Escape to Veracruz Beach

At only 30 minutes away from Panama city, this little hidden beach named Playa Venado at Veracruz is a really nice place to relax a Saturday or Sunday.

Located in an area known for its several bars and restaurants, you will be immersed in a reggae, relaxed and casual atmosphere.  Fried fish and ceviche is a must and some local cocktails will be refreshing you while overlooking the views.

You can take paddling tours or classes with Paddle Paradise  or with Panama Stand Up Paddle Boarding Association, taking a fresh and traditional maracuya smoothie on the beach to relax while you are getting tanned, having lunch in a local restaurant with delicious grilled and fresh fish or any type of seafood, and ending your day with a lovely and yummy cocktail in the reggae bar at the sunset time.

Bring your camera and your good mood, and go to enjoy some free time in this original place, so close from the city!

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The Best Beaches near Panama City

Panama is blessed with its unique beaches in both the Pacific and the Atlantic. This amazing country has two long coasts and many islands that are ideal for family beach combing, surfing, kite surfing or other water sports.

Some of my favorite beaches I listed below:

  1.  Veracruz Beach:  It is at only 20 minutes from the City and this spot is great for those interested in Stand up Paddle or kayaking the bay of Panama.  There are several rentals for SUP.  Don’t miss it.
  2. Punta Chame:  if you like kite surfing, this is your spot.  A great mountain backdrop and very long beach.  There are also schools in the area for kite surfing.
  3.  Coronado and Serena beach:  this is a little bay ideal for surfing.  It is located close to condominiums and has easy access during the day.
  4. El Palmar and Rio Mar:  both beaches are ideal for surfers.  Some small hotels and restaurants in the area and close to Rio Mar more beachfront condominiums.  I love to go there during the weekday.
  5. Playa Langosta: in Colon on the Atlantic side this beach is on the road to Portobello and at only 1.5 hours from the city.  It is very very crowed during the weekends.
  6. Isla Grande:  Also in Colon Province a little farther from Portobello this is a small fishing town, this beach is great for swimming and also for surfing on a shallow reef.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why should you get married in Panama?

 

by Juliette Darmon

Panama is known as the perfect getaway for a short vacation and and is the perfect destination for nature lovers.

Its tropical climate and warm weather throughout the year, is a magical opportunity to visit Panama at any time.

December, January and February, the colder months in the North but still summer time in Panama.  You will be able to wear your summer wedding dress you were dreaming about!

If you are dreaming about a summer wedding destination, Panama is the place for you!  You will find any type of wedding you were looking for!

Panama is a melting pot and has plenty to offer.  From a cosmopolitan City and a hub for an amazing gastronomy to beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and Pacific where the sunset is waiting for you.

With a great eco-diversity and untouched beaches, you would have the possibility to get married in heavenly and white-sand islands around the archipelago of Bocas del Toro. What better place to spend and enjoy a romantic and relaxed wedding than the Caribbean coast, where the turquoise sea, coral reefs, sun, turtles and exotic fishes will be present?!

You could also prefer a more adventurous wedding in the highlands of Chiriqui, immersed in the mountain fresh air, and hiking the highlands, testing local coffee and honey, learning about butterflies, zip lining and relaxing in other amazing islands in Pacific side like Islas Secas in the Gulf of Chiriqui where snorkeling and kayaking are great for those more adventurous.

Are you more looking for a totally private and shy wedding? Then, the archipelago of San Blas will be the perfect place you were searching for. But be aware that it is also going to be a real rustic wedding!

Enjoy the blue sea view for kilometers, watch at the playful dolphins leap alongside sailboats, the deserted island, palm and coconut trees, cabanas in bamboos, and be immersed in Kuna community’s culture for your wedding.

*You could also decide to get married in a private sailboat, a real original experience not available everywhere…!

