Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pana-mania Part 2-The Islands

The second half of our trip we headed out to the islands of Bocas Del Toro, specifically the Island of Bastimentos.  Getting there was something else all together!  

There are only 2 regional airlines that fly from Panama City to Bocas, and for whatever reason the flight times are either early in the morning, or later in the afternoon.  We wanted to get a full day in, so we opted for the 6:30 am flight, not realizing that we would be leaving the morning after the Gap opening party....needless to say, we skipped that whole sleeping thing (overrated) and went straight to the airport at 5am.  I can honestly say I've never stayed up all night!  But when in Panama......


It was a quick flight, and we were in Bocas Town by 7:30 am.  We had to wait for the boat to leave for our resort around 10:30, so we made our way to Miss Lillie's for breakfast, a beautiful little restaurant right on the water.

After breakfast we took a quick nap (or I did while Cacky frantically typed away work emails on her iPad before losing all service on the island!) and then headed out to Bastimentos Island to the Al Natural Resort.  About halfway through the 45 min boat ride we encountered a torrential downpour with only a few garbage bags to keep us dry.  I thought this was the dry season?!?!  Luckily the rain got it out of its system and we had beautiful weather the rest of our stay.  

I can't say enough good things about this resort!  Open air huts right on the water, we heard the waves crashing at our feet every night!  It was incredible.  





We opted for the all-inclusive package, so each day we went on a different excursion.  Snorkeling, dolphin watching, canoeing through mangroves, and touring the indigenous village of Salt Creek on the island.  We spent the afternoons lounging on the dock, taking the kayaks out, and relaxing with a cocktail in hand!  All meals were eaten together in the main bar, we met the most amazing people, our dinners lasted so long the staff ended up going to bed and letting us help ourselves!


Every night was a 3-course ordeal!
All-inclusive was truly all-inclusive-Javier made sure to stock our cooler for all excursions!
My one and only attempt at bar tending
Passion fruit rum shots for all!
Night Monkeys!  These little guys would show their tails through the roof of the restaurant signaling they were ready for their nightly bananas!
The native Red Frog and our hosts in the Salt Creek Village

We spent 3 nights at Al Natural before heading back to Bocas Town for our last night (had to catch another 7 am flight back to Panama City, seriously who set up these flight times?!?!)  We spent the last night at La Coralina .  It was very nice, and I'm glad we saw something different, but it did not even compare to our stay at Al Natural.  We had a nice dinner at the hotel restaurant and then headed into Bocas Town to experience the nightlife.  We ended up at Barco Hundido and Aqua Lounge, the two hot spots in town.  It was a mix of foreign backpackers and locals, interesting scene, again glad we saw it, but not my favorite part of the trip!

A much needed rum-punch upon arrival at La Coralina
View from the hotel
I found myself in yet another hammock 
Night out in Bocas Town
Scene at Aqua Lodge 

Sunrise at La Coralina before our 7am flight
Our last few moments in Panama were just as good as the rest of the trip.  Due to the kindness of some new friends, a driver was waiting for us at the regional airport to greet us upon arrival from Bocas Del Toro.  Jose (our second of the trip) took us from the airport to an authentic Panamanian diner for brunch, then to the craft market so we could pick up a few last souvenirs before taking us to the international airport for our flight back to the US.  

Our buddy Jose

Authentic Panamanian brunch, perfect for "una resaca"-HANGOVER!

Our flight ended up being 4 hours delayed back to NY.  Yes a bummer, but what can you do?  With the amazing trip we had, where not a single thing went wrong, how could we complain?

We managed to turn the negative into a positive by spending the afternoon in the Copa Lounge, wouldn't expect anything less!


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