A new program by the Panamanian government includes travel insurance for all visitors entering the country on tourist visas. The New York Times recently wrote this article and accompanied the story with a picture of a man in a bikini bottom (I’m not sure if he is in need of medical attention or not). Regardless, this is a great idea for tourism in Panama and not something I have heard about being done elsewhere.
The insurance is paid for by a $40 departure tax and the insurance expires 30 days after entry. The coverage allows $7,000 in treatment for accidents or disease, $2,000 for emergency dental, and $20,000 for accidental death. Even accidents during adventure activities (horseback riding, white water rafting, fishing, etc.) are covered, which is a good point to make clear to tourists. Continue reading
Before coming to Bocas del Toro I spent a year working in San Jose, Costa Rica and was able to travel a lot on the weekends and see the country. My radius was not huge because I only had about 60 total hours for the weekend and the roads are terrible, but luckily the country is tiny. I had a flight a couple of weeks ago to Las Vegas for about $400 and went up by bus from Bocas a few days early to visit Arenal Volcano and stay at the Tabacon Resort and Spa, which I had done about 4 years ago and really enjoyed with my family.
The volcano is usually covered in clouds, but last time I was there we were able to get a great view of the whole cone for the two days we spent and actually saw glowing lava flows at night while we soaked in the thermal pools at Tabacon. The thermal springs area is very impressive, but man the water is really hot and it seems like every time I leave there I have some kind of rash, that could be from any number of activities though and I would still go back.
One of the basic reasons that I came to Bocas del Toro and made the decision to begin development is the proximity to the US. There are short, cheap flights from many major cities throughout the US and Canada, as well as Europe. I just took a direct flight from San Jose, Costa Rica to Madrid late last year. Check for flights into either San Jose, Costa Rica or Panama City; Panama City is easier, but there is sometimes a significant price difference.
The local airport has expanded to receive direct international flights sometime in the future. Copa Airlines is talking about this and the plan is to get direct flights to Bocas from Miami, New York, Los Angeles and wherever the hell else will send a flight to a cow pasture.