For the city lovers, you won’t totally feel out of place! You could have the chance to get married in the charming historic Casco Viejo, enjoying romantic dinners in typical or modern restaurants, staying in a luxurious resort or smaller cozy hotels, tasting local chocolates, walking around the Cinta Costera and visiting the surroundings as the Canal, the tropical rainforest, boarding on the jungle boat or even hiking in the National Park.

You now probably got that Panama has all the options required for any types of weddings and could make your wedding a real customized, appropriate, unique and unforgettable day, whatever your cultural and religious requests are.

Most of all, as you probably know Panama is a wonderful place for sustainable and green travels, and become therefore the perfect place for the trendy and fancy “Green Wedding”.

More than just getting married, take advantage of being in such a lush country for enjoying the honeymoon trip of your dreams.

Visit our honeymoon page here: http://ecocircuitos.com/tour-category/honeymoon/ and decide the kind of experience you are ready to live!

Do not forget that all our programs and itineraries can be arranged and tailor-made for you.  Contact us for more information at info@ecocircuitos.com

 

Going where the wind blows

By:  Carina Forster – Intern from Austria

Punta Chame is one of Panama`s best kitesurfing spots and has made its name to the world for its excellent conditions from November to April.

Carina Kitesurfing

The spot is a strap of land with constant N-NE and side-onshore wind, perfectly suitable for all levels, as you will always end up back on the beach and not out in the sea.

My session on this wide sandy beach spot started with the mixture of excitement and respect I always feel when the powerful strength of wind is lifting up my kite. After walking a few steps in the crystal blue water, shuffling my feet to avoid stepping on the only danger of the spot – the sting ray – I got on my board and started moving over the ocean. Going faster and faster over the large and uncrowded bay, I felt the salt and heat of the sun on my face while the coastline was getting smaller and smaller. It is pure happiness you feel when every single part of your body and mind is becoming one with the kite in the sky and the board on your feet, using the power of the wind to move forward. It always astonishes me, how I control this phenomenon without having a single thought on my mind, except this foolish song that keeps coming up when I`m happy.

In Punta Chame you can have several sessions a day, starting in the morning and finishing with a sundowner surrounded by the golden lights of dawn. It is a dream spot with constant wind for smooth freestyle or speed rides.

The Spot

  • November- April constant wind
  • N-NE and side-onshore
  • All levels, great for beginners
  • Soft sandy beach, no currents, small waves
  • No crowds, large space for launch
  • Hot weather, warm water (sunscreen!)
  • Dangers: sting rays, small jellyfish

Facilities

There are four kite schools with equipment rentals and repairs, different kinds of places to stay (hotels, hostels, apartments, guest houses), a restaurant and a supermarket.

Getting there and away

  • By car: (1.5 hours) take the Panamericana from Panama City south and exit at the Punta Chame “sign”. Rough road for half an hour till Punta Chame.
  • Public transport: take a bus from the bus terminal on direction of “el Valle de Anton” or “Penonome”. Step out in Coronado when you see the big sign ‘REY’ (a supermarket on the main road). From there take taxi to Punta Chame.

Best Diving and Snorkeling Spots in Panama

From: Dive Advisor

Panama was named after an indigenous word meaning, “abundance of fish.” This beautiful Central America paradise is one of the few places in the world where you can dive two oceans in one day. With the warm, tropical waters of the Caribbean on its east and the cooler waters of the Pacific on the west, it’s just a two-hour car ride between them in some places. Panama boasts 1,207km of Caribbean coast and 1,700km of Pacific coast.

On the Caribbean side, divers come for the abundance of colorful reef fish and corals. When rating the best diving in Central American, Bocas del Toro always comes up with its white sand beaches and many calm and the Bastimentos Marine National park. It’s a great place to learn how to dive and the marine life make it a great place to keep diving. Another popular spot on the Caribbean coast is Colon, only two hours from Panama City. Just offshore, the Portobelo National Marine Park has beautiful corals and the area is filled with a history of pirate battles and sunken ships.  Sir Francis Drake died at sea in 1596 and his body, clad in a full suit of armour and in a lead coffin, is thought to be off the coast of Portobello.

