Where to Eat and Drink in Panama?

Annie´s Dining Suggestions

Panama offers a wide choice of restaurants to suit everyone’s taste and budget. From great cuisine and international chefs  to real Panamanian food experience.   I love to eat and here are my suggestions to make your gastronomic experience in Panama City unforgettable.

IN PANAMA CITY:

AMERICAN TRADE HOTEL  (Colonial Section of the City – American Trade Hotel) Offering sophisticated lunch and dinner menus offering local cuisine using fresh, local and seasonal products. This is great venue for groups. Panamanian Clara Icaza is the chef. Tel: +507 211 -2200

ATLANTIC & PACIFIC Co.  (The Miraflores locks at the Panama Canal) with the best view in town overlooking the Panama Canal, this restaurant offers a delicious menu created by one of the best chefs of Panama Cuquita Arias.  Fresh ingredients and Panamanian gourmet dishes.  Open: Monday to Sunday  Tel:  +507-232-3120

LAS CLEMENTINAS BAR AND CAFE (Casco Antiguo) –  The menu is best described as Panamanian classics lovingly updated and made with care.  Each dish–from risotto con coco to ropa vieja–has been researched and refined to perfection by the  Chef, who has created Panamanian food as it was meant to be, using fresh, local ingredients, many of which come right from Las Clementinas garden.  Open:  Monday to Saturday.  Tel:  +507-228-7613

CALIOPE (Casco Antiguo – Colonial Section of the City, Av. Central, Edificio Teatro Amador, 3rd floor) Casco Antiguo`s first farm to table dining, using fresh and local ingredients, the chef is very creative and the food is fantastic.  My favorite is Cedula 3.  Reservation is a must.  Tel:  +507 212 – 1565

 INTIMO (Calle 27 Este, San Francisco) – Recently written up in the New York Times, this 20 seat restaurant provides unique dishes that have be created with local seasonal products.   Tel: +507-388-1365

TANTALO KITCHEN (Casco Antiguo) – Offers an internationally inspired tapas-style menu with a Panamanian touch. Each dish is a creative combination of local meats, fish and vegetables with local, Mediterranean and Latin American influences.  Open:  Monday to Sunday.  Tel: +507-262-4030

LAS BOVEDAS (Casco Antiguo) – Exclusive setting in the colonial part of the city. Good French cuisine with excellent atmosphere in the subterranean prison vaults said to have been used during the Spanish era. Try the soups, cream sauces and mushrooms. Seafood dishes are delicious. Friday and Saturday nights live jazz shows.  Open:  Monday to Saturdays.               Tel:  +507-229-80258

VINOTECA (Obarrio, Edificio de las Americas) This is one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Panama.  It is a family business run by Chef Ciniglio and his daughter.  You will feel at home while eat amazing combinations with excellent wines.   Go for the chef recommendation.  Open:  Monday to Saturday.  Tel: +507-223-7734

LAS TINAJAS (Bella Vista, Calle 51) – Rustic and charming ambiance, specializing in traditional Panamanian cuisine and folkloric shows. Try “pixbae crab salad” and “Tamal de Olla.” Nice typical desserts.  My favorite:  flan de coco.  Open:  Monday to Saturday.  Tel:  +507-263-7890

SAL SI PUEDES AT THE BRISTOL HOTEL – The creation of Panama´s renowned chef, Cuquita Arias. Panamanian gourmet made from the freshest native ingredients. Deserts to-die-for. Try the panamanian ceviche.  Open:  Everyday.                             Tel: +507-294-7890

MERCADO DEL MARISCOS – (Avenida Balboa & Cinta Costera)  – The city fish market, is Panama City’s seafood haven and a paradise for seafood lovers. With over 70 stalls selling the country’s freshest produce, there are also stands serving some of the best ready-to-eat Panamanian ceviche.  My favorite:  Jumbo Shrimp cocktail and ceviche combinación.  Open:  daily.

