THE BEST WAY TO PANAMA
Copa flies nonstop to Panama City, and American, Delta, Continental and Mexicana offer connecting service (change of planes). Restricted round-trip fares begin at $338. Round-trip service to David is available on Air Panama. Restricted-round trip fares begin at $160.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 507 (country code for Panama) and the local number.
WHERE TO STAY
Finca Lerida, P.O. Box 0413-00146, Boquete, Chiriquí; 720-2285, http://www.fincalerida.com. This is a bed-and-breakfast converted from a 90-year-old farmhouse on a coffee plantation in the heart of Panama's mountainous coffee-growing region. Doubles $144-$180 a night.
Panamonte Inn & Spa, Boquete, 720-1324, http://www.panamonte.com, in business since 1914, has 25 recently renovated rooms and a spa with two treatment rooms. (The Panamonte felt more comfortable to me than where I was staying, Valle Escondido Resort & Spa, which was nice but too exclusive for my tastes.) Panamonte doubles from $236 in low season, and $295 in high season.
Cala Mia, Isla Boca Chica/Boca Brava, Archipelago Chiriquí, 851-0059, http://www.boutiquehotelcalamia.com. This eco-resort in the Gulf de Chiriquí is on an island where solar power rules. This little bit of paradise is dotted with private cabanas overlooking the Pacific. Doubles $180-$400.
WHERE TO EAT
Panamonte Inn (see info above) offers diners inventive, gourmet fare in a cozy, rustic setting. Entrees $9.50 to $28.
Sabor Escondido, 702-2454, http://www.resort.valleescondido.biz/sabor.html, in the upscale Valle Escondido residential country club, is presided over by chef Melissa de Leon, who also runs foodie tours. Entrees from $14.50.
Restaurant Lourdes, and Sabroson, Boquete, local hole-in-the-wall restaurants serving traditional Panamanian cuisine. Dinner less than $10.
TO LEARN MORE
Embassy of Panama, (202) 483-1407, http://www.visitpanama.com.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times