David in western Panama, the country’s third largest city, is a six hour drive (one hour flight) across this expansive isthmus just an hour from the Costa Rican border. Our one month accommodation (property listing — we paid $2,000/month) was a two bedroom condo in a snug 21-unit ex-pat community with easy access to shops and services. The closest beach is a half hour away and the popular ex-pat community of Boquete is one hour.
We arrived Panama on January 29, 2019 for a first-time, three-month visit. Beginning with a week in a great hotel in Panama City (Global Hotel Panama….see below), we also stayed a week in a condo in Playa Blanca, a month in a house in Playa Coronado, a week in a condo back in Panama City (we love it!), a month in a condo in David, a week at Playa Las Lajas, and then a final week in the mountain enclave of Boquete.
We spent a second week in central Panama City at a two bedroom condo (Airbnb property link) in the San Francisco neighborhood near the Omar Torrijos Park ($143/night). With stunning views from all rooms, there is also a nice-sized balcony with views to the Pacific Ocean and the ships traversing the nearby Canal.
Our rental house is in the private, gated, beachfront enclave of Playa Coronado ($71 per night) located just 90 minutes from Panama City on the Pacific side. It’s the first Airbnb rental we’ve had that came with a bag of cat food and a note gently imploring us to please feed the cats. Deep down we really are dog people but how could we say no?! We gave them all English names (Sabrina, Tyler, Michael, etc.). But our Panamanian buddy, Jorge, gave them Spanish names (Negrito, Corto, Rayo, etc.). They seem to answer to both when the bag of food appears.
It has two king beds, two baths, a cook’s kitchen, a pool, comfortable living areas both inside and out and just a few minutes walk to the beach with all-day breezes. Really nice spot to unwind for a month.
We spent a week at Playa Blanca in a residence condo at the Playa Blanca Beach Resort ($80 per night). Located about two hours from Panama City, Playa Blanca is a private, gated, beachfront planned-community. Great morning walking options. Our two bedroom, two bath unit with balcony and views was located on the 9th floor with beautiful pool. Good for a week’s stay. Limited services and amenities. Access to the large man-made lagoon nearby was not included in our stay.
We stayed in the capital city at Global Hotel Panama ($105 per night including VAT and breakfast). The property is five years old with just five floors of rooms in a high-rise in the downtown business district. With really beautiful touches and refined finishes we enjoyed luxury, convenience to shops, restaurants and services. A great value. Included were pool, outdoor viewing/sunning deck with jacuzzi and a great exercise gym. They have several meeting rooms too. The staff is excellent and the food in the hotel restaurant is good. We made a great, great choice!
The tail end of our Panama tour includes a week in Las Lajas and a week in Boquete.
We re-entered Costa Rica — stopping at Playa Bejuco for a week near our favorite beach — to the San Jose airport and home to Portland for the summer. NOTE: it was cheaper to re-enter Costa Rica and fly from there instead of from Panama City.