LA POSTA: (Calle 49, Bella Vista) – A real secret, hidden away from the noise. It is in a house from the last century. Try the homemade bread and pasta, fresh seafood and my favorite El chuleton chiricano. This restaurant  is an old and beautiful house with a very nice decoration.  Open:  Monday to Saturday.  Tel: +507-269-1076

IL POMODORO (El Cangrejo) – In very nice outdoor ambience the restaurant offers a wide variety of Italian specialties, including pasta, pizza, meat and seafood dishes. Casual and pretty, with delightful internal patio setting. Finish up with the rum cake. The Wine Bar next door, by the same owner, is also one of Panama’s best wine & cheese spot.  Open:  Monday to Sunday.  Tel: +507-269-5836

SIETE MARES (El Cangrejo) – Serves Atlantic and Pacific Ocean delicacies in a new and luxurious setting. Specializes in seafood and has an extensive wine list.  Open:  Monday to Sunday.  Tel: +507-264-0144

MARTIN FIERRO (El Cangrejo) – Specializes in fresh Argentinean-style meats and seafood.
Dishes arrive at your table sizzling from the grill!  Open:  Monday to Sunday.  Tel: +507-264-1927

LOS AÑOS LOCOS (San Francisco) – Specializes in fresh Argentinean-style meats. Dishes arrive at your table sizzling from the grill!  If you like meat, try Entraña is a very good cut.  Open daily.  Tel: +507-226-6966

SEGUNDO MUELLE  (San Francisco) – Specializes in fresh and Peruvian seafood.  Delicious desserts, this is one of the best seafood restaurants of Panama.   My favorite dishes here are La Causa and the peruvian cebiche.  Open:  Monday to Sunday.  Tel:  +507-391-9234

EGO/NARCISO (Old Quarters) – Fusion of Europe and Asian food.  Very good for wine, drinks and tapas.  The octopus is very good.  Open daily.  Tel; +507-262-2045

MAREA CEVICHE & LATIN FOOD (Multiplaza, Paitilla)  specialties are ceviches and seafood and very good cocktails.

DONDE JOSE (Avenida Central y Calle A – Casco Antiguo) Panamanian food with a twist.  If you want to try this restaurant we suggest you to reserve with one month in advance.  Try the octopus, very good.

Open:  Tuesday to Saturday.  Tel:  +507-262-1682

MADRIGAL (Casco Viejo)  Very good and creative menu.  The Spanish chef is fantastic and very good selection of wines.  You will need a reservation in this place.  Open:  Monday to Saturday.  Tel:  +507-211-1956

CHALET SUIZO (Via Argentina) A small, and intimate restaurant, specializes in a variety of Swiss dishes, Including: Raclette and Cheese Fondue, Wienerschnitzel, Sauerkraut, Sausages, Veal. The famous chef Willy Diggelmann assures that his Swiss dishes are unsurpassed. Open Monday to Sunday.  Tel: +507-263-8571

MANOLO CARACOL (Casco Viejo)A kitchen focused on the fresh, on the historic roots of his epicenter, the fisherman Barbate from his childhood in Spain, on the traveled and the lived, on the European, African, Asian and American influences, they all cook on the brain of Manuel Madueño, also known as Manolo Caracol. He produces food according with his feelings, on how he lives: generous of spirit, generous pockets, plenty of creativity, such as the tropic that hosts him. 

MARKET (Calle 48, Marbella) – Market is one of the most popular restaurant in Panama City, providing a fresh selection of dishes to serve a wide variety of tastes.  From a quick business lunch of hamburgers and wraps to a night out for premium grade steak and a bottle of wine, you’re guaranteed to experience a delicious meal in a lively setting.  My favorites: BBQ  Baby Back Ribs and the sliders.

MAITO (Via Cincuentenario y final de Calle 50) –  An old house converted into a modern restaurant.  It offers a great atmosphere, delightful cuisine, and extremely accommodating service.  My choice here are Rissotto Colon and Calamares Rellenos.

HUMO (San Francisco Calle 50 y Calle 70)  The atomsphere is billed as southern smokehouse BBQ. The food and service are excellent. My recommendation is the brisket.  If you like BBQ this is one of the best places in Panama.  Also for vegetarians the veggie burger is excellent.   Many choices as the lobster taco on season one of my favorite.   Reservation is a must.

MASALA (Bella Vista, entre Calle 44 y 45) – Great Indian food and if you are vegetarian this is a very good option.  Here my options are Mango Lassi and Butter chicken.

