Results 1-3of 3 Reviews
by David Barnesoff
Panama City, Florida
January 23, 2012
Pine Hill, New Jersey
February 11, 2010
From journal "Panama, why Panama, all they have is a canal?"
February 25, 2002
There’s nothing ‘Grande’ about the Panama’s Isla Grande: it’s an underpopulated Caribbean-coast island retreat so small that one reaches it only by open outboard motorboat. And that’s precisely its charm. There’s said to be one automobile on the island, but we failed to see it. What we did see was a gentle arc of docks and beaches lined with soda-pop stands and small restaurants --- often the front porch of someone’s home.
On the beach in front of them, the boats of working fishermen. Behind them, dense jungle.
For lunch, our guide took us to a nondescript house-cum-restaurant with dining tables on the front porch, about a hundred feet from the water. I skipped lunch; my friends shared a huge order of broiled fish called Cierra. No one could tell us exactly what kind of fish it was, but my friends raved about it. ‘We could stay here a week,’ they declared. The meal, including lunch for the guide, had cost them something less than $5. It had probably been caught that morning.
HAD my companions stayed for a week, a cabin/room at the little Hotel Isla Grande would have cost $45/night for singles or $60 per couple. In addition to swimming, they could have dined, danced and shot pool in ‘Bar el Coral’, the little island’s version of a night club. Our driver/guide knew the owners, who cordially invited us to use Bar el Coral’s bathrooms for changing and to go for a swim on the hotel’s private beach. It was about a ten-minute walk from where the motorboat landed us.
The tourism guide listed at least two hotels on Isla Grande, and locals told us there was a path around the island that would lead us to another hotel, but we didn’t have time to explore it.
Allow about 1-1/2 hours from Isla Grande back to the railstation at Colon, including waiting time for the motorboat. The trip outbound will take at least a half-hour longer because you’ll want to stop for photos along the way.
The Caribbean side of Panama is significantly different from the Pacific coast; the drive to Isla Grande will reveal that to you. The entry ‘Road to Portobelo’ contains some photos that the IgoUgo format didn’t allow me room for here: There’s not much text, but you’ll see some of the sights that make the drive from Colon to Isla Grande worthwhile.
From journal Colon: Panama's Caribbean Side