Taboga Island One Day Tour – Team Experience Part One
Panama City is an incredible destination, but I think we can all agree that extremely lively, fascinating and entertaining cities sometimes call for a reprieve. I had been working for 2 weeks solid in Panama City proper and was ready to escape…the Taboga Island One Day Tour provided everything I was looking for and more! In fact…so much more I am splitting this into 2 different posts. Here is part one of my Taboga Island beach break experience.
With several business meetings to wrap up in the morning, I did not arrive to the Balboa Yacht Club where the tour departs from until 10:30. Not a problem, this flexible tour offers departure times at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 A.M. At 11:00 sharp, everyone was called down to the dock to board the brand new Taboga Express Fast Ferry. I was grateful to have come prepared per instructions with my passport – all Panama boat tours now require that you have your actual passport on hand before boarding the vessel (a paper copy will NOT do). After receiving a warm greeting from the captain on board, I sat back in the comfortable seats and took in the surroundings. As the ferry cruised away from the dock, I had an excellent view of the Bridge of the Americas directly behind us. This beautiful landmark was the first non-swinging bridge to connect North and South America’s landmasses in 1962 and was a key part of the Pan-American Highway.
While taking photos for some fellow passengers, I got to meet “Estik“, the Taboga Island’s Fast Ferry mascot. This plastic owl was strategically placed on the bow originally intended to scare away sea gulls and keep them from doing their business on the front deck of the boat. However the captain and mates were amazed to see that the sea gulls actually LOVE “Estik“and would come close to him and “rub feathers” quite frequently! The front of the boat was pristine, so perhaps they are choosing not to use the bathroom where their fellow fowl friend resides!
Before I knew it, we were approaching the dock on Taboga Island. This ferry is so fast that I did not even have a chance to take advantage of the convenient menu of snacks and drinks for purchase on board or the free WiFi (why look at your phone with the spectacular view of Panama City slipping away in the background as well as large ships waiting patiently to traverse the Panama Canal?!). Again, all passengers were greeted warmly on the island and passports were quickly checked before we stepped onto a truly magical island paradise and the start of my Taboga Island beach break!
Known as the “Island of Flowers”, there is a delicious floral fragrance that magically drifts in the air throughout the entire community of Taboga Island. Originally a volcanic island, Taboga Island is a warm and welcoming place where locals and tourists share a common goal of keeping the beach and surrounding areas beautifully clean. This is evident by the number of brightly painted trash bins at every turn. Having only eaten a banana for breakfast, I was feeling hungry, so asked the guides if I could eat first. They said of course, as the tour is formatted to fit everyone’s needs with the historical hike occurring in both the morning and late afternoon. Little did I know how big of a treat I was in for…
“London’s Restaurant” is located right off the pier and named after the owner’s sweet white rescue dog who often frequents the venue. The chef graduated from the top of her class in culinary school and it is evident from the flavors and textures she creates that food is a true passion for her. With lunch included in the tour, I started out with an incredible ceviche appetizer with fried plantains as chips. Wow. I lived in Mexico for 8 years, and I can honestly say this is the best ceviche I have ever eaten. Up next there is a choice of 4 main dishes, a whole fish, fish filet, hamburger, and grilled chicken with side salad and choice of rice or fried plantains. Wanting fresh sea food but not liking to look my food in the eye when I eat it, I selected the fish filet which came with an amazing sauce. I ate every last bite, then was thrilled to see that the dessert of the day was a warm brownie drizzled with chocolate sauce. Pure decadence. One drink is also included in the meal, so I sipped on my Coca Cola on ice and enjoyed the gorgeous view from the outside balcony seating.
This was only the beginning of my adventure on Taboga Island. Read on for the conclusion of our Taboga Island One Day Tour Blog about the beach and the town in Part 2.