THE GARDEN 2112 (Calle 48, Uruguay) – A new Thai restaurant with a wide selection of dishes and beautiful decoration.  The staff is friendly and chef is from Thailandia.

THE CORNER 76 (Cale 76 San Francisco, next to supermercado El Rey) – This is a great places for burgers.  Nice ambience, great service and excellent quality.

PATAGONIA GRILL (Via Cincuentenario y Calle 4ta Sur – San Francisco – Panamá) – One of my favorite places to eat a good steak.  Their specialty is the Argentine Parrillada with great cuts of meats.   If you are vegetarian… don´t go!

MATSUEI (Eusebio A. Morales 12A)  Matsuei is my favorite japanese restaurant in Panama and one of finest sushi and raw fish experiences.  They offer a varied of Imported fish from unagi (eel) to maguro (tuna).   The owner is an excellent chef and always welcoming new guests.

Restaurants outside Panama City:

LOS CAMISONES (Pass Coronado and Santa Clara Beaches and you will find the entrance on your right.) – Seafood specialists. Try the shrimps with garlic sauce and coconut rice. Delicious!

CASA DE LOURDES (El Valle) – One of Panama City’s best chefs (Golosinas Restaurant) has created an Itialian villa weekend retreat in the “hill station” of El Valle de Anton. The food is rich, inventive, nouvelle gourmet with wonderful Panamanian accents. Excellent wine selection and an experience not to be missed as you dine poolside with Lourdes.

EL SITIO-(Playa Venao, Pedasi) – Very good atmosphere, beach front and one of the best restaurants in the area.  Their specialty is Octopus Pad Thai, not to be missed.

CUATRO (David) – a place of unique flavor in Chiriqui province.  A Panamanian style food with a touch of quality.  Try the ribs, fresh tuna among other options.

ESA FLACA RICA (David) If you love burgers like me, this stree car is an excellent choice.  Open from 5.00PM to 10.00PM and with locations in Costa del Este Panama and David, Chiriqui.

PANAMONTE (Boquete) – This charming restaurant  is one of the best in the highlands. Inventive dishes based on traditional Panamanian cuisine include pumpkin soup, shrimp-and-plantain croquettes, mountain trout sauteed with almonds, and grilled beef tenderloin topped with a three-pepper sauce. It’s served in a historic European atmosphere that’s hardly changed over the past century. Sunday breakfast is popular.  My favorite:  Egg Benedict with Panamanian Tortilla.

THE ROCK (Boquete) –  A very nice atmosphere and different options.  Ribs and burgers are very good and the garlic soup not to miss.

EL PIANISTA (Boquete) – An Italian in the highlands offers a wide selection of dishes.  Pizzas, Parmesan eggplant, risottos and more.  The ambience is nice, close to a river and with a good selection of wines.

GUARI GUARI (Bocas del Toro)  –  This restaurant should not be missed while visiting Bocas! It is not easy to find but the food is very good!

THE FIREFLY RESTAURANT & BAR (Isla Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro) beautiful and romantic ambience and you will need reservation.  It is a tapas style and my favorite is the ahi seared tuna and the prawn skweres and very good cocktails.

Nightlife in Panama City – Bars

Casco Viejo is the place to go at night in Panama City. Stroll in the cobblestone streets at night and you can discover always a new fun place. Also, explore the City and the new breweries that are popping up in different neighborhoods.

Below some of my favorites places.

GATTO BLANCO (Casco Viejo)  This is one of my favorite little bars in Casco.  Located at the rooftop of Casa Nurati Hotel you can find this rooftop that offers a great view of Panama Skyline and a relax setting.

DIVINO ENOTECA (Casco Viejo) – Opened by three friends united by the same passion for wine, DiVino Enoteca specializes in serving quality, international wines. The bar hosts educational tasting nights for those interested in boosting their wine knowledge and offers tapas style plates with an Italian touch.

TANTALO (Casco Viejo) Located at the roof top of Tantalo Hotel, this small rooftop bar has nice views of the City skyline and the old Quarters.  Very nice ambience and usually good DJs.  The drinks are a bit expensive. 

