Monday, November 30, 2015

Santa Clara: A Beautiful sandy beach on the Pacific

Beautiful sandy beach on the pacific coast





Santa clara beach is the most famous beach near Panama-City. It is located in the Coclé province and only 110 kilometers from the City. You can go by car or public transportation the beaches are 90 minutes away from the Capital. It is the perfect stop to eat a fresh fish on the Pacific coast or stay overnight or longer before you travel further or decide to stay in the area and explore the others places nearby such as the highlands in El Valle or Altos del Maria.
Although Santa Clara beach is often overlooked by visitors to Panama, it has pretty much everything you could want. It is the longest beach in the area, lovely sand, and a number of restaurants and accomodations. You can rent out your rancho with hammock for the day for around 15 dollars.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

About Chichime Island in San Blas

 

Enjoy the remoteness of the place

 
 
 





For those who love adventure, rustic and get out of the routine and busy city life, Kuna Yala (also spelled Guna Yala); at least for us, every time we go there is just love at first sight.  Couldn’t ask for a better cultural experience to live among the Kuna, this is not for everyone but just need  to be prepared. So get out there, be flexible and enjoy.

Chichime is one of the group of islands in San Blas; it is a medium-sized island, walking around takes up to 20 min. It is less crowded as the others islands and Chichime has the most deserted beaches. It has beautiful white sand and palms trees, the water is crystal clear and the beach is just magical with calm and warm water. The snorkeling there is good and the tour offered is focused on snorkeling.

The cabañas have wooden floor and hard roof top, the shared bathrooms are 5 minutes walk away.

Look at the Video!
 
 



Private Cabins (wooden floor) – shared bathroom
  • $170.00 pp.
  • Extra night: $50.00 pp.
  • Departure Panama-City 5.30am
  • Departure Chichime 9am
  • Extra fee for afternoon check-out 3pm: $35.00 pp. (lunch and tour included)

Included           
  • Transportation from/to Panama-City (For more comfort, you can always ask for a private charter)
  • Kuna Yala Taxes
  • Boat transfer to/from the island
  • Snorkeling and sightseeing boat tour (snorkeling in the reef canal, Isla Perro and its shipwreck, the white sand walking pool)
  • Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast
Not included   
  • Water, Soda, Alcohol and snacks
  • Snorkeling equipment is sometimes available. We strongly suggest you to bring your own equipment.

Do not worry, our Kuna friends coordinate very well your pick-up at the dock with our friends from the 4x4 carriers. You might be waiting around 30 minutes at the San Blas dock to have all the logistics ready. Take a rain coat with you and/or but your belongings such as camera, mobile phone in a dry place as it can be raining or the sea can be a little rough.







Feel free to contact us: Secretsofpanama@gmail.com - Website: http://secretspanama.com/












Going to San Blas ? Read this article before to go!



All Paradises have their downside







We have created this fact sheet based on our own experience, we believe important to share the reality of the small postcards islands with white sand, beaches and palm trees, prior departure, for you to enjoy better your trip and know exactly how it could be.


The San Blas Islands are run by the indigenous called The Kunas. They have their own rules and Panamanian law doesn’t much exist. Their main income is the tourism and foreigners are not authorized to operate tourisms there. Meaning this, as soon as you embark on their small boats, you are in the hands of the Kunas and it will be difficult to claim back any delays, logistics problems or refunds.


It is the reason why it is important to stay on recommended islands and not book through agencies with +10 islands listings who care about profit and not about customer satisfaction. Additionally, all these listings create confusion to travelers and hesitation. Now, you can also book your Party Cruise expedition to San Blas with pumping music on the boat, drinks all day bringing bad influences to the Kuna people which is probably not what you are looking for ?


Remember all islands are beautiful in San Blas and your choice should be determined by the most beautiful islands out of the 365 islands but on the Kuna Family hospitality, the accommodation, the service and tours provided. That’s why on our side we can only recommend the cabins of our friends located in Chichime island and Diablo island.


To explain the “low” service level sometimes offered, you must understand that San Blas is still very basic. The Kuna operating there have not all studied Hospitality Management, Logistics, Gastronomy, nor Tourism. There has been a big “boom” during the past years and they have not been trained for that and some just want you to experience their lifestyle in their own comfort which is as well part of the trip.

About the 4×4 road transportation performed by Panamanians, you can except to be a little squeezed as 7 passengers can fit into the car. As well, you can experience some delays or the car already waiting for you because the pick-up route can change and sometimes others passengers create themselves the delays (alarm clock issues). To avoid that, you can always pay extra fee and request a private charter.

