For the weekend the students in my program were required to travel to Panama so that we could get out Passports re-stamped for another 90 days. For anyone who hasn’t traveled out of the country before, you typically have 90 days which you are allowed in a country as a tourist. So, we crossed over to Panama to get re-stamped another 90 days when we crossed over the Costa Rican boarder to avoid any immigration problems. All the students in our group when to Panama, but we were divided into groups of eight. Some went with our program and other groups, including my group, went on their own. Which benefited us in the end because we saved about $100 and got just as much as the other group.
Anyway, Panama is absolutely crazy. Where do I even start? Well the night before we stayed in Puerto Viejo CR at this hotel called Rocking J’s where you can sleep in a hammock for $7 a night. It was great and I definitely plan on going back.
The next day we caught our bus to the boarder of Costa Rica and Panama. From there we took a bus and then a water taxi to Bolcas Del Toro, Panama, AKA Paradise. We stayed at Coconut Hostel, which had a room with four bunk beds, enough spaces for our group. It was $10 a night per person with pancake breakfast in the morning. The manager was extremely friendly and hospitable. As soon as we got there we wanted to check out the beach, but since the main island is a sea port, there are not beaches. So we walked around a but till we found a restaurant with a dock, who was also having happy hour when we showed up. We were the only ones there so we made a deal with the bartender that we would buy drinks if they let us jump off the dock. You can also eat lunch for about $4 at a small, locally owned restaurant next to Coconut Hostel.
Later at night we took a $1 water taxi to Aqua Lounge – probably the best bar I think I have and ever will go to. It was free drinks for ladies that night, but the best part was that the bar is built on a doc above the water. They cut holes in the dock to reveal the ocean underneath so guests can jump, tightrope (or attempt to), and rope swing into the pools of water. It was a splash!
The next morning our group took a trip though the panama islands for $22 dollars. My Biology books came to life that day! We traveled through Dolphin Bay, but unfortunately did not see any dolphins. However we did spend four hours on Zapatillo Isla Uno, the most beautiful beach I have ever been too. Next, we went snorkeling in a nearby reef, were I swam with Jellyfish (Agua Mala), Angel Fish, and other tropical wonders. There were so many varieties of coral and marine plants, too. It was magical. We ended the day by passing by Sloth Island (Perezosos) where three sloths were chillin’ in the trees. Sloths: so ugly but so cute.
The next day, our group went to Starfish Beach. It was really warm so we didn’t get to see too many starfish. But there were a few that we could pick up and hold. They were as big as my head!
Overall, it was a great trip and I am definitely coming back one day! A tip of advice: Always talk to your hostel managers if you have a problem. They are always willing to help out.
As my new friend Steph from Australia would say, “Three days, multiple beaches, many new friends and one swolen ankle. Bocas Del Toro, you have been an absolute pleasure and good for the soul.”