BARLOVENTO (Casco Viejo).  The good thing is that the entrance is free for women.  This is a relaxed bar that offers views of Casco Viejo at night and a nice screen.  Nice ambience and good for dancing. 

CASA JAGUAR (Casco Viejo)  Another bar that is usually free for girls. A very nice ambience, good music, excellent drinks, but a bit pricy.

RELIC BAR (Casco Viejo) Located in the bottom floor of Luna Castle Hostel, this rustic bar offers an indoor and outdoor areas.  Indoor, depending on the hour of arrival, it might be crowded and the music is loud. Outdoor it´s more relax, offering tables and chairs so you can sit, talk and have some drinks.   This is a laidback place where backpackers and a young crowd  hangs out.

1400 ROOFTOP BAR (Blue Bay Hotel in Obarrio)  From 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm they have promotions in Champagne and Sushi. After 9:00 pm, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday they offer a variety of music. They have an outdoor area.

EL SOTANO/EL APARTAMENTO (Casco Viejo) Location: Bella Vista. Entry fee: Depends on the event.  In El Sotano you can find live rock music and by going up the stair you arrive to El Apartamento where you can find indie music and have some drinks. They have several events during the month with themes or even special DJs.

Beer Bars in Panama City

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Some of these bars offer local craft beers, national beers and original house brew beers.

CASA BRUJA  (Costa del Este) This is a brewing company that produces very good beers ince 2013.   They create quality and very different beers.  My favorite LA FULA!

LA RANA DORADA  (Casco Viejo and Avenida Eloy Alfaro and Calle 11) –  A very original pub offers good homemade local beers.  The brewery, which can be glimpsed from the interior of the restaurant, adds to Rana Dorada’s beer-themed décor with its soft, yellow-painted walls and classic wooden furniture. Along with an appetising food menu offering finger foods, pizza and more recently ceviche, the pub serves premier pilsner, pale ale, blanche and porter beer, all brewed in-house.

THE BREW STOP (Calle Andres Mojica & San Francisco) This pub is great for beer lovers, good ambience, excellent selection of local and international beers and my favorite, good apple cider.

ISTMO BREW PUB (Condado del Rey, San Francisco y el Cangrejo)  They offer entertainment (pool table), food and a wide variety of local, crafted and international beers.

 

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Luxury Sailing the Bay of Panama

EcoCircuitos Panama is proud to offer new sailing options in the Bay of Panama. Unique private options include day trips to Taboga Island, known as the “Island of Flowers, evening charters in the Bay of Panama, admire Panama City´s amazing skyline while you navigate past ships waiting to cross the canal and private Panama Canal partial transits. Sail under the famous Bridge of the Americas, transit the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks and then sail through the renowned Culebra Cut to the town of Gamboa. Overnight sailing options are also available to the Contadora Island.

This is a new product, more details are available upon request. This option is available throughout the year. All the options include sailboat, crew, snacks and beverages. Depending on the option, lunch and breakfast could be included.

For more information contact info@ecocircuitos.com.

PANAMA A SMOKING FREE DESTINATION

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Casco Antiguo

Since 2008 Panama has adopted some of the strictest smoking laws in the world. The country banned smoking in nearly all-public spaces, indoor and out, as well as all workplaces and sports venues. It is illegal to smoke in ¨open and closed areas, both public and private¨. The fines for violating this law can run as high as $100.00

That same year, it became the first country in the Americas to ban all advertising, promotion or sponsorship of tobacco products. It also requires 60 percent of tobacco packaging to be covered with health warnings.

These efforts helped Panama become the No. 1 nation at cutting smoking prevalence over the past 15 years, bringing the estimated number of smokers down to 191,200 this year, according to a World Health Organization report. The report details estimated smoking prevalence by country every five years starting in 2000, with projections through 2025.1 To figure out which countries had seen the biggest improvements, I calculated the percentage change in smoking prevalence from 2000 to 2015. Panama topped the list, with a 57 percent decline. I also calculated the percentage change projected from 2015 to 2025.