Be flexible! You must expect some delays, lack of communication, waiting for someone or something without knowing the cause, rustic cabanas, no fish but pasta, (Yes!, sometimes the fish season is low), fried eggs and bread for breakfast, but in the end, everything works out if you can accept the little discomfort.  Simply enjoy the adventure!

San Blas have a problem with rubbish collection, so you can expect to see some of it on these islands and more during summer season because of the strong current. The main rubbish are coming from the sea, cargoes and sailing boat!

Mandatory items you must take with:

  • Always have your Passport with you and not in your bag as there are some check-point on the way.
  • The 4×4 transportation will stop on the supermarket but at in case it does not, make sure to have at least a gallon of water with you and others small snacks.
  • Towel, swimming and snorkeling equipment
  • Rain coat for the boat ride
  • Ziploc or any hermetic bags to put your valuable items in a safe place during the boat ride as everything can get wet
  • Toilet paper
  • Sun block
  • Mosquito repellent (mosquitoes are not much present on the islands but at the port)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

About Diablo Island in San Blas

 

Beautiful for the braves

 
 
 
 
 
There are many "Cabanas" in San Blas, but we recommend you one Island Isla Del Diablo which is owned by our Kuna friend. It is in front of Isla del Perro (Dog Island). It is a great place for snorkeling, as there is a nice reef and a shipwreck. The island is situated at 45 minutes from the San Blas dock.

The Kunas have their own legend story about Isla Diablo. The island was named Isla Diablo because there is a friendly devil called William walking around this island at night… If you want to know the entire story you must stay there and at night, our Kuna friends will start a bonfire and tell you a bit more about William.

This island is beautiful and make you forget about everything, the water is calm and crystal clear, the beach is pristine white and the snorkeling is very good. The rich sea life and reef around the islands is very good for snorkeling and if you are a good swimmer, you can swim to the famous shipwreck in front of Isla Perro.




Look at the Video!


 



TOURS INFORMATION
Private Cabins – shared bathroom
  • $167.00 pp.
  • Extra night: $50.00 pp.
  • Departure Panama-City 5.30am
  • Departure Diablo 9am
  • Extra fee for afternoon check-out 3pm: $25.00 pp. (lunch included)
Dorms – shared bathroom
  • $157.00 pp.
  • Extra night: $40.00 pp.
  • Departure Panama-City 5.30am
  • Departure Diablo 9am
  • Extra fee for afternoon check-out 3pm: $25 pp. (lunch included)
Camping (tent provided) – shared bathroom
  • $152.00 pp.
  • Extra night: $35.00 pp.
  • Departure Panama-City 5.30am
  • Departure Diablo 9am
  • Extra fee for afternoon check-out 3pm: $25.00 pp. (lunch included)

Included   
  • Transportation from/to Panama-City (For more comfort, you can always ask for a private charter)
  • Kuna Yala Taxes
  • Boat transfer to/from the island
  • Snorkeling and sightseeing boat tour (Isla Fragata, Star Fish Pool and others)
  • Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast
Not included   
  • Water, Soda, Alcohol and snacks
  • Snorkeling equipment is sometimes available. We strongly suggest you to bring your own equipment


Do not worry, our Kuna friends coordinate very well your pick-up at the dock with our friends from the 4x4 carriers. You might be waiting around 30 minutes at the San Blas dock to have all the logistics ready. Take a rain coat with you and/or but your belongings such as camera, mobile phone in a dry place as it can be raining or the sea can be a little rough.






Feel free to contact us: Secretsofpanama@gmail.com -
Website: http://secretspanama.com/
















Friday, July 17, 2015

Share a dinner and receive all the details you need for your trip in Panama

Tales of Panama: Dining Experience




If you are not sure where to go, what to see, where to eat & drink, enjoy a 4 hours dinner experience with a local and expat couple in their luxury apartment located on the prestigious Balboa Avenue, 20 minutes walk from the Old Town “Casco View” and a amazing view of Panama from their roof top for your best Panama-City Skyline picture. The idea is just simple, ” Tales of Panama”  is a unique dining experience, hosted by a friendly young couple who will not only serve you a good dinner but also provide you with all the tips and information you need to better enjoy your time in Panama.

Your hosts like to explore international and domestic flavors, using locally sourced ingredients depending the season, what do you want to eat or what the sea has to offer. What about an excellent BBQ or a fresh lobster tonight ?

