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Wednesday, September 03 2014 @ 12:35 AM EDT

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Avalon Water Park in Panama City - YouTube Video, Directions, Description

Travel & Tourism By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Yesterday afternoon my wife and I took our daughter Sarah to the Avalon Water Park in the Las Cumbres neighborhood of Panama City. If you click on this link you should download a Google Earth ".kmz" file that should "fly" you right to the front door of the waterpark. The Avalon Water Park in Panama City is getting a little old and it's slightly worn around the edges somewhat, but it's still a nice place to spend the day and beat the heat. My daughter has been taking swimming lessons at the Clayton pool and is turning into a regular little "water bug" - she loves anything that has to do with water, pools, the beach, swimming, or what have you. We got there at about 1:00 pm and had about two hours of relatively nice weather before a standard rainy season downpour finished our afternoon and sent us running for the car. The park only costs $7.00 per person - for kids older than three and adults. There is a discount for retirees, and kids three years old and under are free. They sell some food there, like hotdogs, chicken patty "hamburgers", and chicken nuggets - kid food - and sodas. And since I'm still developing my video filming and editing techniques, my daughter Sarah becomes the "star" of yet another YouTube video of things to do in and around Panama City. Check it out...

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Cerro Ancon and Isla Cuelbra (Roadtrip Video)

Travel & TourismBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - About a week ago I took my daughter Sarah to visit Cerro Ancon and the Smithsonian Marine Activities Center on Isla Culebra, on the Amador Causeway. I've recently purchased a new video camera so I took advantage of our trip to record some of the stuff we saw. Please excuse the watermark on the video - I'm still deciding on the computer platform and software suite I'm going to be using to produce the videos, so this is more of a test than anything else. Anyway, both Cerro Ancon and Isla Culebra are cool destinations for a quick road trip, and we stopped to grab a soda and cool off when we were done. I hope you enjoy...

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Cruise the Panama Canal - Canal and Bay Tours

Travel & TourismCruise the Panama Canal in true style with Canal and Bay Tours. Long established as one of the premier tour companies, Canal and Bay Tours is teaming up with OfertaSimple.com to offer a Partial Canal Transit Tour + souvenir hat for $65 instead of $130. Traverse the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks, experiencing the 8th wonder of the world in action as your boat rises and falls with the opening and closing of the locks. Cruise the Gaillard Cut, one of the great engineering feats of its time. Enjoy 360 degree views from tiered viewing platforms as trained bilingual guides tell fascinating anecdotes about the construction, history, and present day use of the canal. Breakfast and an all-you-can-eat buffet lunch included.

OfertaSimple.com launched in August of last year and is quickly building a dedicated following in Panama. With offers never less than 50% off and at times inching towards 90% off, OfertaSimple has over 40,000 Facebook fans and tens of thousands of members. Some of the best sellers on OfertaSimple.com have included half off at LaMar Restaurant, $13 for $50 worth of food/drink at Ego y Narciso Restaurant in Casco Viejo, 70% off at LT Burger in Hotel Manrey, 50% off a stay at Hotel Los Mandarinos in El Valle, 72% off food and drink at Habibi’s and 57% off a jump at Panama SkyDive.

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Wow - What An Amazing Video - Breathtaking... (Don't Miss)

Travel & TourismBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Someone turned me on to this video today. It's an amazing piece of footage that really highlights some of the most beautiful things about Panama. Simply gorgeous. Don't miss. Have patience, it takes awhile to load. Or if the flash version doesn't work you can load the html version. Enjoy - http://vimeo.com/12469947.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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73% OFF Las Olas Beach Resort Getaway

Travel & TourismWhen it comes to not-to-miss vacations, this Pacific Coast escape is off the charts. For the next 3 days, OfertaSimple.com (now available in English) is offering ocean view rooms at Las Olas Beach Resort at Playa Barqueta at 73% OFF– buy now and redeem anytime during the coming six months. Whether you choose to take a quick weekend trip or spend the entire week basking in the sun, you’re guaranteed to come back refreshed and rejuvenated. The resort has unbeatable amenities, ranging from two panoramic ocean view pools with full bar to a complete exercise room for those trying to keep in shape. In addition, the resort offers direct access to the beach, the use of tennis courts, and parks for children. Feast on fresh seafood rich in flavors at the two resort restaurants and pass away a sunset sipping cocktails at one of the resort bars.

Now at OfertaSimple.com, purchase oceanfront rooms at Las Olas Resort for $43 per night, a 73% savings off the $146 regular rate. OfertaSimple.com launched in August of last year and is quickly building a dedicated following in Panama. With offers never less than 50% off and at times inching towards 90% off, OfertaSimple has attracted over 40,000 Facebook fans and tens of thousands of members as loyal users. Some of the best sellers on OfertaSimple.com have included half off at LaMar Restaurant, $13 for $50 worth of food/drink at Ego y Narciso Restaurant in Casco Viejo, 70% off at LT Burger in Hotel Manrey, 50% off a stay at Hotel Los Mandarinos in El Valle, 72% off food and drink at Habibi’s and 57% off a jump at Panama SkyDive.