Smokers only are allow to smoke outside hotels, in patios and in designated areas. Depends on the hotel, but, generally, anywhere outdoors is OK.  If the restaurant has an outside terrace, most restaurants will permit smoking there — however, there are exceptions: some will make you step on to the sidewalk.   The law, is written to prohibit smoking in “all public areas” — and the interpretation of that is apparently up to individual proprietors and municipalities.

With texts from Anna Maria Barry-Jester

Panama Jazz Festival 2016

On January 11-16, 2016 the annual Panama Jazz Festival, one of the region’s largest music education events held in Panama City, marks its 13th anniversary. Since its foundation in September 2003 by Panamanian Grammy-winning pianist Danilo Pérez, the festival has become a cultural tourist attraction by drawing audiences from across the globe.

We are offering an amazing itinerary to take advantage of this beautiful event.

Jan 11 – Welcome to Panama!

Today at the appropriate time an EcoCircuitos representative will meet you at the Tocumen International Airport to assist and transfer you to your hotel located in Panama City. At this time you will also receive an EcoCircuitos information kit that will provide you with all the details for your stay in Panama. Once you arrive to your hotel, please check-in at the hotel.

Overnight hotel in Panama City for 5 nights in chosen hotel.

Jan 12 – Half Day Historical City Tour

During the half-day morning tour you will visit the ruins of Old Panama, climb up the Cathedral tower, visit the Old Panama Museum and then continue to Casco Viejo (the old city compound), which dates from the late 1600’s. A bilingual guide will describe the events in history leading up to the eventual movement of the capital city to its present location. Casco Viejo is home to monuments to Ferdinand de Lesseps and other Frenchmen instrumental in the ill-fated attempt of the French to construct a canal through Panama. Your tour ends with a visit to the Panama Canal Museum. (B)

 Optional Jazz Concert: MAIN ARTIST: Rudresh Mahanthappa Quintet

http://rudreshm.com

Show Opening: Joshue Ashby C3 Project

http://www.tvn-2.com/heroesporpanama/perfiles/joshue_ashby/

SHOW TIME: 8 p.m. Place: Ateneo, Ciudad del Saber

Prices from $20.00 – $200.00

 Jan 13 – Free day for Relaxing or optional tours in Panama City

For a list of tours visit: here

 Optional Gala night at Teatro Anayansi, Centro de Convenciones Atlapa

MAIN ARTIST: Danny Rivera y Danilo Pérez + The Pan-American Detroit Big Band

http://www.dannyrivera.com

http://www.detroitjazzfest.com

SHOW TIME: 8 p.m.

Prices from $15.00 – $200.00

Jan 14 – Free day for Relaxing or optional tours in Panama City

For a list of tours visit: here

 Optional Jazz Concert: MAIN ARTIST Randy Weston

Show Opening: John & Tom Patitucci 4et

SHOW TIME: 8 p.m. Place: Ateneo, Ciudad del Saber

 Jan 15 – Free day for optional tours in Panama City

MAIN ARTIST: MCA Power Trio (David Murray, Terry Lyne Carrington, Geri Allen)

Show Opening: Dominique Eade con New England Conservatory

SHOW TIME: 8 p.m. Place: Ateneo, Ciudad del Saber

Prices from $20.00 – $200.00

 ** END OF SERVICES**

 Price per person in double occupancy: from $499.00

 Includes:  all transfers, 4 nights of lodging + taxes, bilingual guide on tour, entrance fees to attraction, 24 hour assistance from EcoCircuitos staff, Panama kit including a PBA Stainless Steel bottle and lots of fun!

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.

Tips for crossing the border from Costa Rica to Bocas del Toro, Panama

The border between Costa Rica and Panama, on the Caribbean side of these two countries, is the Sixaola River. The town on the Costa Rican side of the river is called Sixaola, here you will visit customs to check out of the country of Costa Rica and meet your contact from Panama. You will walk across the bridge to enter Panama with your new driver, leaving your Costa Rican driver to return home. The town in Panama, across the Sixaola River, is called Guabito.

The drive in Panama will take you across the low flood plains of the Sixaola and Changinola river valley’s. This area collects the watershed from the massive Talamanca mountain range, which extends through both countries. This is an important wetland for many species of tropical flora and fauna and includes habitats such as rivers, humid lowland forest, mangroves, coastal lagoons and other marine coastal environments.