The menu will consist of 3 meals (Appetizer, main course and desert) and with drinks of your choice (bottle of wine, beer, soda, fresh juice). Your host will be sharing their experience in Panama and answering to your question about Panama while cooking, eating and having fun together.
TOUR INFORMATION
Tales of Panama:  Dining Experience with a local and expat couple

$65.00 for one person
$120.00 for two persons
$170.00 for three persons
$200.00 for four persons
Maximum – 4 persons
Duration: From 6.00pm – 10pm
Frequency: Everydays!

The address will be shared with you after your booking. Taxi can be arranged from/to your hotel.

For more information please visit:  www.secretspanama.com 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Meet the Locals and get a real taste of the Panamanian culture

Think globally, act locally



 Elisa and her family will host you in their charming little house in Veracruz, a little beach town located at 30 minutes from Panama-City. The house is situated on a small hill with a panoramic view of Veracruz, the ocean front and Panama-City. Elisa will cook a delicious real local meal, that you can choose from: National Sanchoco (a very tasty and healthy chicken soup), Guacho de Mariscos (a slightly soupy rice dish with seafood), Guacho de rabito de Puerco (with pork), Arroz con frijoles y pescado (rice with bean and fried fish of the day).

This opportunity is not only to share a meal with a local family and learn more about the living and culture, it is also about makingTaste of Culture with Elisa new local friends, involves all together on having unforgettable experiences and create a sustainable income for them

You can either visit Elisa’s place at 11:30am or at 1:30pm on Saturdays or at 2:00pm on Sundays.







Saturday, June 6, 2015

Private Transportation in Panama


IMG_0753


We recommend you to chose Mr Florez for your transportation in Panama. We have used their service many times for our own trips to the airport and can certify they are very reliable.

The company has been founded by Mr Angel J. Florez H. in 1985, he had at that time only one yellow cab. Nowadays, they have fleet of modern and comfortable vehicles serving with quality and safety national and multinational companies and as well the tourism industry with all operational certificates requested.

For reservations or a quote for others destinations, please contact us:  secretsofpanama@gmail.com

Thursday, June 4, 2015

San Blas Sailing

San Blas Sailing Trip






Your capitain will be happy to welcome you in a friendly atmosphere aboard with 3 cabins, one with double bed at the back with private bathroom, a double cabin in the front and a cabin with 2 bunk beds and a shared bathroom.

Let your captain to guide you and enjoy every moment in this archipelago. A stay of a minimum four days is recommended to discover this paradise but shorter stays of minimum 2 days and 2 people can also be organized.


 TOUR INFORMATION:

Prices are calculated for a period of of 24 h as from 9 am in the first day, with minimum 2 people over 2 days
 $ 150 per person per day
Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks (beer / rum), with moderation!
  • Snorkeling equipment
Not included
  • Transportation from/to Panama-City that we will organize for you (For more comfort, you can always ask for a private charter)
  • Kuna Yala Taxes
  • Boat transfer to/from the sailing boat that Jean-Louis will organize for you

For more information please contact us:  secretsofpanama@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fishing in Panama Canal and sightseeing ?


On the Panama Canal your experience begin with Miguel, he was born, raised and still living in a fisherman and farmers little town in La Chorrera. With a big smile on his face he remembers when he was little and how he used to play and swim at the shores of the Lake Gatun; with no clothes.
When he was younger, he worked as a fisherman on his spare time so he could pay his studies and helped his family. Graduated from the university, he started to work for a private company, unfortunately he lost his job in 2006 and then decided to take the risk and  buy a little boat to open a new business.
Nowadays, Miguel is a grown up man, he is a field tester for Rappala and is certified by the ACP ( Autoridad del Canal  de Panama ) for security and transportation of people and tourism in the area of Gamboa and Lake Gatun, he perfectly knows the flora and fauna in the area.
He remembers with joy and sacrifice how difficult was on the early days and his purpose now, is to teach to the new generation his passion and offer his personal service to visitors and tourist of what he knows best… Lake Gatun!
Look at the Video!






