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Panama, Panama, Panama
Greetings from Panama! My name is Marina Ehrman and I have been a professional tour guide and promoter for Panama Tourism and Travel Company since 2005. I love what I do and am proud to share what my country has to offer. It is filled with endless leisure and commercial attractions, friendly happy people who open their doors to all visitors. Panama is a country of incomparable natural beauty with a variety of tourist attractions, beautiful beaches in the Pacific and Caribbean. The tropical climate year round with its diversified flora, fauna and indigenous groups make it one of the most important of Ecotourism in Latin America. I invite you to know our country’s history, culture and also enjoy the cuisine, folklore and traditions that only a place in the world can provide………Panama! Contact me and I’ll organize your visit and will be happy to welcome you in Panama. For more information on Panama, follow my Facebook page and my blog.

Bocas del Toro : Hospital Point

 

Hospital Point is a close and small place with a great diversity of attractions part of Solarte's island. Tourists can scuba dive or snorkel in the reef nearby, or swim and rest in the protected small beach, know about the history of the islands with the owner of the point or walk in the forest with a local guide, looking for the tiny colorful and poisonous frogs and the tombs from the beginning of the century.
Christopher Columbus sailed in front of the island during his fourth voyage in 1502.As english-speaking bucaneers, pirates and colonists, came during the next three centuries the island became known as Nancy's Cay. In United Fruit Company medical files from 1899 to 1920, "Nances Cay", is used. The Spanish name of the island is Solarte.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the banana business prospered and people from different countries came to the islands to take advantage of this new industry.
Several banana companies operated in Bocas del Toro during the last years of the 19th century. In 1899 the giant United Fruit Company replaced all other banana interests in the region, establishing their main office in the city of Bocas del Toro. To ensure a healthy and functional work force, the company built a Medical Center on the west end of Solarte, a place that came to be known as Hospital Point.
The history of the hospital is very rich. Plants lovers find, in the western side or Hospital Point, where the main house is, a real botanic garden with species from all over the world, with emphasis in a diversity of banana plants.
Today, visitors can appreciate the remains of concrete columns and sidewalks of the complex. In the nearby forest are several tombs, some identified and others not. In the sea, snorkellers and divers can appreciate the history of Hospital Point in the form of rails, ceramic and bottles

Bocas del Toro: Red Frog Beach

About a 10 minute boat ride from Bocas town gets you to the Red Frog Marina, from where a 15 minute hike across the narrowest point of Bastimentos Island allows you to reach Red Frog Beach. With 0.75 miles of white and golden sand, Red Frog Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Bocas del Toro.
 
The north shore of Bastimentos Island hosts some of Bocas' most beautiful beaches and Red Frog is one of the more accessible ones, and the only one with a few facilities such as a couple of restaurants and bathrooms. It receives its name from the poison-dart frogs that are abundant in Bastimentos' hills. If you're lucky enough you might encounter a three-toed sloth or some monkeys as well.

Due to its ease of access many boat tours make Red Frog Beach their last stop during the day, providing you with a lively environment with travelers from all over the world (anything between 100 and 300 people). During low season, it is a lot quieter. If you happen to arrive to Red Frog and feel the need for more space to yourself you can always hike a bit to the east (Turtle Beach) or to the west in direction to Wizard Beach (Playa Primera), or simply go to another beach in Bocas del Toro with less people... there are loads of secluded beaches in Bocas



 

Boca del Toro: Zapatillas Cays

 

Located on the south-eastern border of the Bastimentos National Marine Park, the Zapatillas Cays are two stunning islands that emerge from a coral platform and are surrounded by tropical coral reef. About a 30 minute boat ride from Crawl Cay (roughly 8 kms), the Zapatillas Islands are generally considered the most beautiful islands of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago and offer visitors pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters and some of Panama's most attractive coral reefs.
Some say they receive their name from a fruit that grow in its forests, and yet others because their shape resemble a pair of running shoes ("zapatillas" in Spanish).
 
