Panama Tours including the Canal & Monkey Island, Dining at Bistro Central- December 2022
I started my first day in Panama City with Barefoot Panama Tours, run by Kevin OBrien from Boston. He’s very hospitable, professional & knowledgeable. We took a tour of the old city, drove by the ruins, and then ended up at the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal is a phenomenon and very interesting to see when a boat pulls through so I suggest you check the schedule.
Otherwise you will be there but not see the magic of it. Kevin was very thorough with his stories and history of Panama City & the country as he has been there a long time which made the tour even better. We ended up in downtown where there were a bunch of stores, shops and restaurants to check out before dark and dinner at the Central Hotel. His tour company operates a variety of different tours and you can see more at https://barefootpanama.com/
Enjoyed Dinner at Bistro Central at the Central Hotel in the heart of downtown with Kevin. We started with the appetizers of clams in a tasty sauce, grilled octopus, ahi tuna & burrata cheese salad. All were delicious. The highlight of the main course was the fruit de le mar with spaghetti & a variety of shellfish in a garlic butter sauce. That was very tasty. They also had a variety of steak and other seafood options. The atmosphere & decor were very upscale and they had a nice live guitar player singing with music during the evening. The hotel is located in the central part of the old town in Panama City & it was very safe and easy to walk around and get to. Enjoy one of their specialty cocktails or martinis to enhance your meal.
With a proposal with a mystical, wild and indigenous touch, Bistro Central opens its doors in a fascinating space that takes over the new Panamanian cuisine. The experience goes back to the origins of the Guna and Cucuá cultures, including elements that set the scene and accompany the gastronomic evenings with exotic dishes, as protagonists that impact the palates and captivate sensations. Explore the best of Panama, venture to discover flavors with exotic meats such as Crocodile and Rabbit using locally grown ingredients in 9 entrees, 13 main courses and a bimonthly seasonal menu; It is the main objective in the cuisine of Bistro Central. Saril’s banana in temptation is the star dessert that adorns the closing of each evening, fusing flavors of culture and tradition. With a maximum capacity of 80 people in a room, 2 private rooms and an extraordinary team that accompanies the chef, Bistro Central, offers to enhance Panamanian gastronomic treasures.
More at https://www.centralhotelpanama.com/food-drinks
I went on a great Monkey Island Boat Tour with (Almiza Tours aka My Friend Mario- pictured below in the blue shirt). I saw a bunch of tours online with some great reviews so I contacted Mario to get on his tour. He picks you up from your hotel, or where you’re staying along with other guests, and then heads out to the dock where you transport on the smaller boats, on the way there, which is about 45 minutes. He’ll tell you some stories about the monkeys and where you’re going. It’s safe and you can dress casual as you’ll be in the boat the whole time going to different little islands with three different types of monkeys on each of the islands.
The howler monkey is all dark, and makes a loud noise like a gorilla to protect itself from others , but they don’t come close to the boat. The tamarind is a small little monkey that will come close to the boat. If you bring out some food, the white face monkey will climb into the boat and on top of you to eat what you give them as they are friendly and really only there to get some food.
The whole tour is about 4 hours and well worth it. They have morning and afternoon tours and you can check out more on this website. http://mfm.somee.com/index.htm
I also recommend a day visit to Toboga Island. You can catch the Taboga Island ferry from Panama City and enjoy a great day of hiking, swimming and food. I had lunch at Casa Toboga casual restaurant not far from where the ferry drops you.
It is on the way to one of the few hiking trails. If inclined and want a more adventurous hike, head all the way to the top as it will take close between 2-3 hrs total depending how fast you go and how long you stay up there but incredible views. Stop by to eat at Casa to enjoy some tasty fish and shrimp tacos before jumping in the warm ocean water. All around fantastic day and definitely worth the visit.