Tours available:

  • Monkeys Island:
    • $205.00 (1-3 persons)
    • Duration (without transportation): 2 hours
    • Departure Panama-City 8 am (45 min)

  • Embera Tribe
    • $160.00 (1-3 persons)
    • Duration (without transportation): 1.30 hours
    • Departure Panama-City 8 am (45 min)

  • Fishing
    • $355.00 (1-3 persons)
    • Duration (without transportation): 4 hours
    • Departure Panama-City 6.30am (45 min)

  • Combine your trip!
    • Fishing, Monkey Island and Leisure at La Represa village-restaurant
      • $360.00 (1-3 persons)
      • Duration (without transportation): 5 hours
      • Departure Panama-City 6.30am (45 min)
    • Emberas tribe, Monkey Islands and Leisure at La Represa village-restaurant
      • $340.00 (1-3 persons)
      • Duration (without transportation): 6 hours
      • Departure Panama-City 8 am (45 min)
    • Emberas tribe and Monkey Islands Tour
      • $295.00 (1-3 persons)
      • Duration (without transportation): 4 hours
      • Departure Panama-City 8 am (45 min)


Feel free to contact us: Secretsofpanama@gmail.com
 
Website: http://secretspanama.com/
















Sunday, May 31, 2015

Embera Village Tribe community tour







Many years ago the Embera which means people, were known as the Chocoes. They’re not generally known to be widely seen in the City as you might see the Kunas, because they have lived deep in the forests of El Darien.

Tourism is important for them who have decided to keep their culture by giving tours in some small communities around Panama City as their way of living.  Music, dancing, talks, handicrafts are some of the thing that you will experience.

Enjoy the ride, it is a window into their lives, culture and way of living.

TOUR INFORMATION
Emberas tribe Tour
  • $160.00 (1-3 persons)
  • $190.00 (4 persons)
  • Duration (without transportation): 1.30 hours
  • Departure Panama-City 8 am (45 min)
  • *if you are more than 4 persons, please ask for a quotation  

Included
  • Transportation from/to Panama-city
  • cooler with ice provided
  • sodas and beers for sale if requested in advance

 
Contact us for more information:  secretofpanama@gmail.com










  
 

Isla Iguana in Pedasi - beach, snorkelling, whales watching and fishing with our friend Eytbar





Relax, friendly, scenic, cultural, loving, warm and chilling describe easily Pedasi. 

Pedasi is a district of the province of Los Santos in Panama, it is an easy going town with many activities to offer such as snorkeling, fishing, surfing, nature and folklore.

It is the home to the first female President of Panama, Mireya Moscoso (1999 to 2004) and her private airport has been develop into a public one with 3 weekly flights (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) of around 40 minutes. Otherwise, if you would like to drive it is a 4  to 5 hours drive from Panama City, you can also take a bus from Albrook at Panama City  (Terminal de Buses de Albrook) to either Chitre or Las Tablas, then need to take a connection bus up to Pedasi. Easy!

All the tours we are promoting will be experienced with our friend and captain Eytbar who is a very cool and energetic young man. He loves to share his life experiences and interests (fishing, surfing, nature) with everyone. When he was a young boy, he used to go Playa Arenal waiting for his dad to take him out fishing and observing the whales with always the objective to learn from his dad and educate future generations.

Today he owns his own boat “lancha” and has almost 8 years dedicated to the tourism in Pedasi, bring clients to Isla Iguana, fishing, surfing and whales watching. He is also a member of an environmental association in the Pedasi area. He is as well a member of a foundation for childrens with leukemia and cancer. Peace.


Look at the Video!





Please contact us to coordinate your trip with Eytbar. Secretsofpanama@gmail.com 
 

 


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Get to know all Pedasi surfing spots in one day

Surf Charter Tour



venao

Our local friend will get you with his boat “lancha” to the best surfing spot around Pedasi. Surf as a “local”
Playa El Lagarto has left and right beach breaks and is good at all tides.
Playa El Toro, best at mid-tide, has a left and right rock bottom point break
Playa Los Destiladeros has a right point over rock bottom, a left point over rock bottom and a beach break with a pebble bottom
Lagart Point is a beach bottom break that breaks at all tides with some rocks on each end, but gets good rights and lefts and can be very powerful when it is big.

TOUR INFORMATION
Surfing Charter Boat Tour
$200.00 (1-4 persons)
Duration: 6 hours
Included
  • Ice cooler (bring your own drinks and food)
  • Fruits


Website: http://secretspanama.com/

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Do you know the Panama Entry Requirements?

Things to know before planning your trip
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Before buying your tickets and pack all your belongings and prepare your suitcases there is one important thing you must consider before traveling to Panama and those are the Panama entry requirements or documents needed to enter the country.

