JUNE 11 - 15, 2006. I LOVE Panama! I didn't know what to expect, but being so close to Costa Rica (another of my favorite places), I thought it would be similar. Not only is it similar, it's so much more… It's Costa Rica 20 years ago, before the massive building of large hotels and the commercialization of the country. It's a haven for expats from all countries: England, France, Holland, Australia and, of course, Americans, to name a few.
We started from Panama City by taking the in-country airline, Aeroperlas, to David, the capital of Chiriqui Province (northwest of Panama City). From David we went overland to Boca Chica, a big game fishing area. Then we went by launch to Isla Boca Brava and the charming boutique hotel, Cala Mia. The owners are Victoria and Max. She is Italian and he is Dutch. They also live on Boca Brava and are at the hotel all the time to entertain guests and offer suggestions and help with activities. This small resort is on a tip of the island, overlooking the hundreds of island that populate this part of the Pacific. They offer a pool and a small spa hut for massages, pedicures and manicures.
The main lodge is the bar and dining room. The food was very good, especially the fresh fish, which is plentiful. Whatever is caught by guests can be prepared by the hotel chef. We sucked it up and went out the following morning for a boat tour in pouring rain. Our goal was a secluded beach on an unpopulated island to do some snorkeling. By the time we reached the right beach, it had stopped raining and we found ourselves in bathwater temperature turquoise water and saw some incredible fish around the lava rock outcroppings. We were so close to the fish it was like diving. It was hard to leave this idyllic place.
Even though this is a remote location, there is a lot to do in the area. They do get internet service at this property. Each individual cottage either faces the ocean or the swimming bay. They have one villa with two bedrooms for families. This is a perfect place for people who like to fish, snorkel and forget their life they left behind. This is also a very good dive area.