Author Topic: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!  (Read 36113 times)

Offline Denverite

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2015
  • Posts: 1938
  • Total likes: 155
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: Denver
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #135 on: July 06, 2018, 12:33:33 AM »
I don't think humid and hot even begin to describe it....

Iím here now and although itís humid itís way cooler and more pleasant than most of the East Coast as it doesnít top 85 degrees!  Also because itís rainy season and cloudier I actually think itís cooler than my last trip in Februrary.


Offline Denverite

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2015
  • Posts: 1938
  • Total likes: 155
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: Denver
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #136 on: July 06, 2018, 12:42:02 AM »
On another note, we went to Islas Las Perlas (they have a ferry from Panama City) and it was truly spectacular and I enjoyed it way more than San Blas. Iím excited to post pictures and a write up when Iím back on a computer as I think so many families will enjoy it and I donít think itís been written about on DDF.  The scenery is amazing, you can easily get a boat to take you to your own private beach on an uninhabited island and the archipelago is where humpback whales mate and give birth so we got to get close to and watch them too!

Also, Iíll try to give details about restaurants near Sortis (and other ones too that havenít been mentioned) for all the people coming soon!  :)

Offline brotha123

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Mar 2011
  • Posts: 314
  • Total likes: 0
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: jersey
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #137 on: July 22, 2018, 05:20:00 PM »
On another note, we went to Islas Las Perlas (they have a ferry from Panama City) and it was truly spectacular and I enjoyed it way more than San Blas. Iím excited to post pictures and a write up when Iím back on a computer as I think so many families will enjoy it and I donít think itís been written about on DDF.  The scenery is amazing, you can easily get a boat to take you to your own private beach on an uninhabited island and the archipelago is where humpback whales mate and give birth so we got to get close to and watch them too!

Also, Iíll try to give details about restaurants near Sortis (and other ones too that havenít been mentioned) for all the people coming soon!  :)
Coming this week with 3 friends! Waiting for the new TR:)

Offline Denverite

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2015
  • Posts: 1938
  • Total likes: 155
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: Denver
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #138 on: July 30, 2018, 07:43:00 PM »
Coming this week with 3 friends! Waiting for the new TR:)

So slammed with work, I'm gonna try to at least upload pictures.  I saw in another thread you got an upgrade at the Sortis for a 1BR...isn't it the best points redemption deal ever?!  I just love the place.  I hope you went to all the restaurants nearby.

Offline brotha123

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Mar 2011
  • Posts: 314
  • Total likes: 0
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: jersey
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #139 on: July 30, 2018, 11:25:31 PM »
So slammed with work, I'm gonna try to at least upload pictures.  I saw in another thread you got an upgrade at the Sortis for a 1BR...isn't it the best points redemption deal ever?!  I just love the place.  I hope you went to all the restaurants nearby.
Sortis is great.. payed a friend $85 for 15k points.. Kava sushi was unreal and I loved Aria as well... just leaving there now actually! Moma was also very solid. Got a solid steak with side dish for only $18..

Offline Denverite

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2015
  • Posts: 1938
  • Total likes: 155
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: Denver
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #140 on: August 01, 2018, 10:02:20 PM »
Sortis is great.. payed a friend $85 for 15k points.. Kava sushi was unreal and I loved Aria as well... just leaving there now actually! Moma was also very solid. Got a solid steak with side dish for only $18..

Those three were my exact favorites as well!!

Offline luv2trvlwithfam

  • Dansdeals Silver Elite
  • **
  • Join Date: Aug 2018
  • Posts: 86
  • Total likes: 0
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: israel
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #141 on: August 23, 2018, 05:40:47 AM »
fantastic!!!!!
how long did it take you to plan this trip?
how far in advance did you make your reservations?
thanks for the TR

Offline Denverite

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2015
  • Posts: 1938
  • Total likes: 155
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: Denver
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #142 on: August 23, 2018, 07:31:43 AM »
Islas Las Perlas:

I'm not going to do a play by play of my two weeks in Panama this summer like with my first trip because I think I've given a ton of hotel and other planning info already but I did want to highlight some of the best places that we visited this time.  One of the very best places at the very top of that hit list are the Las Perlas Islands.  I hadn't heard about it at all on DDF or in the day trip offerings from any guides.  A friend of mine from Denver, that I helped to plan a trip to Panama, found out about them from a local in shul while he was there.  The Panama city tour companies don't promote these islands like San Blas or other places because they can't take you in their own boats, you need to take an expensive ferry with a per person fee (totally worthwhile, and I'll tell you how that price can be reduced) and from my perspective, haven't figured out a way to monetize the tours properly because of the transportation costs.

You can either hire a boat yourself once you get to Las Perlas (you must speak Spanish though) or do what I did and use a tour company based out of Las Perlas, on the main island of Contadora.  Our tour company then was also able to get us discounted ferry tickets that depending on your number of adults can go a long way toward reducing the cost of the tour.  We only went for the day but now that I have visited these gems, I would love come back and probably spend two nights there.  Unlike San Blas they have full electricity, nice accommodations and were way LESS crowded.  These islands are off all city tour guides radar and I unequivocally recommend spending a day here!

We used Pearl Island Day tours once we got off the ferry on Contadora island.  The cost was $250 for a half day private tour (which is the perfect amount of time for after you arrive and to catch the ferry home in the afternoon).  It was a solid deal for our family but they will accommodate up to 8 people for this price so if you have a larger group it is a smokin' deal for what you get.  I have nothing but the highest praise for Ilene (her husband also leads tours but he was back in the US while we were there) and her help with booking reduced ferry tickets and giving us a magical day that was by far my boys highlight of the whole trip!

Here is info they provide on how to get to Las Perlas:

https://pearlislandsdaytours.com/getting-there-2/




We followed Ilene's recommendation and used http://www.sealasperlas.com/en and instead of the $90 per person ticket price Ilene got it for us for $75 and then the kids were the normal $70. It leaves from Amador Causeway (the other ferry is more convenient and leaves from right near Trump hotel but it was a lot more expensive).




Please do bear in mind if you've got very little ones or any mobility issues that it is a "wet landing" when you get to Contadora as there is no dock.  So they help you you to get on a little boat from the big ferry and then from that little boat you gotta get off onto the beach and you might get knocked around in the surf.  My youngest child couldn't really do it so we just handed her into the little boat and then the guys again handed her to me after I got out into the surf and I carried her to the beach.

Ilene met us on the main beach in Contadora Island which is just beautiful.  These are the little boats that bring you ashore (and are the same boatmen that will take you back out on your adventures):





We met Ilene, got life jackets on and other stuff and then headed back out for the main reason that I booked this day (little did I know my kids would have as much fun with other parts)...all summer long they've got tons of whales in Las Perlas!

We headed out with Ilene and our boatman Jaime (yup pronouned like Chai-may): :)





Literally within about fifteen minutes, we started seeing whales!  I didn't get any killer NatGeo shots of their tails and jumping and such but it was so cool.  Because you are so close and in such a small boat I started to get a little nervous but my kids were in heaven and Ilene assured me that these boatman do this all day, every day (they are locals from the neighboring Island of Taboga) and have never had an issue, as they know right where to go and the whales are not at all aggressive.  Here are a couple shots showing their fins:









This little trip was also good for me and my family as I realized that I never want to do a safari.  We had a great time seeing the whales but we are kinda ADD and need to DO stuff, not just watch animals for hours, so after about half an hour all of us were like "this has been so amazing, we've seen enough whales now, what's next?"  :P  SOOO, Ilene took us to our own private island for family swimming and snorkeling! 

The water and islands are all SO beautiful...I thought the scenery, privacy and experience blew San Blas into the dust.  Here are some pics of heading to our beach.  The color of the water rivaled the Maldives:










Again, no docks (since it's totally undeveloped) and you gotta get out into the surf.  This pictures shows where the boat comes and stays:



Enjoying our own private beach!