Required Documents

  • Valid passport All tourist and visitors must carry a valid passport, with at least 3 months prior to its expiration date and a return or onward ticket out of the country.
  • Financial solvency:  Authorities could ask if you have sufficient funds to get permission to cross the border, then you must be  able to prove that you have at least USD500.00, Bank statements, Credit Cards can be use as a prove.
  • Visa: There are two different types of tourist in Panama those that need a tourist visa and those that only need a passport.
  • Valid address:
  • Term of stay: The normal entry is valid for 30 days but is extendable to 90 days at discretion of immigration authorities.
  • Recommended vaccinations: There is no mandatory vaccines for entry into the country.     

Arrival in Panama

  •  Upon arriving at Tocumen International Airport it is good to know the particular characteristics.  Passengers have access to a duty-free zone, some stores are open 24 hours a day. It is located on the upper level, easily accessible for shopping before going to immigration and customs on the lower level.

Airport tax

  •  For international commercial flights, leaving Panama an amount of $40.00 airport departure tax must be paid.

Border Crossings

  • When crossing a border you need to show your onward ticket out of Panama and your financial solvency with at least $500.00

 Extending your Tourism Visa

  •  Go to the offices of Migration: In Panama they are in Cuba Avenue and 29th Street, there are also offices in David (Chiriqui), Chitre (Herrera Province), Changuinola (Bocas del Toro Province) and Santiago (Veraguas Province).You must take your passport, $10.00, a photocopy of the page in your passport with your particular data and a copy of the page of the last Panama entrance, a letter in Spanish requesting an extension of tourist and return ticket registered by airplane.

Please double check!, The above information is believed to be correct at the time it was written. Please double check with the Panamanian consulate in your country.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Is there any Day Tour to San Blas available ?

 
 
 
Day tours are now available as the new road allow to arrive in San Blas in 2.5hours vs. in 5hours some years ago.

It can be a good alternative if you do not have the time to stay over night or if you wish to keep the comfort of your hotel room in the City :-)

We suggest you to avoid weekend or national days off in Panama. The San Blas day tour starts with transportation from Panama City to Carti with a shared 4×4 leaving between 5am and 5.30am. They can take up to 7 passengers and you might be a little squeeze.

The journey to Carti on the San Blas island mainland is around 2-3 hours through the rainforest. In Carti you will be picked up by our Kuna Friend who will take you to Isla Diablo where you will have the time to go snorkelling, have lunch before to go for a two hours tour around the others islands. The day tours of the islands will finish around 3-4pm and you will be transported back to Carti Port and meet with the 4×4 transport back to Panama City, you will arrive back in Panama City between 6 and 7pm normally.

Day Tour Price:  USD130.00 per/person (all included, incl. taxes) to be paid to the transport company. Feel free to contact us: Secretsofpanama@gmail.com


393665_10150525395751521_1592047052_nestr3




Website: http://secretspanama.com/



Saturday, May 9, 2015

How to get to San Blas (Guna Yala)




You have 3 options! Plane, boat and by Car:

 1) By car, we do not recommend you to go there with a rental car as you will have to pay more taxes (5 dollars to enter into Guna Yala + USD 5 the night) and your car will stay overnights at your own expense but we have posted a map on how to get there with your own transportation.

The road to San Blas through the densely forested jungle highlands of Panama is operated by licensed 4×4 transporters.  Our friends are the pionners of the road to San Blas since decades, they leave Panama City daily between 5am and 5.30am or at noon. The drive is approx 2.5-3hrs, depending on road and weather conditions.

The 4×4 transporters can hold up to 7 passengers, it can be a little squeeze. It is recommended to take only small bag with you for your stay and leave your main luggage at your hotel (if possible). For they way back, they will pick you up at the port between 9am and 10am or in the afternoon around 4pm. They are always in touch with our Kuna friends to coordinate your arrival, don't worry, just be patient sometimes.

Both way: USD 80 with Kuna Yala entry taxes. If you do not want to share the taxi with 7 people and would like more space, they also offer private charter for USD 400.00 (both ways) without Kuna Yala entry taxes

 2)By plane, you better take the plane if you want to go to the south of the San Blas Islands. Check Airpanama.

 3)By boat, (transport and sailing boat) are passing through the San Blas Islands. You can take them from Colon (Panama) or Cartagena (Colombia). There also some "lanchas" going from Miramar (Panama) to San Blas. As we have not experienced it and listen more bad stories than good stories, we cannot recommend you this mode of transportation. 

Feel free to contact us: Secretsofpanama@gmail.com