we started). Fortunately it was really relaxed and we were doubled up in the kayaks. Seriously, anyone could do it!

  10. Natalie

    July 2, 2012 at 4:38 AM

    Kayaking is hard work – My arms ached for days after doing it. Next time, I will sit in the back while hubby does the hard work instead! 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      July 2, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      As you can see I sat in the back so took loads of photos while Adela paddled her heart out without realising I was relaxing 😉 Hahaha

  11. bronwen burmester

    July 2, 2012 at 5:28 AM

    Never would have thought to explore by kayak – thanks for the read and photos, lovely!

    • Cole Burmester

      July 2, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      Would have been really fun to do it with you guys! Maybe around the Pacific sometime in a few years 🙂

  12. Angela

    July 2, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    Beautiful day out, I love Napoli, beautiful landscape and awesome food.

    • Cole Burmester

      July 2, 2012 at 4:22 PM

      We love all of Italy so far and I think I need some bigger pants after all the food 🙂

  13. Natasha von Geldern

    July 3, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    Wow this looks so stunning. I’ve been to Naples three times but this is a great new way to see it. And the food is always, always the best.

    • Cole Burmester

      July 3, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      The food is sooooo good! Surprised our kayaks stayed afloat after all we ate haha.

  14. Escaping Abroad

    July 19, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    Awesome shots! You’re using a waterproof can and a wide angle lens?

  15. Cynthia Alex

    July 22, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Wow.. I have always loved to go to Italy and seeing this post makes me want to go more! Too bad that I live in Asia and the travel fees would be too much as of now.. maybe one day!

  16. Pingback: 50 Scariest Backpacker Experiences | The HostelBookers Blog

  17. Inma

    January 23, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    We would have ever thought about kayaking in Naples if you hadn’t published this! love it and willing to give it a try next time in the city!

    • Cole Burmester

      January 23, 2013 at 3:06 PM

      We found out about it through our awesome Hostel. They provided all the details and organised it for us. All we had to do was show up 🙂 Perfect day out in Naples!

  18. Inma

    January 23, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    🙂 that’s how things should always work!!!!

  19. Steve

    May 11, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    Very fun looking trip you guys had. I am going to Naples for about 3 weeks this summer mid-july into august for business. Will have evenings and weekends off. The kayak trip looks like something I have got to do. But, what if I have never been snorkeling before? Can I learn there? I also wear glasses. Will that be a problem?

    • Cole Burmester

      May 13, 2013 at 6:16 AM

      Can you wear contacts Steve? Then you can wear the mask over the top easily. The guide will also teach you to snorkel if you ask 🙂 enjoy it!

  20. Katy

    May 28, 2017 at 10:19 PM

    Hi Cole:

    Thank you for a wonderful article. My husband and I are looking into renting kayaks in Naples. Do you recommend the tour? We both paddle a lot and we enjoy exploring on our own in open waters. It’s our first time in Naples so we are not sure what the best way to do it. Could you advise? Thank you!
    Katy

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Adventure Travel

The 4 Best US Cities for an Outdoor Adventure

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If you are looking for a destination that will get your heart racing and adrenaline pumping, you will be spoilt for options in the US. Offering various landscapes and tough terrains to tackle, outdoor enthusiasts can find some of the biggest and best challenges in different states across the country.

If you want to enjoy an adrenaline fix in 2019, check out the following four best US cities for an outdoor adventure.

  • Los Angeles, California

There is more to Los Angeles than celebrity homes, high-end stores and boutiques, and fun Hollywood tours. Not only can you book charter jets Los Angeles to touch down in the city with ease, but there are many superb outdoor pursuits for adventure enthusiasts.

For example, you could try your hand at horseback riding at Griffith Park, or you could hike up Mount Baldy, which is the highest mountain point within Los Angeles County. Also, if you want to come face-to-face with various forms of marine life, you will be happy to learn you can snorkel in the stunning Lover’s Cove.

  • Seattle, Washington

As Seattle is surrounded by water, you can choose from a multitude of fun watersports during a visit in the Emerald City. For example, you can take to the city’s lakes and waterways to enjoy a spot of:

  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Sailing
  • Jet skiing
  • Paddle boarding
  • Kite boarding

While hikers, cyclists, and runners will love to tackle the Burke-Gilman Trail, which is an extensive trail located north of Ballard by Puget Sound.

  • Portland, Oregon

Offering more than 40 state parks and eight beautiful beaches, those looking for a fun outdoor adventure should look no further than Portland. Avid hikers should head straight to Forest Park once they arrive in the cool, laidback city, as it covers approximately 5,100 acres and is one of the largest urban forests in America.

Visitors can also escape the hustle and bustle of the city at Columbia River Gorge, which offers the largest concentration of waterfalls in the US, including the 620ft tall Multnomah Falls. It will offer a great hike for almost every age and can help visitors to reconnect with nature.

  • Aurora, Colorado

Offering more than 300 days of glorious sunshine throughout the year, it is easy to see why many people make their way to Aurora to enjoy its many outdoor pursuits. One destination you shouldn’t overlook is Aurora Reservoir, which allows visitors to enjoy a spot of fishing, sailing, swimming, windsurfing, and boating.