A wetland reserve taking in the most of the coastal region of this area is called the San San Pond Sak (Humedal de San-San Pond Sak). This sparsely populated area is home to several endangered species such as manatees (sea cows), hawksbill, leatherback, and loggerhead sea turtles.

Next you will come to Changinola, home of United Fruit Co. /Chiquita Brands Intl., this town is older than the country itself and thick on lore of a bygone era when it was simply known as, The Banana Republic.

Crossing the bridge over the Changinola river is like stepping back in time, you might have to stop and wait for the company train to pass over first, it is only a one lane bridge. From here you will be entering the densely forested foothills of the Talamanca Range. Just up in these mountains is La Amistad Bi-national Park, some 2 million acres in size, it is jointly protect on both sides of the border. This represents one of the largest protected tracts of primary forest in Central America, and it is a UNESCO world heritage site. Keep an eye on edge of the canopy, the wildlife is spectacular. You will be passing over several elevated bluffs with spectacular views of Bocas del Toro Archipelago below.

The location of this unique site in Central America, where Quaternary glaciers have left their mark, has allowed the fauna and flora of North and South America to interbreed. Tropical rainforests cover most of the area. Four different Indian tribes inhabit this property, which benefits from close co-operation between Costa Rica and Panama.

After several small pueblos, you will be passing the outskirts of Almirante, another antiquated banana town. About 12-13 miles outside of Almirante, at kilometer marker 48 ½, is a yellow sign and pink gate for La Escapada. This small eco lodge is built on a steep slope near the waters edge, the grounds are beautiful, and the birdlife is outstanding. Here you can take a short break and stretch your legs, or have a cold beverage and watch the marine life from the dock.  The boat will be waiting there to transfer to the hotel of your choice.  Tranquilo Bay is our suggested lodge for coming days.  From here it is a beautiful 45-minute boat ride to your final destination. The ocean leg of your journey will take you across Bahia Almirante passing Sheppard and San Cristobal Islands, and into Dark Land. The glassy calm and emerald green sea, and the long shadows from the steep mountainous terrain, blend to make an intense surrounding. A narrow channel passes into another smaller lagoon named Boca Torito, or little bull’s mouth. It is here where the mother dolphins bring their calves to rear. Leaving the dolphins behind, we will enter Bastimentos National Marine Park, the mangrove islets, sea grass beds and coral flats are stunning. Oceanic birds such as brown boobies, magnificent frigates, and brown pelicans will be feeding on marine wildlife that is fleeing from predators below. As we round the southern peninsula of Isla Bastimentos, we will have our first glimpse of the Zapatilla Keys, and the lodge for the next days:  Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure lodge.

Two amazing historical visits in Casco Antiguo

If you are in Panama you can’t miss a walk in the Old Quarters (Casco Antiguo) and learn about the amazing history of the Isthmus.  The beautiful architectonic styles, narrow streets and cafes will fascinate any traveler looking for a bit of authenticity in this cosmopolitan Panama City.  In colorful Casco, the Spanish and French colonial houses mixes with the art deco and neoclassical style.  If you go for the first time, don´t miss the Church of the Golden Altar and the Flat Arch.

The Golden Altar: The massive golden altar (altar de oro) is a prime tourist attraction at Iglesia de San José (Avenida A between Calle 8 and Calle 9, 7 a.m.– noon and 2–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 5 a.m.–noon and 5–8 p.m. Sun.). Legend has it that the altar was saved from the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan during the sacking of the original Panama City when a priest ordered it painted black, hiding its true value.

The Flat Arch: The original Iglesia de Santo Domingo (Avenida A and Calle 3 Oeste) was built in the 17th century, but it burned twice and was not rebuilt after the fire of 1756. It remains famous for one thing that survived, seemingly miraculously: the nearly flat arch (Arco Chato). Since it was built without a keystone and had almost no curve to it, it should have been a very precarious structure, yet it remained intact even as everything around it fell into ruins. One of the reasons a transoceanic canal was built in Panama was that engineers concluded from the intact arch that Panama was not subject to the kinds of devastating earthquakes that afflict its Central American neighbors.

Source:  Moon guides.