Western Zapatilla or "Zapatilla Menor", is less than half the size of its eastern counterpart, and is nesting ground for the Green Marine Turtle. Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles lay their eggs on both islands. This island is more visited by scientists than by tourists.
 
Eastern Zapatilla or "Zapatilla Mayor" is home to the ranger station (the rest of the cays are uninhabited), where a $10 Park Fee is collected from visitors . The best snorkeling and diving in Major Zapatillas can be found towards the south-eastern coast, about 300 meters from the beach in a spot known as Coral Islands. This spot is relatively shallow and has the most beautiful coral
formations with lots of tropical fish, and its crevices hide many lobsters, crabs, eels and an immense amount of tiny sea invertebrates. If you want more than a just a gorgeous reef, on the Zapatillas' north shore, you can go behind the breakers (the reefs that break the incoming waves... when there are waves). If the sea permits (mainly May, September, October), you will find a wall formed by the reef, that contains small caves and tunnels, up to 40 feet deep.
 
All of the beaches on the islands are excellent for swimming, and there is a rough 45-minute nature trail that makes its way through mangrove swamp. With some difficulty, you can complete the circuit through the center of the island and return along the beach.

 





 

Bocas del Toro : Coral Cay

 

One of the most famous snorkeling spots in Bocas de Toro, Crawl Cay is a tiny island located in the channel between Bastimentos and Popa Island (about 20 minutes by boat from Bocas town, or 10 - 15 minutes from Dolphin Bay). Crawl Cay is surrounded by lush coral gardens, the best of which begin just after the south-eastern tip of Bastimentos Island
 
The sea here is calm year-round, which make it suitable for snorkelers of all ages, and the abundance of tropical fish, coral heads and colorful sponges will keep experienced divers entertained as well. Water clarity is better than at other places but as always it depends on if it's rained during the previous days. On the typical Caribbean day with lots of sunshine and light blue skies, the waters of Crawl Cay are of luminous emerald green shades and make the perfect holiday postcard.
 
 

Bocas Del Toro: Dolphin Bay


The Archipelago of Bocas del Toro is home to a semi-permanent population of Bottlenose dolphins. Its calm waters and abundance of small fish, crustaceans and squid seem to make the perfect grounds for the young ones' first stages of life. Calves and juveniles can be frequently spotted with their mothers, as well as small pods of 5 or 6 dolphins.
 
The dolphins of Bocas del Toro seem to have a special predilection for the bay locally known as Laguna Bocatorito (Dolphin Bay), which is about 12 km south of Bocas town (about 15 - 20 minutes by boat). This bay is bordered by the east side of Cristobal Island and an odd-shaped peninsula from the mainland. A labyrinth of shallow channels formed by mangroves screens its northern entrance, helping to make it a kind of giant natural aquarium, six kilometers across at its widest.
 
 

Bocas del Toro: Starfish Beach

 

Famous for its abundance of starfish (you will literally encounter hundreds of them in this beach), Starfish Beach is a must visit destination of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago. Starfish beach is located on Colon Island, on its north-western side (opposite side of Bocas Town). Even though it can be reached by bus from Bocas Town (30 minutes), most tours that visit Bird Island (about 30 minutes from Bocas Town by boat) make a stop at this beach, either before or after lunch. It's about a 20 minute boat ride back to town from Starfish Beach.
 
Due to its location, its waters are very calm during most of the year, except during certain times in November and December when the swell comes up from the north. Its crystal clear waters and abundance of starfish make it a big favourite amongst visitors of all ages. Definitively one of the most beautiful beaches in Bocas del Toro.