On the Pacific side, cooler waters and currents make encounters with pelagic common. Lucky divers can see several species of shark, whale sharks, humpback whales, dolphins, and more. Coiba National Marine Park is often referred to as the Galapagos of Central America and has the second largest coral reef in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Pearl Archipelago also offers great options close to Panama City.

Just nine degrees north of the equator, Panama is hot and humid year round. The rainy season is May- November and the dry season is December-April (with less humidity and almost no rain.) Panama is not in the hurricane belt, but it can get strong winds from nearby storms. Air temperatures throughout the year range form 20-32C, being a bit cooler in the winter/dry season. Water temperatures vary between coasts. The Caribbean side the water can be as cool as 25C in the winter and as warm as 28C in the summer. Coiba can get as cold as 20C during winter and reaches a high of around 24C in the summer.

Best Spots to Dive in Panama

Coiba National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes 38 islands. Lonely Planet says it’s “The best diving to be found along the Pacific Coast from Columbia to Mexico.” Coiba gets the big stuff. Sharks can be seen on almost every dive including white-tip reef sharks, black-tip reef sharks, and occasional hammerheads, bull, and tiger sharks. Whale sharks are common visitors from December to April. Humpback whales are seen July through October and orcas and pilot whales frequent the area. Large schools of mantas and mobula rays sometimes swim by, and most dives have turtles, schools of large fish, angelfish, butterflyfish, and dolphins.

On the Caribbean side of Panama, close to the Costa Rica boarder, is Bocas del Toro. This archipelago of nine large islands includes the protected area of Isla Bastimentos National Marine. Bocas is known for its well-preserved hard and soft corals. Being outside of the official hurricane zone, away from large cities and river mouths, the coral is very healthy. It is estimated that 95% of the coral species found in the Caribbean Sea can be found within the archipelago.

Tiger Rock is rated one of the best dive sites around Bocas del Toro, and is three rock pinnacles that rise up from the sea floor at 40m. It’s an advanced dive and can have strong currents, but is a good place to see sharks, rays, large fish schools, whale sharks and dolphins. Its location requires perfect sea conditions for boats to be able to get there. Dolphin Rock is another offshore rock formation where sharks can be seen and has lots of colorful fish life. The diving is also very good around Zapatillas Cays, another more distant boat ride.

Closer to town, Bouy Line is a poplar shallow site (near a deep water channel buoy) that has sea horses, lionfish, crabs, and lots of morays. Hospital Point is near the north end of Isla Solarte and has healthy cauliflower and brain corals on a sloping wall. The dive usually has a slow current and is 15m deep max. Sashek is another drift dive between Bastimentos and Carenero that has rare long lure frogfish. Airport is a protected site good for training dives, and has lots of coral.

Also on the Caribbean side, but further southeast is Portobelo National Park. This is also a popular diving area with great marine life. Being closer to Panama City, people come directly from the city to dive this area that has great reef dives and several wrecks.

Water temperatures on the Caribbean side are warm year round (23-27C) and a 3mm is usually plenty. On the Pacific side, colder currents bring waters (15-23C), so a 5mm will be comfortable. For those doing deep dives in the winter, thermoclines can be present, so a 7mm might be useful.

If you are looking for good snorkelling one of the best spots is the San Blas Archipelago.  In this Guna land is forbidden to dive with a tank but here you will find one of the most untouched coral reefs by mankind. The reef holds its beauty for decades now since people do not pollute the waters around it.  The Kuna Indians or Guna indians live from the sea and hunt on it. They hunt the reefs and sandbanks by using simple snorkeling gear and do not over fish their own waters because they only take what is needed to stay alive. They are scared that scuba dives will kill the great schools of fish and leave the Kuna without food to survive. They will preserve the coral reef for future generations this way.

