Panama City and Las Perlas
After we crossed the Panama Canal we stayed a few days in the anchorage “Las Brisas” in front of Panama City. This is a bay that offers a great view of Panama City. There are a lot of sailors and you can easily get to the city by bus for shopping or to enjoy the amenities of a big city. Just around the bay is Amador and the island of Flamenco. These are nice districts and popular recreation areas for the Panamanian people. There are many restaurants, playgrounds, skate and bicycle rentals, a go-kart track and much more. For sailors, who miss European products, perhaps the shop “Felipe Motta Wine Store & Deli” is worth mentioning, because it offers not only good wine, but also cheese and ham and some other delicacies. The shop is located not far from the entrance of the Flamenco Marina. At the other end of the promenade “Amador” there is a nice craft beer brewery “La Fabrica”. It is about 30 minutes’ walk from the dingy dock or 4 stops by bus. The use of public transport in Panama City is very cheap and the service is good. A “normal” bus ride costs 25 cents and the Metro costs 35 cents.
By bus you can also reach the huge farmers’ market. It is (at least) an hour’s drive, which you will have to take into account, but it is a good place to get fresh fruit and vegetables at a reasonable price. We have done some good shopping at the market.
Not far from Panama City is the island Taboga. The island is also a popular recreation area for the Panamanians and especially on weekends it is very busy. But during the week we found it very quiet and relaxing. There is not so much to do on the island, but you can go for a little hike and we were rewarded with a great view over the Pacific Ocean and to Panama City.
Las Perlas – the pearl islands
Quite a lot of time we spent on “Las Perlas”, the pearl islands. There are several rather small islands. Some of them are inhabited and developed for tourism. Where “developed” is relative. On Contadora, probably the most “touristic” of the islands, there are currently 50 beds for guests. There is still a holiday resort with 300 beds, but it has been closed for some years and it will probably take some time until it reopens.
On other islands there are small settlements or they are completely uninhabited. We were often alone (or only with few other yachts) in an anchorage and could enjoy the nature. In the meantime, we met so many sailors that we met again and again (often unexpectedly) friends. The rather rich, sometimes a bit rough nature is probably the most remarkable thing on the pearl islands, but there are also some quite nice sandy beaches.