The Dubai of Central America- Panama City, Panama
In March 2016, I (Steph) was in desperate need of a getaway and instantly my traveler friend Vanessa came to mind! Without question, she was ready to board on this adventure with me. After some discussion and going down the list of places we wanted to go, we decided on the Central Hub/ the Dubai of Central America! Yup, Panama City, Panama! Once we made that decision it was a done deal. We decided on a 6 day/ 5 night trip and within a week we were BOOKED and may I add the hotel was a STEAL, find out how below.
We all need those friends who are ready to book, pack and leave! Right?! If you don’t have one, find him or her NOW! Thank me later hahaha.
I don’t know about you but we love us some Airbnb. If you read all the reviews and use your best judgement you can find a great steal for lodging. Needless to say we found an Airbnb for $50 a night which is $25 each/night. Usually with airbnbs you are sharing a home or you rent an entire home from a host. Well, this wasn’t the case for us. Are you ready for this? Drum roll please….
Our Airbnb was a double bed hotel room at the Hard Rock Hotel In Panama City, Panama. Yes, the Hard Rock!! I kid you not, we were so surprised! What a deal! Hotel rooms at the Hard Rock are usually $150 + per night, we were able to get that for more than 80% off with Airbnb! Unfortunately the listing is no longer available, therefore, we cannot share it with you.
We definitely enjoyed our time in Panama, we did so much in 6 days! From all the activities that we participated in and places we visited, we will share 5 of our favorite things to do in Panama City, Panama. When you make it to Panama, try these 5 things.
1- Visit Casco Vejo
Casco Vejo is The Old Town it is known as the historic district of Panama City and it has amazing views of Panama City. You must go to Casco Vejo when you go to Panama. We took an uber (Yes, there’s uber in Panama City) there every day, whether it was to eat or for the night life. With it’s cobblestone floors, colorful walls, balconies, and narrow streets, Casco Vejo reminded me of Italy, Puerto Rico and even New Orleans.
2- Eat at the Mercado de Marisco
If you are a seafood lover this is a MUST! Mercado de Marisco is the Fish Market in Panama City, Panama. Once you walk in it is literally a fish market, with a variety of vendors selling a wide range of seafood from langostinos to lobsters. I must say if you can get pass the smell, you’ll be good to go! When you walk in you will find 3-4 ladies selling Ceviche, I think one small cup of ceviche is $1. This is the best ceviche ever! Get a small cup and carry on! Now, after grabbing your ceviche you will want to get to the best part of the fish market “the restaurant”. You will walk pass tables of fish, shrimp, langostinos and lots of running water to the back of the building where you will go up the stairs and to your right and TADA there you will find the restaurant! It’s pretty small but very YUMMY! They have all the seafood you need! On our first day there we grabbed fried fish, langostinos with fried plantains and rice. This place was so good that we managed to go back again on another day to grab some lobster and more langostinos. This place did not disappoint!
3- Playa Blanca- Resort
When we did our research before going to Panama we didn’t come across any information on beaches. Panama City, Panama is truly city life. Being island girls we wanted to go have a day where we laid on the beach and chill! After some research we decided to spend the day at Playa Blanca Beach Resort. This place is about 2 hours way. We rented a car and drove 2 hours to Playa Blanca Beach Resort where we spent our entire day. Prior to going to Panama we contacted the resort and purchased a day pass which allowed us to use the resort amenities and food. We left Panama at roughly 8AM arrived to the resort at 10AM and began our day. We hung out at the beach, pool, had lunch, we went on a horse ride and truly relaxed. Unfortunately, we couldn’t enjoy the beach as much as we wanted to because the water was cold and there were jellyfishes around so we were advised to stay away. We spent the majority of our time in the pool. Playa Blanca Beach Resort is an option if you want to visit a resort if not we suggest our #5 for beach time. Unfortunately, we don't have any pictures of our time in Playa Blanca.
Great food is always a very big part of our adventures, so when we heard about Tantalo from another blogger we added it to our list. The 2014 trip advisor award of excellence recipient is right at the entrance of this resto. We made plans to go on a Saturday, we figured we could dress nicely to eat there, then go to the rooftop bar for some dancing. Tantalo is decorated with an open flair with a quirky mural behind the bar with arts all over the walls. The restaurant has mainly high top seating and an extensive list of tapas. The plates are shareable size, we got enough for the both of us. We ordered about nine small plate...hmmm we had to try it all; including our favorites - the broiled goat cheese, Aunt Michelle jumbo shrimp, the Mediterranean fish bass cake and NY style shrimp mac’n cheese. Everything was exquisitely delicious. We were full and still wanted more. Lol. The cocktails were super tasty as well. We hung out for a little bit and when we were able to zip up our skirts again (lol) we went upstairs to the rooftop bar. It has a great atmosphere that attracts both locals and visitors, and has great views of the city. We danced the night away to some island and Latin vibes. Don’t miss out, when you go to Panama you must dine at Tantalo.
5- Isla Taboga “Island of Flowers”
As mentioned above we rented a car to go on our day trip to Playa Blanca to get some beach time. While chatting with the sales rep at the car rental place, he mentioned that we should visit Isla Taboga and once he mentioned BEACH we were sold. At this point we are going back home the next day but thank God we have a late flight. After chatting with him we instantly jumped on our iPad and started doing out research on how to get to this island. We took a ferry near the causeway which costed about $14 round-trip and the ride was approximately 1.5 hours. Once you get off the ferry the beach is right there! You can rent two beach chairs and an umbrella for $15. Isla Taboga is a cute little island on the gulf of Panama with boutique hotels, great food and beach! The beach was PACKED it reminded me of a beach scene in Brazil.
Isla Taboga gave us the perfect beach day on our last day and it was just what we needed to unwind! If you go to Panama we highly recommend visiting Isla Taboga if you love the beach. Pictures don't do it justice!
This trip to Panama City, Panama was great! We enjoyed our time, the culture, the country, the food and each other’s company. Have you been to Panama City, Panama? If so, let us know what you enjoyed about it.
Until next time!
Steph & Vannie