 
 
 

Bocas del Toro: Bird Island

 
Swans' Cay, also known as Bird Island is birders paradise. Here you will find the only known nesting place in the Caribbean of the Red-billed Tropic Bird (Phaeton aethereus). Swans Cay is a rocky formation approximately 70 meters long, with a rounded quarter moon shape, pierced by two openings through one end, and rises 55 meters at the highest point. On the southern side, sheltered from the northeastern trade winds, there is a small sandy beach below a higher level area. Bushes and other vegetation cover the summit, and there is a small clump of coconut palms at the low end. A designated bird sanctuary, Isla Pajaros, also has brown booby (Sula leucogaster etesiaca), the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis carolinensis), the frigate (Fregata magnificens) and many types of gulls and terns.
 
 
 
 
 




Boat used for Panama Canal transit




The Isla Morada...A Ship With Much History

The Isla Morada is surrounded by a fascinating history, long before transporting tourists across the Panama Canal. It was designed as a luxury megayacht for Boston millionaires. It was Built by Lawley & Sons, the company Cox & Stevens. All in wood, was built in the shipyards of the East Coast of the United States, and began sailing in 1912 with the name Santana. It had five luxury bedrooms, a lavish dining room, a library and was home to a crew of seven sailors. Among its owners was a very special one, the most famous gangster in history, the legendary Al Capone.

In the years of World War II it was requisitioned by the United States Navy, later to be acquired by a sailor who lived in Florida, which re-christened with the name of Isla Morada. It arrived in Panama in 1960 and served as a hotel ship anchored off Piñas Bay during the construction of the Tropic Star Lodge, the world famous sport fishing resort.
With capacity for 100 people, complete sets of Signs and Lighting, Help Communication System, Navigation lights properly installed and operational, and Fire Systems First Aid Kit. The conditions of the hull, machinery and electrical installations are periodically reviewed and are appropriate for making the spacecraft trajectories.

The ship has the following life-saving appliances:
  • 6 bags with capacity for 132 lifeguards people.
  • Life jackets for 165 people.
Its dimensions are:
  • Length (L): 96.00 mts.
  • Beam (width): 19:00 mts.
  • Depth (draft): 5.00 mts.
  • Gross tonnage: 94.00 tons



The second boat we have is the Fantasia del Mar with a capacity for up to 434 people.

It was built in Booth Bay Harbor, Maine, E.U.A. by Eastern Shipbuilding Corp.

The Fantasia del Mar has the following life-saving appliances:
  • 22 bags jackets with a total capacity of 440 people
  • Life Jackets for 440 people
Its dimensions are:
  • Length (L): 35.66 mts.
  • Beam (width): 8.69 mts.
  • Depth (draft): 3.23 mts.
  • Gross Tonnage: 465.14 tons

The third and last boat  is the Tuira II with a capacity for up to 492 passengers with 2 spacious floors.

It was built in the USA by Willey Manufacturing Co.

The ship has the following life-saving appliances:
  • 26 bags with capacity for 572 Lifeguard people
  • Life Jackets for 600 people
Its dimensions are:
  • Length: 35.80 mts.
  • Beam: 10.02 meters.
  • Depth: 3.26 mts.
  • Gross Tonnage: 227.00 tons





Main Plaza of Old Panama

Tour Suggested
 

 
 
The main plaza in Old Panama occupies an important place in the history of Latin American urban planning as one of oldest such space.
The quadrangle of Old Panama´s main plaza is small and slightly trapezoidal in shape. Records indicate that in 1671 it measured approximately 69 x 57 meters, a very modest size in comparison to the huge plaza subsequently laid out in Mexico and the Andean region. The archaeological excavation conducted a decade ago suggest the the original plaza was even smaller as the block on the north side, corresponding to the so-called Terrin houses, was reduced in size in the early 17th century  , thus providing 500 m2 of additional open space .
The plaza is presided over by the cathedral tower, located more or less at the center of the east side. Right of the cathedral stad the ruins of the old cabildo or council, a small building that had a two stored arade. the terrin house also had an arcade .  On the west side was a row of wooden house,  while the south side, where the prision is thought to have been located, is buried  beneath a modern building