Since we stayed at at the Westin Playa Bonita on the Pacific side of Panama, we knew that we wanted to do a day trip to the Caribbean. Let’s be honest, is there anything that beats Caribbean water?
I think not.
Now, full disclosure…Isla Grande was not our first choice. We were dying to go to Bocas del Toro (too far), San Blas (Zika infested/cut off to tourists), or the Pearl Islands (tour group closed due to Carnival). As you can see, the odds were not in our favor. However, this is the nature of the beast when traveling, so we decided to go with the flow and explore a new-to-us area! Well, it turned out to be a fabulous choice.
We hired a driver to take us to Colon, where we took one of these adorable little boats over to the island. Check out the security guards- they don’t play around here!
After our mini boat ride, we arrived & had the best time exploring! It’s pretty simple really- you go left off of the dock, it’s the public beach. You go right off of the dock, it’s the local town. We chose both, of course!
The public beach is pretty small but nice for laying out- the water is clear, blue & warm (don’t mind those scary storm clouds- they passed in about 20 minutes).
After you spend an hour or so laying on the beach & frolicking in the water, you must head over to the other side. This is where the culture & hidden gems are found. Basically there’s one dirt path that lines the ocean. There are local residents’ homes, hole in the wall restaurants, and you can hop into the water at any time. Literally- people were stepping off of our restaurant dock to hop in & then back out. All of the home colors are so vibrant.
Adorable red doors everywhere (anyone know why?)…
Side note: we had – hands down – the best meal of our trip here. Spicy grilled shrimp, fresh rice & beans, plantains, cerveza…delicious! We were too busy eating to snap a pic!
Peace out, Isla Grande! We’ll miss you…