January 29, 2018

The Guide to Everything We Did in Panama & Costa Rica

You may have noticed I was pretty quite over on Instagram last week - well, we were in Panama & Costa Rica for a whole week! Last year Auston and my dad's insurance agency worked hard and did so good that they earned a two trips to Central America.  I don't like posting about it while we're gone, but we got back on Saturday and this week is going to be full of posting all the fun pictures (1,051 pictures to be exact) we took. Here's a quick guide to everywhere we stayed, everywhere we ate, and everything we did. Granted, for most people you'll be paying for all the lodging and extra curricular activities, so this is definitely not a budget-friendly recommendation guide.





Where We Stayed

Trump Hotel - Punta Pacifica, Panama

We were really excited when we heard the hotel we were going to be staying at was the Trump Hotel because when you think of Panama skyline, you think of that weird sail shaped high rise. That's the Trump Hotel.


Our room was luxurious and tranquil, with a rain shower and a free standing tub right in the room. At first I thought I wouldn't like the bathroom and bed being in the same area but I actually really enjoyed the open-ness.


Our view was incredible, looking out over the Pacific Ocean and seeing some of the skyline.



Los Suenos Mariott Resort - Herradura, Costa Rica

Holy moly this place. This is really my first big trip as an adult (and our first international trip married!) but this resort just blew me away. Maybe it was because of the stunning views, or the giant pool with a swim up bar, or the great temperatures, or maybe it was just the fact that I could do whatever I wanted at whatever paced we wanted to do it. This was a resort, not just a hotel, meaning it had 6 or so restaurants in our place and about 6 others one resort over at the marina. When we didn't have scheduled dinners (with our company colleagues) we at an upscale Creole place, a very relaxing veranda on the golf green, and the resort bar & chill restaurant where I had the best meal while we were there - cheese and bacon covered waffle fries. mind. blowing.

11/10 would recommend this place.


This pool was incredible (I know I'm using that word a lot this post) because it was huge but wrapped around the entire area so it felt small and not like you were swimming with a ton of strangers. There was also artificial waterfalls and nightly pool movies - yep, like sitting in the pool with your drink in hand and watching a movie.




The architecture and decor was stunning, one of my favorite features was the concave brick ceilings in the main lobby that was just so unique but still incorporated the Central America architecture.





Our room was one of the ones with a full balcony that overlooked the bay and pool. Literally couldn't get any better.




What We Did

Mira Flores Locks - Panama Canal

Possible one of my favorite trips because I GOT TO SEE THE LOCKS. Not only did we see the locks but we got to see two big boats go through the small locks and one huge one that went through the new big locks. One tid-bit about me, I love history. Our tour guide was so well versed in the history of Panama, the Canal, and architecture that he literally (I literally mean literally, literally #HIMYM) could have been a college professor. I am now adding The Path Between the Seas to my reading list this year.





Cocktail Cruise - Panama

Couldn't find a link to this one, but when we were in Panama we went on a cocktail cruise on the Pacific where we could see the sun set across the skyline. It was pretty awesome to just sit there and enjoy everyone's company while watching the sunset over the locks.



Canal & Rainforest Boat Tour - Gamboa, Panama Canal

The next day we took a boat tour on the canal. We got to drive all over Gatun lake and see all the islands. Little did I know, a huge chunk of the canal is lined with actual rainforest and like a lot of large rivers/lakes  it has small islands off the coasts.


On those little islands, CAPUCHIN MONKEYS. Yep, we got to see Capuchins, Howlers, and the tiniest Tamarins.



Colonial Panama City - Panama

Panama City is very old. It founded in 1590 and was attacked by Henry Morgan (the pirate) in 1671 and completely destroyed the city. Panamanians realized the location was too vunerable and moved it to it's now resting place. They are now remodeling the second location to look like the traditional Caribbean building with colorful walls and rod iron balconies. It was very beautiful but was also very different than the usual rural Central American way of life.



So many cool ruins they are trying to preserve.



Crocodile River Tour - Tarcoles River, Costa Rica

Next up in Costa Rica, on our first day we went on a Crocodile River Tour. We saw Toucans, Crocodiles, and so many cool (and rare) birds.




Also, a giant tree covered in pelicans. Pretty unnerving actually. I don't like pelicans.


Even though we were busy looking at all the cool animals and listening to our tour guide (who seemed like a biology professor), this was actually the most relaxing and enjoyable tours. 



Rainforest Zip Line - Los Suenos, Costa Rica

My favorite tour - zip lining through and above the rainforest. Surprisingly this was my first commercial zip lining experience, but it exceeded all my expectations. It was so good in fact, we spend the extra money on our pictures.



Yep, we went upside down for a quarter of a mile at 40 mph. It was pretty sick and now I'm addicted.





He is literally the cutest.


#datbutt.



Rainforest ATV - Los Suenos, Costa Rica

We went back to the same place the next day and did their ATV tour. I can not recommend this company enough, it was some the best two hours we spent. And no, we didn't get the company photos because we were focused on going fast and getting dirty so we did not look happy haha. We trekked up to the top of the mountain and then stopped by a waterfall where they guys jumped into the pool. Needless to say we didn't bring the camera because we literally were driving up rivers and through mud holes.



At the end, we saw some beautiful Macaws snacking on the almond trees. Such beautiful animals, that apparently mate for life. Every time we saw one it was with another one, so sweet.



Villa Caletas - Costa Rica

On the company farewell dinner, they took up to the top of the big mountain where a family had build 3 castles, one of which you can stay in. It was the most beautiful view we saw while we were there, so hard to capture in a photo.



It was the big shin-dig so they had fire twirlers that I'm pretty sure were supernatural.


P.s. they do weddings too... definitely an incredible destination wedding location.


You guys, I have a bazillion pictures and I didn't share them all here and won't share them all on Insta, so here's my Flickr where you can see every beautiful detail.

We had a great time relaxing and enjoying another part of the world, but every time I go somewhere outside the US, I am so thankful for our country. Despite where we're headed culturally and generationally, we have it so good here. Be thankful for lines on the road and air conditioning and even Dollar Generals in the scarce parts of your county.

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