Taboga Island, near Panama City
View Entry's Photo Album (Island)
View Entry's Photo Album (Free zone)
After we scheduled our flight out, we had one more day in the City. We decided to catch a water taxi out to the island of Taboga , just 20km off the coast of Panama City . It's where a lot of people from the city go to vacation or take day trips.
Got out there, and were immediately glad it was just a day trip.
There's some snorkeling. I saw some bonefish, small yellow tail snapper, various parrot fish, small reef fish. The only real highlight was a giant puffer that measured about 1.5 feet. He never puffed, but I chased him around for a while trying to antagonize him. That was pretty cool – they're such a strange shape. The head is enormous, there's a black streak that runs from the eye socket straight down, and their rear dorsal and bottom fins sweep in a hypnotic back and forth motion opposite to the tail's left to right swooshing. The head reminds me of a pit bull - very large and angular. The rear of the fish is slight and thin comparatively. Of course when they puff it's a different fish all together!
There's a hotel there where they serve over-priced food, and moderately priced beers. They want you to pay for the privilege of using their beach, but we've been warned that they don't have the right to do so. There's a public entrance just before the hotel you can use.
We went in the hotel anyway, via the beach entrance, and ate there, and were never bothered about not having the wristband. Who knows. The whole trip we've noticed that if you're white and act like you know what you're doing, hardly anyone will question you. That’s not a license to be an ass, but it is a get out of jail free card, sometimes.
We also climbed up to the mirador, which though long and hard, was worth it. It’s a great view of the country, the island, etc. And there’s a US military installation up there, I think for radar.
Free Zone Shopping and Colon
The area around the Free Zone is largely a dangerous slum. There's a bus from the terminal in Panama City that takes you almost to the Zone, and then you can either walk a few blocks or take a cab for about a buck.
If you're into knock-offs, jewelry, watches, or cameras, this is the place for you. I honestly didn't see the attraction and would have rather done just about anything else.