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Tourism in Panama Up 9.7% In First Quarter 2011

Travel & Tourism Panama received 558,000 tourists during the first quarter of 2011, representing an increase of 9.7% or 49,000 tourists more than during the same period last year. The figure, published by the Comptroller General of the Republic, would be in line with the expectations of the Government and the tourism industry, and they expect during 2011 to exceed for the first time the barrier of more than 2 million tourists received in the country. In March alone 176,000 tourists entered Panama, 6,000 more than the same period last year. Especially important was the growth of cruise ship passengers during March, with 6,000 more than last year, an increase of 14.8%. Tourist spending has also increased considerably. In the first quarter tourists spent $488 million dollars in Panama, representing an increase of 11.1% or $49 million more than during the same period in 2010. The increase of tourists will be accompanied growth in the industry. This year 13 new hotels will open in Panama. (La Prensa)
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Panama Promotes their Most Current Tourism Initiatives during Expotur

Travel & TourismPanama has become a tourist threshold for the Central American region, attracted by the energy of its capital, natural beauty and wide travel connections, considered “the hub” of Central America. From the 11th to 13th of May, Panama will be participating in Expotur 2011, an exhibition organized by the Costa Rican Association of Tourism Professionals. A large group of tour operators, airlines, hotel chains and tourist destinations will promote their services and specific products for audiences such as, destination weddings and honeymoons, water activities and many more. This event provides an important platform for advocacy in the Central American region, highlighting the different attributes of each country and brand participating. Panama will continue to promote during Expotur the multiple offers and initiatives that the country is developing to promote their tourism. The Tourism Authority of Panama and Copa Airlines have initiated the "Stop Over" campaign. This gives travelers who are in transit to other destinations with Copa Airlines the possibility of stopping in Panama City at no additional charge, with special rates for hotel and tourist activities. According to IATA, Panama has been ranked the eighth most important international aviation hub as the country's GDP. Tocumen International Airport receives more than eighty direct routes that serve a large influx of leisure tourists and business travelers. The most recent ones will be to Toronto, Canada; Porto Alegre, Brazil and Nassau, Bahamas. These last three will be launched in June, 2011.Panama has also increased their air connectivity with Europe, with direct flights from Madrid to Panama City with Iberia airlines. KLM and Condor Airlines are flying six times a week. These way European travelers can now visit one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the region, as well unparalleled ecotourism experiences. (more)
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Did The US Yank Salo Shamah's Visa?

Travel & Tourism Panama's Minister of Tourism, Salo Shamah, could not travel to Washington DC on an official visit with President Ricardo Martinelli because it appears his visa has been suspended, according to an inside source with full credibility. La Estrella repeatedly tried to obtain the version of events from Shamah and from the Presidency, but there was not response. (La Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Whoops! If the US did yank Shamah's visa, that would be hilarious. A minister of tourism who can't visit the United States? You can't make this shit up...

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Playa "La Angosta" on Colon's Upper Coast - Road Toward Portobelo (Not "Playa Langosta")

Travel & Tourism By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - One of my favorite places to spend the day is on the beach at "Playa La Angosta". Now, many people mistakenly call this place "Playa Langosta" - even the locals - but the correct and proper name is "Playa La Angosta" which means "Narrow Beach." I went there yesterday with my wife and daughter, and it's a really nice place to just spend the day kicking back with the warm Caribbean waters up to your neck. The beach is very nice, the water is clean, and yesterday (Good Friday) there were a bunch of SINAPROC lifeguards on duty. Now, I don't think that's the norm, and I believe there were they only because of the additional push the government puts on to protect people during holidays such as Holy Week, but in any case they were there and actually watching the water. There were also a couple of cops there to keep an eye on the tourists. Overall, the safety and security aspects were excellent.

Where Is Playa La Angosta? Playa La Angosta is located in the province of Colon, on the road to Portobelo. If you're a techno geek, you can just click on this link to download a Google Earth Placemark file to your computer. If you have Google Earth loaded on your computer and properly configured, it should open and "fly you" right to Playa La Angosta when you click on the file you downloaded. For those who are more technologically challenged - but if you can still drive a GPS - Playa La Angosta is located at 9°28'11.83"N 79°43'28.17"W. And I'll still give you "normal" directions for those who are living in the stone age. Leaving from Panama City, take the new highway from the Northern Corridor towards Colon. When the highway peters out you get dumped onto the old road, keep going straight towards Colon. Just past the McDonald's on your left, about one block down turn right in Sabanitas at the intersection with the El Rey supermarket. Follow that road and signs toward Portobelo. You will encounter a police checkpoint in the town of Maria Chiquita. The entrance to the Playa La Angosta is 2.9 miles on your left after the checkpoint in Maria Chiquita. You have to slow down and keep a sharp lookout because the turn into the beach is back and to your left, so if you're not careful you can blow right past it. And if you still can't find it, ask any local along that road because they all know exactly where it is.

