We’d just pulled up to our hotel in Panama City, Panama when the bellman rushed over to grab our bags and greet us. He gave us a big hearty welcome to the Hard Rock Hotel and for some reason he and my husband hit it off. As I checked us into our room, I overheard them talking and heard my hubby say, “my wife..,” it was the first time I’d heard him say it to anyone else but me since the wedding. I smiled and felt all fuzzy inside.
He was my husband. I was his wife. We were on our honeymoon.
After six straight months of planning our wedding, we immediately knew that we wanted a stress-free, travel easy honeymoon and with the help of my Going Places Travel advisor we were able to wade through the many possible destinations and locations, finally deciding that Panama was the spot.
So, why Panama? My Top 3 Reasons
- 3-hour direct flight from Nassau, Bahamas
- No visa required for entry
- The USD is their main currency
With a little research and digging, we quickly found out that Panama offers the perfect getaway for newly weds; it’s a great combination of island vibes and city fun, has lots of adventurous tours and trips, the food is AMAZING, there are so many options for romantic things to do and great weather! If you’ve followed my other travel adventures, then you’d know that we love to squeeze in two locations on one trip, so we booked tickets into nearby Costa Rica for more South American fun.
Here are a few pics, a short guide and some highlights for anyone heading into Panama or Costa Rica.
Panama City, Panama
Where we stayed: Hard Rock Panama Megapolis. We’re usually attracted to smaller, boutique hotels, but opted for this mega resort instead. It’s perfectly situated right in the heart of the city, making it easy to commute to and from. Honestly, that’s about all that’s good about the hotel. I , of course, expected the rock and roll theme throughout the resort and that was fun (hooray!) but the accommodations were less than stellar and the hotel is in need of a major upgrade. There’s just not anything that makes you want to go back. It’s a good thing we were on a mission to find some fun, because we hardly found ourselves in the hotel room as we hit the town just about everyday for food, festivities and frolicking.
This is a must do when in Panama City. Casco Viejo is known as the old city and is a small community adorned by colorful buildings, souvenir shops, restaurants, bars, ice cream shops, churches and clothing stores. We literally spent most of our time here as there was so much to do, see and eat. The charming, quiet area really lends to tropical romance and gettin’ boo’d up in them Panamanian streets…Casco Viejo is just peaceful and romantic!
The Food, the food, THE FOOD!
If you were watching my Instastories then you’d know that we ate our way around Panama! From the bustling fish market, to amazing little restaurants nestled in cul de sacs; I can truly say that we had some of the best foods we’ve ever eaten in our life. Ceviche at the Mercado de Mariscos, delicious brunches at the American Trade Hotel and breakfast at Super Gourmet. Panamanians take pride in their plates and only serve up the best and most scrumptious.
The San Blas Islands
At some point you just have to stop taking photos. There’s absolutely no way anyone can capture the true beauty of The San Blas Islands with a camera. It’s a vision that must be seen in person, but be experienced up close and personal and…savoured. Being from The Bahamas I was a little salty, pun intended. It took some real pride and ego to admit, but beaches of these islands rival the ones we have at home. The blues and greens are otherworldly, the sands are soft and lush, the palm and coconut trees looked like they were dancing to junkanoo music and the sandbanks were incredible. We boated from island to island and became more enamoured at each stop. Photos do this place no justice, so here’s a video instead!
Ditch the cabs and use Uber! This was our only means of transportation the entire trip. We saved so much money on getting around and waited no more than five minutes for our drivers to meet us at our requested locations. Cab drivers swarm the airports and main thoroughfares and hustle you for your business, but a kind lady in the airport told us Uber was the way to go in Panama and she was absolutely right! What would have been a $35 cab ride from the airport to our hotel ended up being $10 with our Uber driver. Unlike cab rides where you get your bill at the end of the trip, as many of you would know, with Uber, your bill is tallied before the ride and prepaid using your credit card. A win! Sorry cab drivers!
San Juan, Costa Rica
Where we stayed: Hotel Grano de Oro. Ahhhhh yes, boutique like we’re used to! On our hop over to San Juan, we booked a few days into this 40-room hotel that was just so peaceful, green (nature-wise) and low-key. It was a drastic, and much needed, departure from the resort style stay we were having previously. The hotel staff was more than accommodating, the vibes were right, it was in a great location and right on property was one of Costa Rica’s top rated restaurants. The windows of our room literally opened up to a garden. Room service was amazing, the food was great and I’d definitely go back.
Azotea Calle 7
Again, we had some of the best foods we’ve ever eaten in our lives! And for us, this spot goes down in the history books! Azotea Calle 7 is a tapas style spot serving up small plates and light bites that are loaded with flavor. We ordered red wine braised ox tail, watermelon and coconut milk ceviche, red Thai curry meatballs and cocktails. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to cry when I bit into these dishes. Pows of flavor greeted us with each bite. We were so blown away by how succulent these dishes were, we ordered them twice…all of them!
Markets and souks and plazas, oh my!! I love visiting the markets when I travel. They burst with so much culture and color and…cups! They’re usually the best place to find authentic souvenirs and items to take back home, and the Central Mercado did not disappoint. Fruit and flower stalls lined the walk ways and the smell of food wafted throughout the plaza. The restaurants here are called “sodas.” We pulled up chairs at a soda and ordered what we thought was going to be a simple fixing of beans and rice and steak. Little did we know, the cook would put his foot in that pot and serve us up the best little plate ever! That food was the bomb.com. We picked up some crafts here and there and soaked in some culture.
Doka Coffee Estate and La Paz Waterfall Tour
A full day of touring, hiking up mountains and taking in some of the best views. We started with a tour and lesson of the famed Doka Coffee Estate. Did you know that a coffee bean is first a flower? We got to the bean in its beginning stages and go walk through the coffee making process. Then it was time to hike! it took us almost an hour to get to the top but when we did…sheer beauty! Waterfalls crashed into rocks at every turn, butterflies kissed your cheeks and nature just loved on us!
Walking food tour with Adriana!
After our insane trek up to see the waterfalls, we just needed something more calming and a little delicious to do the next day! I hopped on Google and was looking up more tours to book and came across the Foodie Tours Costa Rica website! I quickly browsed and booked an appointment. Our tour guide Adriana even picked us up from our hotel to head to the spot where we’d start the tour. Adriana is so good at what she does; she literally hand picks the restaurants for all of her tours and gave so much knowledge and information about Costa Rica as we walked from restaurant to restaurant. She’s developed amazing relationships with the business owners that we were literally treated like royalty when we arrived! We ate so much good food and had some amazing drinks!
Uber worked like a dream here too! Sorry cab drivers!