Trip: May 2015
Below is our Top 5 Things To Do in Panama, after visiting Panama City, Bocas del Toro and Boquete, part of the Just Carrying On – Top 5 Things To Do series. These lists are favorite activities, eats, and drinks from our travels around the world.
1. Mercado de Mariscos Restaurant
At first we came upon a boarded up restaurant on a side street and thought ‘this can’t be the place everyone recommended’. We were right—it was a Google Maps fail (so use our link below). Eventually we found the real fish market, on the water, teeming with stalls and small restaurants and shops making every variation of ceviche one could dream of, served on plates or in small styrofoam cups alongside cold beer to break the thick May humidity. It was a raw-seafood lovers paradise.
2. Bocas del Toro, get on a boat!
We unwittingly stumbled upon Bocas Del Toro during the rainy season, which meant lots of wet, gray skies and humidity. After we accepted that damp sheets and moist skin were going to be part of our vacation, we relaxed into our off the grid solar powered cottage Airbnb. The dining hall (where we ate family-style meals each night) extended out onto the water, with multiple docks to relax on during the afternoons. We rented a boat that took us snorkeling, for a delicious seafood lunch, and to explore an uninhabited island. The sun broke through, making the Caribbean water sparkle, and it was lovely.
Our Airbnb / Organize a boat trip from wherever you stay
3. Bocas sauce
There is an infamous spicy-vinegar sauce that is made in Bocas del Toro, aptly called Bocas Sauce. We poured it on everything, dreamed of it, schemed about how to bring it home, and ultimately bought multiple glass bottles to carry back to the US. Is it nostalgia, just a moment in time, or some bigger force that led us to so deeply adore Bocas Sauce so much? Who knows. But we’ll never forget it.
4. Tantalo Hotel Rooftop Bar
The hotel itself stands nondescript on the corner, once again leaving one to wonder if you’re in the right place. The inside is quiet—too quiet to be a fun place to hang out—until you travel up the back steps and come out onto the rooftop bar that overlooks the city, where the DJ is spinning tunes beneath strings of lights as the day turns to night. We enjoyed tasty (and huge) cocktails as the sun set.
5. Boquete Brewing Company
The town of Boquete was sleepy, seemingly an expat haven for the retired. While there we visited a coffee plantation, took a guided rainy and muddy hike through the forest, and then found ourselves in the charming establishment of Boquete Brewing Company. This was not a place we thought we would find delicious craft beer but apparently the micro brew scene is alive and well in the mountains of Panama. We’ll take it!
We did visit the Panama Canal, saw several large ships pass through, and it was very cool. This isn’t exactly the most unique thing to highlight, since every tourist surely comes through here while in Panama, but we all enjoyed the experience. Be sure to also take a walk on the Mirador del Pacifico, which teems with locals and tourists alike after the sun goes down.
Top 5 Things To Do in Panama is part of the Just Carrying On – Top 5 Things To Do series, which offers our best travel recommendations from around the world.