The rich sea life and the crystal clear water will give you plenty enough time to drift away from the world above water. One of the easy places to get in touch with this sea life is the shipwreck near Isla Perro. This place is perfect for people not used to snorkeling or scuba diving but also gives people that have done it before a nice challenge to spot all the sea life around the ship. Don’t forget to bring your underwater camera because spotting a wild turtle, shark or octopus isn’t a rare sight in the waters around the San Blas Islands.   The best way to snorkel in San Blas is charter a sailing boat.  EcoCircuitos Panama organize this adventure for you.

10 Ways to be a Greener Traveler

We all enjoy traveling and discovering new cultures, meeting new people and trying new food.  But we do forget about the impact that our travels and adventures can leave to the world.  Take a look of our 10 recommendations to be a greener traveler, so you can explore the world and keep it for the future generations.

  1.  Bring your own water bottle:  instead of purchasing plastic bottles of water, bring your own bottle.  Panama’s water from the tap is good to drink, you will also can fill the water at the hotel, restaurant or tour company.   Check TAP (Travelers Against Plastic).
  2. Use e-tickets instead of printing vouchers: From flights, vouchers, itineraries,  online confirmations, and e-tickets.  You can have it in your phone when traveling (less consumption of paper and more trees) by choosing e-tickets.
  3. Conserve water and energy: Be mindful of the local communities water needs and energy costs by keeping showers short and reusing linens and towels in a hotel, hang your laundry to dry, brush your teeth, and do dishes without running the water.  And also, turn off the lights and TV when you leave the room.
  4.  Use biodegradable products instead of plastics: If a product is biodegradable, it simply means it can be broken down in the natural world into raw materials.
  5. Use local business and buy local products:  Tourism support local economies and alleviate poverty. But only if you’re actually spending the money locally.  Do your research ahead of time, and find nice locally-run business and hotels instead of big chains.
  6. Stay away from animals in captivity:  If you see an attraction or a hotel that advertises interaction with wild animals, be very wary.   We suggest to avoid any attraction based around animals in captivity.  Explore our national parks and try seeing them in the wild.
  7. Hike marked trails:  Don´t go off marked trails when hiking and maintain a safe distance from any animals you encounter.  Take your trash with you when you leave the trail.
  8. Recycle your Trash:  Make sure to ask the hotel and your tour operator about their recycling program.  If traveling to San Blas Islands make sure to bring the trash with you.
  9. Book non-stop flights whenever possible:   A significant percentage of a plane’s carbon emission come from takeoff and landing.
  10. Book a biking or walking tour:  those are low impact and help you get to know the area in a better way.  A good option is our walking tour Casco Antiguo and Cinta Costera.

Escape the Winter to Bocas del Toro, the Caribbean side of Panama

Are you looking for a family vacation that gives you the ability to visit an incredible variety of ecosystems, altitudinal life-zones and habitats all rich in distinctly different flora and fauna? Do you want to explore from the continental divide of Western Panama, to the edge of the mangrove forest, without ever changing hotels? Unpack, settle in and do what you came to do. We’ll take care of everything else in Tranquilo Bay Ecolodge.  This owner-operated, family-friendly eco lodge is located inside the rainforest overlooking the Caribbean Sea and the beautiful Panamanian jungle. We are adjacent to Bastimentos National Marine Park. This park covers a large portion of the archipelago of Bocas del Toro and is home to a variety of ecosystems which thrive at or around sea level. Our central location within the archipelago of Bocas del Toro allows you to explore some of the most biologically diverse areas of Panama and Central America.

7 Night Pacakge from $1850 per person / double occupancy – 3 days offsite excursions included

AVAILABLE FROM FEBRUARY 1 – 28, 2014

Day One Arrive Tranquilo Bay – afternoon arrival
A representative from Tranquilo Bay will meet you at the airport in Bocas Town and assist you with
your entry into Bocas del Toro. Upon arrival at Tranquilo Bay you will leisurely settle into your
cabana.

