Panama is exotic. It is a charter destination for people who are excited by deep jungles, living reefs and beautiful beaches, are fascinated by indigenous culture and ancient history, appreciate locally sourced food and are keen to slow down. Steven King, Captain of charter sailing yacht Columbo Breeze, has spent his lifetime exploring the islands of the Caribbean. For Steven and his wife, Chef Julie King, Panama is one of their most beloved destinations.
Steven and Julie have several favorite places on Panama’s Caribbean coast to share with charter guests: Bocas del Toro, an archipelago on the northwestern part of the Isthmus, the bayside town of Portobelo and Linton Island, both located on the north central shore near the Canal zone. These two regions are separated by about 175 nautical miles, so tough to visit both on a one week charter, but fine reasons for a repeat charter.
Bocas del Toro: 9.4166° N, 82.5208° W
Bocas del Toro is seductive. This untamed province of Panama is made up of nine islands, hundreds of cays and islets, and a protected mainland of biodiverse rainforest. It is a community comprised of diverse ethnicities dedicated to living in harmonious balance with each other and all that surrounds them. A charter to Bocas del Toro offers an astonishing adventure, above and below the waterline.
Bocas Town, on Isla Colon, the archipelago’s main village, is a ramshackle conglomeration of wood, thatch and tin structures, with fragile balconies and colorful facades. There are boutiques, guesthouses, eateries and entertainment. According to pretty much everyone, Ultimo Refugio is recommended for the best food in town.
Outside of Bocas Town the atmosphere is magically primitive and overwhelmingly beautiful. Trek through rainforests to see tropical birds, sloths and strawberry frogs. Some of the wildlife are endangered species like the painted rabbit, the green iguana, white-faced, spider, and nocturnal monkeys. Footpaths are used regularly by the members of that Ngobe indigenous community. In Bastimentos Island, Popa Island and Cayo Agua communities, you can hire an indigenous guide to explore island forests. Popa Island is the only forest where you can observe toucans.
Portobelo, Colón: 41.1255°N, 9.0246°E
Portobelo is a port of legendary drama, which all began when Christopher Columbus “discovered” the beautiful bay in 1502. Francis Drake’s coffin was sunk in the bay. Peruvian silver was exported from this heavily fortified port. Pirates and Privateers anchored here. There were battles and blockades and finally the construction of the Panama Canal to keep the port busy. After that, Portobelo lapsed into the somewhat dozy little town that it remains today.
Yachts anchor peacefully in the protected bay. Visitors tender in to peruse the shops, galleries and museums, and to try the seafood specials at Captain Jacks. History buffs admire the ruins of five 17th century Spanish forts and the restored Spanish Colonial treasure house, endangered UNESCO World Heritage sites that bring the storied past into focus.
Linton Island: 9.6195° N, 79.5842° W
Linton island is about 20 miles east of the entrance to the Panama Canal zone on the Costa Arriba, a rural jungled coast not very frequented by tourists. The island is uninhabited, not counting the monkeys, with hills covered in thick green vegetation and sandy beaches. The sensitive spider monkey colony gets agitated when people appear. They bark and scream and swing through the palms. They will approach people with treats, so pack some pieces of mango and banana for a walk down the beach.
Panama: Some of our Favorite Places
Bocas del Toro:
El Susurro Spa, Red Frog Beach Resort, Isla Bastimentos
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, learn about the natural treasures of Bocas
Panama Horseback Adventures, guided horseback tour
Flying Pirates Quad Rentals, guided jungle ATV tours
Portobelo Tours, horseback riding and hiking tours
Panama Outdoor Adventures, Canopy Zipline Tour, Horsebackriding, River Tubing
The Caribbean coast of Panama offers a range of adventures, from activities that are leisurely and relaxing to adrenaline pumping and extreme. Charter Columbo Breeze and collaborate on a custom vacation perfectly suited to you and your guests. Experience the marvels of Panama at your own pace in your own way.
Columbo Breeze, Oyster 66 charter sailing yacht, 6 guests in 3 cabins.
Experienced sailors worldwide acclaim the Oyster Marine brand for performance, maneuverability, safety and comfort. Charter Columbo Breeze in Panama. Embark on a true sailing adventure through a magical destination.
Read about the yacht and crew: Charter Yacht Columbo Breeze: Sails & Sallies
Contact Select Yachts to book Columbo Breeze or for additional information on charter yachts worldwide. Trust us to design your dream charter vacation.