After playing a bit, Ilene offered to take the boys to her favorite snorkeling spot, so I stayed on the beach with my little one and they headed over in the boat to a little protected reef.  She is such a pro that she took underwater pictures and GoPro videos of them with the fish and emailed them to me in the evening.  Obviously my sons thought that this was the coolest thing ever.  This pic shows where they were as you can see the boat waiting right next to the reef a little off the shoreline:




I hope you enjoyed this little installment and I'm planning to continue in the next one with some more awesome adventures from our day in Las Perlas!
« Last Edit: August 23, 2018, 09:31:43 AM by Denverite »

Offline Yehoshua

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Aug 2011
  • Posts: 9479
  • Total likes: 90
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #143 on: August 23, 2018, 09:25:23 AM »
Wow, so cool! I can't wait until my girls are older so we can go to Panama. This is exactly the type of place we love to visit, just not with kids as young as ours. Thank you for sharing.

Offline zow

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2014
  • Posts: 2804
  • Total likes: 105
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 11
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: BOS
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #144 on: August 23, 2018, 07:58:59 PM »
@denverite, great installment! Canít wait to go in February.  All your recommendations will be so useful.  Thank you.

Offline ludmila

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Aug 2012
  • Posts: 5164
  • Total likes: 267
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: IND
  • Programs: Hilton Diamond,Marriott Platinum,SPG Platinum.
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #145 on: August 24, 2018, 01:39:52 AM »
Very well written, enjoyed reading. :)
I was the Best,still the Best, and will always be the Best.
Pele Good,Maradona Better, George Best.

Offline Denverite

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2015
  • Posts: 1938
  • Total likes: 155
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: Denver
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #146 on: August 26, 2018, 05:18:22 PM »
Wow, so cool! I can't wait until my girls are older so we can go to Panama. This is exactly the type of place we love to visit, just not with kids as young as ours. Thank you for sharing.

Thanks!  We really did have a blast.  I saw from the pics in your latest TR that you really do have teen ones so yeah this day would have been hard for them.  If anyone is wondering though about ages I think probably even a 3yr old that can follow directions would have had a blast on this day!  Again just have to know that you are going to have to work a little to get any small kids out of these boats and onto the islands as you are basically just jumping into the surf and trying not to get knocked down by waves (so little ones are going to get carried in your arms to shore).

Offline Denverite

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2015
  • Posts: 1938
  • Total likes: 155
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: Denver
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #147 on: August 26, 2018, 05:21:47 PM »
@Denverite, great installment! Canít wait to go in February.  All your recommendations will be so useful.  Thank you.

Very well written, enjoyed reading. :)

Thanks, it means to lot to me and I'm happy to help.  Next installment is coming up soon and @zow doing Las Perlas would probably be a blast for your older kids and cheaper than San Blas.  You all could possibly do some hikes and other stuff once you got of the ferry, without even taking a private boat tour.  There was lots of other stuff to do on all the islands but I am limited because of the ages of my kids.  I'll try to give all that info too for you.  :)

Offline zow

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2014
  • Posts: 2804
  • Total likes: 105
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 11
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: BOS
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #148 on: August 26, 2018, 07:22:32 PM »
Thanks, it means to lot to me and I'm happy to help.  Next installment is coming up soon and @zow doing Las Perlas would probably be a blast for your older kids and cheaper than San Blas.  You all could possibly do some hikes and other stuff once you got of the ferry, without even taking a private boat tour.  There was lots of other stuff to do on all the islands but I am limited because of the ages of my kids.  I'll try to give all that info too for you.  :)
@denverite, sounds absolutely terrific! We will have a week so could conceivably do both, but will will start with Las Perlas. Iím sure we will be in touch as February approaches.   

Offline Sammie

  • DansDeals Copper Elite
  • *
  • Join Date: Jan 2013
  • Posts: 16
  • Total likes: 0
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: Panama TR- a Hidden Family Gem (w/AWESOME restaurants)!
« Reply #149 on: November 19, 2018, 05:53:53 PM »
@Denvertite - WOW! Thank you for all the descriptive information. Planning our trip now mostly based on your suggestions!

Thank you!