Day Two Snorkel & Beach trip to Zapatilla Cayes
These two unspoiled islands are protected by Bastimentos National Marine Park. These pristine white sand islands are covered in coconut palms, tropical hardwoods, sea grapes, and almond trees draped in a collage of bromeliads, ferns, orchids and other epiphytes. It is possible to walk around these islands while stopping to explore the white sand beaches and reefs covering the entire circumference. Snapper, barracuda and vivid tropical fish abound on the beautiful reefs surrounding
the area.

Day Three Tranquilo Bay Trails & Canopy Observation Tower
Tranquilo Bay’s grounds include over 200 acres with several kilometers of forested trails covering different habitats. This forest and its edge are home to many of Isla Bastimentos common favorites including multiple raptors, Montezuma Oropendolas, Red-lored Parrots, hummingbirds, 5-species of kingfishers, Green Ibis, tityras, woodpeckers, honeycreepers, tanagers, pigeons, antbirds, manakins, seedeaters, and herons, and, in season Three-wattled Bellbirds. White-faced Capuchins, three and two toed sloths, green iguanas, basilisk lizards, butterflies and poison dart frogs are also common on these trails. After dinner try to spot some of the local nocturnal residents such as the Common Potoo, Owls, Western Night Monkey, Four-eyed opossum, Wooly opossum, Crab-eating raccoon, Speckled Caiman and bats.

Day Four Cacao Plantation Tour
Following breakfast, we will deploy by boat on a 15-minute passage trek across Dolphin Bay for the Green Acres Cacao Plantation. Guided by Robert & Julie Peters, the owners and operators of the facility, we will tour their gardens as Robert presents us with extensive information about his farm. It is here where one of the rarest strands of cacao plant in the world, the Criollo, is grown. Details of his modest but extraordinary chocolate manufacturing techniques will accompany; including growth of the trees, a step-by-step process of how chocolate is made from bean to bar and a sample of the farm’s product. The day trip includes lunch onsite at an immaculately built stone-structured home, surrounded by grounds with an exotic collection of tropical plants from around the world. Multiple varieties of tropical birds and the dendrobates auratus (black and green poison dart frog) all live onsite for your discovery. This humble couple and their unique project of growing cacao to save the
rainforest, while making unparalleled chocolate, are not to be missed.

Day Five Kayak & Snorkel Jellyfish Lagoon
You may decide to take today’s excursion either in the morning or in the afternoon. Our biologist guides will take you on a kayak to a nearby jellyfish lagoon. You will search out water life above and below the surface focusing on the beautiful upside down jellyfish. Once you make your way out of the lagoon, you will snorkel at various spots in the bay near Tranquilo Bay to see a wide variety of underwater animals.

Day Six Cave Nivida Exploration
Following breakfast we will leave the facility in a support boat for a 15-minute ride across the Bastimentos National Marine Park. In kayaks we will meander through the glassy calm backwaters of Bahia Honda. Following the jungle’s edge of Isla Bastimentos we will paddle through channels, deep bays, mangrove cayes, and patch reef. Dolphins like the deep water of Bahia Honda and can often be seen breaching the surface for air. Many birds can be seen feeding near the waters edge, and the jungle is home to white-faced capuchins, two- and three-toed sloths, green iguanas, and caimans. In the back of Bahia Honda we will paddle up a small creek through lush vegetation. A short jungle walk leads to the entrance of cave Nivida. Entering the cave with lights, we will explore this subterranean phenomenon while wading through cold spring water and passing nectar bats. A support boat will be waiting at the mouth of the creek for our return to Tranquilo Bay.

Day Seven Explore Tranquilo Bay & its surrounds
Today, you have the choice in the morning or the afternoon between a guided hike on our two-mile nature trail watching for wildlife or a leisurely kayak and snorkeling session.

Day Eight  Depart Bocas del Toro

Packages includes:  Transfers between Town and Tranquilo Bay, Meals and beverages at Tranquilo Bay, all meals, snacks available all the time, deluxe air conditions cabanas, access to water and land activities, activities daily as designated in the itinerary.