For my 30th birthday [Dec 09], my husband took me on a trip of a life-time to Panama City, Panama – out of all of our travels together this was one of our favourite destinations! To be quite honest, prior to traveling to Panama, I did not know much about this Central American country – I only really knew that there was a famous canal. However, I quickly discovered that this country was astoundingly diverse with a vibrant culture, the most friendly people, lively cities, amazing architecture and tranquil islands. It is safe to say I have officially fallen in love with this magical destination – a place that seems so undiscovered.
The historic ‘old quarter’ known as Casco Viejo is the heart and soul of Panama City – believe me when I say, I have never seen a more breathtaking photogenic neighborhood in my life. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is no detail that goes unnoticed in Casco: cobblestone streets, trendy restaurants, chic boutiques and the most vibrant buildings you have ever laid eyes on.
As my husband and I have two family members residing in Casco, we were extremely lucky to have the most spectacular “Casco Viejo/Panama Guides” showing us all of the their favourite hot spots. After frequenting many boutiques and restaurants, we quickly fell in love with our top 4:
- Mahalo [Restaurant]
- Pedro Mandinga [Rum Bar]
- La Rana Dorada [Restaurant]
- Undercover [Shopping]
- Casa Thai [Thai Massage – the owner Renu is THE BEST!]
The Pearl Islands – Isla Contadora
During our time in Panama, we ventured off to one of the Pearl Islands called Isla Contadora for the day. Since the island is only a two-hour ferry ride away from Panama City, many tourists [and locals] frequent this destination seeking a mini-island getaway. I am going to be honest and tell you that our ferry ride was less than “smooth sailing” – the ocean was not quite calm on this day.
As we were only on the island for the day, we did have a spectacular time riding around in a golf cart exploring this beautiful island [3km in total] full of lush forests and white sand beaches – including a deserted hotel + ferry boat! As we were on the island for a few hours, we did not have the opportunity to seek out the cuisine the island had to offer – our main focus was to explore the island + relax on the beach [objective = met].
Fun Fact: One of the original Survivors was filmed on the Pearl Islands!
On my birthday my husband treated me to what was a spectacular stay at the Trump Hotel located in Panama City [although the entire trip exceeded my expectations]. This stunning hotel boasts one of the most breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the Panama City Skyline – truly picturesque!
As we had one full day at this hotel, we spent the majority of our time on the 13th floor at the Trump Ocean Club lounging by the infinity pool sipping champagne [of course] + basking in the sun – I mean with views exuding perfection, how could you not?
Following our day lounging, we had a spectacular dinner at one of the best restaurants in Panama called La Vespa – the Italian food was mouthwatering and the ambiance [with jazz music] was simply romantic.
The Buenaventura Golf & Beach Resort
For two nights and three days we stayed at The Buenaventura Golf + Beach Resort [formally a JW Marriott]. Just like every destination we stayed at in Panama, this resort was simply breathtaking – coastal elegance at its best! As we allegedly went to this resort during their “off-season”, it truly felt like our own slice of heaven – a tranquil paradise is what I like to call it.
Being an Autograph Collection resort, everything was beyond perfection [minus the lack of restaurants open]. The resort had all of the necessary amenities you could ever hope for to allow for a relaxing getaway:
- Relaxing pools [including infinity]
- Delicious cocktails
- Postcard worthy beaches + lush, tropical gardens
- Tennis courts [my husbands heaven]
- 18-hole Nicklaus Design golf course
I hope that this post has truly inspired you to seek destinations you have never thought exploring and creating new memories.
Cheers to Panama + escaping to new places.
Lots of love,
Sara Locke – XOXO