If, however, you are looking for a destination that offers superb horseback riding opportunities, don’t miss out on 12 Mile Stables, which has been serving both locals and tourists for many decades. It’s an experience you will not forget in a hurry, as you can enjoy 27 miles of riding trails across 3,300 acres at Cherry Creek State Park.

If you are considering an outdoor getaway in the United States, you can rest assured the above destinations will not let you down.

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Adventure Travel

Review: 10 Day Egypt Explorer Tour with Expat Explore

A comprehensive review of Expat Explores 10 Day Explorer Tour through the stunning country of Egypt.

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Expat Explore Group in Egypt

We have been wanting to visit Egypt for a while now so when the opportunity to get away over the Christmas and New Year period arose we knew we needed to head there for a break. We joined Expat Explore on their 10 Day Explorer Tour through Egypt taking in the sights of Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and Hurghada.

Expat Explore Group Photo

The reason we chose Expat Explore was that they were the cheapest in price with all the same sights and in the end we were happy with our choice.

Pre-departure they emailed us our itinerary with the optional excursions and additional costs for entry fees included so that we could budget properly. As well as following up with our pre-trip questions regarding flights, insurance and uhealth and safety advice.

From the start they were very professional. Landing in Cairo we were personally greeted the day before our tour and transported to our City centre hotel. That drive was an eye-opener to Egypt with crazy lane changes, honking, swerving, flashing lights with animals, people and vehicles everywhere.

El Tonsy Hotel is your base for your arrival and last night. Luckily we didn’t expect much as our door didn’t lock which was a bit dodgy and the rooms were freezing cold with a broken heater and only one blanket. You wouldn’t think you would need heat in Egypt but it was the middle of winter and it was chilly at night. No complaints with the location though as we could see the Pyramids in the distance and were only 5 minutes walk from the Nile and 15 minutes to Tahir Square (perfectly safe by the way). Plus they have a little bar/restaurant with cheap food and free Wi-Fi. Just buy your snacks and water from the supermarket across the road and you will get on fine.

El Tonsy Hotel View of Pyramids

It’s quite hard to break down a whole trip into one post but here goes:

Day One

Your tour starts with the best in my opinion by touring some sights of Cairo. The steeply angled Step Pyramid, mind-blowing Pyramids of Giza and the smaller than expected Sphinx. This day was definitely the highlight.

That night is spent aboard the train for 10-12 hours to Aswan. I highly recommend the Sleeper train for an extra £50 per person. Others that caught the standard train froze their butts off while we had a toasty sleep with a served dinner and breakfast. Unfortunately Expat Explore never told us about the provided food so we ate before we got on-board but what we could fit in was delicious.

Day Two

The tour splits in Aswan as one group embarks on a River Cruise aboard a 5 star ship while the others spend time in hotels and on a Felucca. No surprise that we went with the cheaper option aboard the Felucca so the next few days are from that point of view.

The afternoon is yours at Sara Hotel on the banks above the Nile. We lapped up the beautiful rays of the sun and managed to turn our pasty white bodies a more fitting slightly white shade. The Hotel was great until the toilet next-door erupted sending a river of smelly waste across our bedroom floor (throw your toilet paper in the bin not the loo)! Luckily we woke in time to rescue our bags from the watery mess! Not the fault of Expat Explore and we didn’t blame the Hotel either as shit happens.

Day Three

Your day begins by visiting the monstrous High Dam for 10 minutes (fairly boring) and a drive past the Unfinished Obelisk. While the highlight is definitely the Philae Temple. When the sunsets across the Nile reflecting off the stonework it really is quite magical.

Philae Temple Sunset

The evening ended with an optional dinner in a traditional Nubian families house. The food was scrumptious and you better bring your singing and dancing shoes.

Day Four

The following day and night is spent relaxing aboard the Felucca for a sail up the Nile for several hours. Sleeping no more than 8 people you will be snug if you bring your own sleeping bag like us. The rest of our crew were jealous as it did get quite chilly in the evening however blankets were provided.

With delicious pita bread and falafel cooked on the boat you will not be disappointed with the food either.

The day ends with a bonfire on the Nile shoreline as you sing and dance with the crazy fun Nubian crews. This was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip for us.

Travel Tip: Don’t be put off by doing your “business” amongst the reeds of the Nile. Just enjoy the view and remember to bring your own toilet paper (which you need everywhere in Egypt anyway).

Felucca on the Nile

By all accounts, from the other tour members, the River Cruise is just as great with 3 nights on-board in comfortable accommodation, a pool and  buffets morning, noon and night.

Day Five

Waking to a sunrise breaking the morning chill is a glorious way to start a new day. Unfortunately there is little time for relaxation before you are off the Felucca and on a bus to Kom Ombu and Edfu Temples. I must say, all of the transportation was more than adequate with toilets on the buses and room enough for everyone. It’s lucky because you do spend the majority of the time being driven around.

