Las Lajas

Las Lajas — Spanish for ‘the slabs’ — is a narrow strip of pacific coastal land with ocean in front and mangroves behind. It’s located in western Panama 90 minutes from the town of David. Beyond the vibrant coastal environs, there’s not much there — a smattering of houses, just a couple small to mid-rise condos and our hotel the terrific Show Pony Resort.

Consequently, the Las Lajas beach is expansive and mostly empty. The land is just as beautiful as the water elements. No paved roads to get there but you easily drive on a rocky lane about 10 minutes while sightseeing through stunning verdant countryside. Expect to weep at the splendor of the sunsets. We did.

Dining suggestions: the restaurant at Show Pony is wonderful and Simon the chef is accomplished. We also recommend to take a 15-20 minute drive back toward the highway to the divine Cucina Naturalmente restaurant (not referring to the respectable Naturalmente Pizza nearby). A Swiss and Italian couple operate a gem with a limited but elevated menu. Just go!



Little did we know we saved the best for last! It was the final destination of our “Good Life” tour when we stayed a week in glistening Boquete at 3,900 ft. (1,200 m). While only two hours drive from Las Lajas, and just a half hour from David, Boquete is a cool respite from the typical tropical climate. A new discovery for us, Boquete is a blend of the Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous culture, the friendly, hard-working Panamanians and a significant population of generally well-heeled North American, and other, expats.

It’s coffee country. We discovered Circuito del Cafe, a new tourist bureau marketing effort to attract more interest in Panama’s renown coffee products. So we toured some the coffee circuit visiting quaint coffee farms and sipping their wares. We visited Cafe Ruiz, Princesa Janka, Elida Coffee Estate and Janson Coffee in Volcan in the adjacent valley. Think bucolic outings to wine vineyards and tea plantations. A lot of caffinated fun!

We stayed in Valle Escondido Resort (go to our Panama page for more about our accommodations) an exceedingly well-done development where anything and everything grows. While too cool for some expats we found to be about perfect. We avoided the windy season and skirted the rains. We’d do it again — only for longer!


Panama City

Consider a blend of bits of Miami, New Orleans and New York — sexy, saucy and urbane. For us, that’s Panama City. Seems that many travelers understandably looking only for sun, sand or mountain adventure skip the cities. We never do. Instead we go shopping and look for great restaurants! After New York and Chicago, Panama City has the greatest number of skyscrapers in the Western Hemisphere per capita. Stunning skyline and a cultural crossroads vibe.

TIPS: Stay at the Global Hotel, a 3+ star centrally-located hotel in the Obarrio (business) district. Walk the loop at Parque Omar. do a half-day (that’s enough) Canal cruise, shop at Multiplaza or Albrook Mall. Uber everywhere. You’ll be ready to get your beach on (Coronado, Blanca, Las Lajas) soon enough!