(Reposted with permission from “In De Campo”, written by Karen Ann Miles – https://indecampo.wordpress.com)
… I left you on the road back to Pedasi. Remember this journey isn’t a road map it’s a mish mash of things you might like to do while you’re visiting el distrito and beyond. If you need a real road map, a good waterproof one, contact this guy here. He’s got great maps for sale. And other relevant guides and stuff you might need. So let’s continue, shall we?
6. Horseback riding on the beach, yes, on the beach. Maybe at sunrise, or at sunset. How romantic. I WANT TO DO THIS! Check with one of the tour operators or your hostal for information;
7. Cañas Jungle Zip Line and trek. We did this…and…it…was…so…much…FUN! O.k. so my quads were screaming for a few days afterwards from the hike but it was great. There are eight stations and two repels at this zip line. Do the zip line, even if you’re afraid of heights like I am, you will not regret it. Then do the trek, beautiful. Take some water (we took our water bladders in our packs), a snack because you’ll be hungry from all the zipping and treking and fresh air and stuff, and a bathing suit so you can sit in the waterfall afterwards. Or just do the zip line or the trek. But do the trek at least once, they have a fabulous bridge that will scare the s#%t out of you if you’re afraid of heights, but do it. You can contact them at 6305-3048 via Whatsapp, make sure you give them a couple of days’ notice. Or again, book through one of the local tour offices. DO IT…that’s all I have to say;
8. Tuesday and Friday nights at Smiley’s Restaurante, live music, people who speak English, or French, or Italian or Spanish, food, cerveza. Need I say more. Go enjoy some good barbeque ribs, fish, or any of the other daily specials. Sometimes you need a little comfort food…like a burger and fries. And have a slice of the lemonade cake for dessert. Creamy deliciousness of lemon, whipped cream and Maria cookies all in frozen goodness. Or try any of the other restaurants around town as you stroll. Go to Pasta e Vino, have a cup of vino and some pasta, just don’t go Monday or Tuesday. They are closed. They have lives outside the restaurant people! Try fonda food for breakfast or lunch, Italian, Mediterranean with a twist at Bienvendush, to pizza, to higher end fusion meals or crepes. For a small town there are lots of choices for tourists;
9. Fishing. They don’t call us the Tuna Coast for nothing. Again, pre arrange at your hotel/hostal, directly at Playa Arenal with a captain or with a tour company. Most of the time you’ll just pay for the panaga (small boat) and the captain or you can definitely go higher end with a larger company if you want. But who wants comfort and luxury right? You’re in the camp now;
10. Whale watching between July and end October. REAL WHALES. Again, a boat captain at Playa Arenal will be happy to take you out for a few hours or you can book a tour through one of the agencies. And you might even see dolphins frolicking. When we went to Isla Iguana in October our boat captain threw in some extra time for whale watching for an extra $30.00 and he was determined we were going to see whales. And we did. Just have your camera ready, they may be big but they’re quick. And if you don’t want to go out on a boat just stand on the shores of Playa Arenal or Playa Toro between July and October and look to the horizon. You’ll probably see them, REAL WHALES;
And a bonus #11 and #12 and #13 and #14:
11. Achotines Tuna Laboratory. The laboratory is on Achotines Bay, where the yesterday mentioned Playita Resort is. It is the only lab in the world with year-round availability of yellowfin tuna eggs and larvae for study. It also studies local coastal species such as snappers and corvinas. The bay and the waters surrounding it give scientists access to waters where spawning of tunas happens during every month of the year. You must pre arrange to tour the facility, there’s a phone number on the gate or you can try this number: 995- 8166;
12. While you’re in Venao visit Eco Venao and treat yourself to a spa day or a least a massage after that trek you just did at the zip line (6406-2416 or 6619-3506, email: email@example.com). The resort also offers accommodations. Or just stop for lunch at Restaurante Los Sombreros. This restaurant in a previous iteration had been kind of up and down food wise but we ate there again recently, and I think, they’ve got it now as it was very good. Here’s another place that you can book horseback riding (832-0530) or take surf lessons at the surf dojo. After our recent lunch we hiked to the waterfall, it’s best to go during Wet Season while the water is running good. It’s a medium effort hike, check in at the front office before you go, wear good shoes and be ready to get them wet. In the end it was a blast, literally. There was a great group of Howler Monkeys in the trees by the entrance when we were there. Did you know Howler Monkeys are one of the ten loudest animals on earth? Well, besides a bunch of drunk men at a Panamanian fiesta;
13. Get physical! Attend a yoga class, really it’s cheap compared to North American prices. There’s one at Los Vientos Beach Club on Saturday morning at 10:00 and rumours are that classes will expand to one more during the week. Cost? As of this writing is a $5.00 donation. Frances, the teacher also conducts classes almost daily elsewhere, you can message her here. She also makes jewelry, nice jewelry, ask her about it. There are also yoga classes at Eco Venao, cheap! (Use the number above again for info.) There is also a gym that you can pay drop in fees to attend a class. Contact MyShape here;
14. Take a private Spanish class, or two, or three. Or join a group class. Or do an immersion home stay. With real Panamanians. That speak Spanish and will make you speak Spanish! Heck, do it all. Ingrid, Dania and Mitzy will be happy to help you! Contact them here: Buena Vida Language School.
I’m sure there are so many more things that you could find to do on your own and at the suggestion of all the lovely people you’ll meet along the way. These were the ones that came to the top of my head right away. I hope if you do visit, no matter what you do, you’ll have a good time enjoying the hospitality…in the campo.