The Lotus Hotel in Luxor was probably the pick of them all. Situated on the Nile bank with a swimming pool and tasty buffet breakfast.

Day Six

One more day, one more busy schedule. Rushing to beat the crowds at the Valley of the Kings it’s another 8am start. You are only allowed to visit three tombs and we recommend the guides picks which were Ramses II, IV and IX.

Travel Tip: You are NOT allowed to take your camera with you off the bus. Please don’t ruin it for everyone by taking photos as you will be charged by security when caught.

We also squeezed in the crowded rock carved Hatshepsut Temple but only drove past Luxor Temple as we ran out of time as you need to drive 6 hours to reach Hurghada that night.

Day Seven and Eight

The next two days at the Red Sea are yours to do whatever you like so use them wisely. We joined most of our group for a spot of snorkelling and diving. The dive and the staff were great but the whole day seemed a little rushed which was a shame. Keep an eye out for our post on our diving experience in Hurghada.

Diving in Hurghada on the Red Sea

So nice being able to relax on a beach and read a book after such a hectic schedule. It’s hard to leave and the 6 – 8 hour bus ride back to Cairo is tough.

Travel Tip: If you plan to do the tour over New Years Eve then you will have to depart Hurghada half a day early which sucked as it meant celebrating the New Year at the Hotel in Cairo. Bit of a let down but when hasn’t New Years Eve been!

Day Nine

Your final day of sightseeing is spent around Cairo. Our favourite part of the day was definitely the Cairo Museum with an excellent tour guide. It fits perfectly at the end by seeing all the history close-up after having learned about it over the last 8 days.

By the time we hit the old area of Cairo and the Coptic Hanging Church we were spent on history but our guide made a good effort at keeping us entertained.

The last group activity is free time for an hour or so at the Khan El Khalili souk markets where the touts try to prise your cash from you for the last time from every nook and cranny.

Day Ten

With the tour over it’s time to head home. Our flight was late the following night so we walked around the city and Souks on our own for the day. Expat Explore provides transport back to the airport which was great.

The Negatives

The trip was awesome but we think it’s important to note the little things that could make a huge difference to the overall experience:

  • It felt like we were always hungry. Maybe it is just Kiwi’s and Aussies that eat all the time but it seriously felt like we were constantly starving with lunches being served usually after 4pm and dinner at 9pm onwards. It might be the Egyptian way to eat at those times but not for us. Travel Tip: Buy lots of snacks for the road which are very cheap at supermarkets.
  • There was sometimes a lack of direction in what seemed to be happening. Everything is done on Egyptian time so be patient.
  • We were often delayed or behind schedule with little to no guidance as to how long it would take to get from place to place. A little knowledge goes a long was as then we can plan ahead.
  • More free time would be great to explore places on your own rather than have our hands held everywhere.

The Positives:

As we said above, the trip was amazing and the little positive things far outweighed the negatives which helped make it a memorable trip.

  • Pre-departure information and care was extremely good.
  • The tour was exceptional value for money and it was the cheapest tour we could find even though we still saw all the same sights the other groups did.
  • The guides were extremely knowledgeable and never failed to answer any questions we had. The insights into the daily lives of the people around us was a nice break from all the history. They also ensured you never felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • The Felucca trip was better than expected and overall so was the accommodation and transport options.

All in all we highly recommend you book with Expat Explore if you are considering a trip through Egypt.

Make sure you subscribe now and come back soon so you can enjoy reading our new posts which will cover everything else in more detail.

Disclaimer: Expat Explore provided us with a discount for our 10 day tour of Egypt however as always our thoughts are always our own.

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Adventure Travel

Waterfalls and surfing in Panama

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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!

Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro

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!

Howling Monkey

Howling Monkey

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.

At a waterfall with our Venezuelan friends that is walking distance from Venao Cove Hostel

At a waterfall with our Venezuelan friends that is walking distance from Venao Cove Hostel

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.

Point break at Santa Catalina

Point break at Santa Catalina

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!

Car ferry arriving at Bocas del Toro

Car ferry arriving at Bocas del Toro

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.

The large swell was creating mini islands on the beach/road at Bocas del Toro

The large swell was creating mini islands on the beach/road at Bocas del Toro

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!!

Panama - Bocas del Toro storm

Sand went everywhere!!

Stormy swells during January 2015 in Bocas del Toro

Stormy swells during January 2015 in Bocas del Toro

Panama - Bocas del Toro ow with large ears

Biggest ears on a cow we’ve ever seen!

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!

Large starfish at Bocas del Toro

Large starfish at Bocas del Toro

El Valle

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’.

El Valle - Punte Mama Chea natural pool

El Valle – Punte Mama Chea natural pool

San Blas

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.

View of Panama Canal from the Miraflores Visitor Center

View of Panama Canal from the Miraflores Visitor Center

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!

Sunset while watching the surfers at Santa Catalina

Sunset while watching the surfers at Santa Catalina

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.

Butterfly in Santa Catalina

Butterfly in Santa Catlina

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

 

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe 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...

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