$3.00 Buck Per Car Load: They charge a $3.00 per car entry fee just to park on their land to get access to the beach. They have little "bohios" - really just small grass roofs large enough to cover a picnic table - that you can rent for $5.00 for the whole day. We got one of these but really didn't use it all that much, we spent all of our time on the sand and in the water. There are no really big waves on this beach because the mouth of the bay is wrapped around and it's protected, and there's also an off shore reef, so it's a great beach for little kids - they don't get hammered into the sand by occasional rogue waves. There's also a restaurant there on the beach that has good seafood, fried fish, shrimp, prawns, drinks, etc. at reasonable prices. Yesterday they were slow and swamped by the large numbers of people, but we ate eventually and it was good food (get whatever it garlic sauce with the coconut rice, worth the trip all by itself.) Once you're done for the day, they have showers with fresh water for 50 cents a pop - just be sure to bring shower shoes.

Playa Langosta in Panama: If you do a Google search for "Playa Langosta" in Panama you'll get dozens of hits, find photos, youtube videos, and all kinds of reference materials. I think this is hilarious because as I mentioned before the real name of the beach is "Playa La Angosta" in Panama - you can also find some information about this site with a Google search of the right name. When you're pulling in to the place and paying your $3.00 dollar parking fee - check out the signs which clearly identify the location with the proper name.

Other References And Related Articles: This article entitled "Playa La Anosta - A Delightful Caribbean Beach" appeared in The Visitor in April 2009.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Scuba Diving Opportunities in Panama

Travel & Tourism By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Today someone asked about scuba diving opportunities in Panama on the Americans in Panama Yahoo Email group, and this was Richard's excellent response - the best two minute summary I've seen in a long time, that just about wraps it up: "There is diving around Boca Chica, Isla Coiba, the Pearl Islands out from Panama City (most people just call PC Panama), Portobello, Nombre de Dios and Bocas at least. Unfortunately the Kuna only allow snorkeling in the Kuna Yala, but that's definitely the healthiest reef and clearest water I've seen in my limited time in Panama.

The mud diving right in Portobello kinda sucks due to the vis, but I've heard that boat trips to Drake Island have been enjoyed by friends. There used to be 2-3 dive shops there. In Nombre de Dios, there's only one resort (Jimmy's Caribbean Dive Resort) but I believe they allow a la carte diving. There a little shore dive right in front with lots of swim-throughs, but the best diving is miles away, by boat. We dived there 2-3 times a day for a week, and 60% of the dives were very good. We dived the Pirate's Junkyard one afternoon and found lots of old bottles. Lots of fun raking through the muck in 15' of water and coming up with bags of loot. And Jimmy, a rocker from the deep south, is always entertaining.

I've dived several times in Bocas, but the sites we dived had very limited vis or not much to see or both. The best dive was between Bocastown and Isla Caranera, right in the middle of the channel. There was quite a bit of nice coral there. The dives in Bocas were cheaper than elsewhere and there are at least a couple of dive shops near the water taxi pier.

Friends have dived with Carlos in Boca Chica (just ask anyone in town for directions to his dock and boat storage), and went just around the corner of Isla Boca Brava where they encountered large schools of fish.

I don't know anyone that's dived the Pearl Islands (Isla Contadora) but know people spearfish there. I've heard it mentioned a lot so might be worth checking out.

Isla Coiba has the best diving I've done in Panama. The closest dive shop and boat ride is in Santa Catalina, a town that gives many the creeps. There was one dive shop there a couple of years ago that Herbie Sunk owned that's open all year long. There were another 2 or 3 that only opened in the dry season. That IS dated information. It's about 1.5 hours out to Coiba and surrounds, and a rough 1.5 hours back usually, in an open panga. When we were there, the vis ranged from 15-25', dark at 60' with a stiff thermocline as well so we stayed above 60'. Saw lots of whitetip reef sharks, turtles, mobula rays, tons of reef fish, some coral and sponges, crown of thorns starfish, etc. I could spend days diving that area and not get bored. For the surface interval they'll take you to Isla Coiba to register at the ranger station, pay a fee, and hang out for lunch. There are barebones accommodations there if you want to make a multi-day trip out of it. There were 1 or 2 liveaboards that offered multi-day trips out there, well worth it if still available.

There is also diving off of Pedasi on a couple of islands just offshore. I've heard good things about that, and plan to check it out in June. I remember at least one dive shop there but that was 4 years ago. There may be more by now.

Nitrox and deep diving are pretty much unknowns here for the most part. I think one shop in Panama offers technical training, but since you're probably not diving below 60' anyway it's a moot point.

The water is temperate on both sides, so a 3 mil wetsuit would probably be plenty, with a hood for extra warmth.

I haven't been snorkeling much but I hear it's fantastic in some places in the Kuna Yala. We dived off of one of the Kuna islands, and the shallow coral was pristine, with excellent vis. You can get package deals with hotel/lodging, food and maybe some boat trips to the Kuna Yala. I've never made the trip but it's on my bucket list and I've heard great things about stays there if you're easily entertained and enjoy simple food.

If you google SCUBA and each of those destinations, you might find some info online. Otherwise, look in your Panama guidebooks for contact info and general info. A guidebook might help you determine your itinerary as well, as there's lots of local information and you can zoom in by area.

Happy hunting!"

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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