As part of Utah Valley Magazine’s “I tried it” section, Editor Jeanette Bennett flew down to Red Frog Beach, a Provo entrepreneur-owned island in Panama, for a tropical adventure. Here’s five reasons Utah Valley travelers should go:
1. Panama uses U.S. currency.
This makes shopping, dining and transportation as easy as $1, $2, $3.
2. Panamanians hablo English.
… At least in Bocas. Almost every conversation I had with a merchant, Uber driver, hotel bellman, and boat navigator was understandable — at least by the second try. Most of the residents in the Bocas Del Toro area take pride in communicating with American tourists.
3. Panama Canal.
This wonder of the globe makes me proud to be a human. The four-story museum showcases the ingenuity, perseverance and vision it took for America to come in and finish a project the French had started. For $15, you can visit the museum displays (including finding out your body’s water content), watch a 10-minute documentary and ooh and awe at the ships coming through from the fourth-story, shaded observation deck. Hint! Make sure you visit in the early morning or late afternoon for the best chance to see a cruise ship or cargo loader coming through the locks.
4. Panama LDS Temple.
If you’re jonesing to mark off visits to LDS sites, put the Panama temple on your itinerary. The nine-year-old hill-topper is close to the canal and has a distribution center and patron housing on the property. Check lds.orgfor temple sessions, as they are limited. As you drive up the hill, you’ll pass an Arlington-like cemetery where military are buried in precise rows.
5. Climate is sun-tastic.
Every moment of my trip had the perfect temperature and breeze, other than the climb up the steps to the Panama Canal tour (which was hot and sticky and involved a stubbed toe). Think Hawaiian climate with a Spanish culture to explore, including food, architecture and music.
Bonus! Panama has been named the happiest country for two years running. After spending a few days under the Panamanian sun, I can see why the locals and the visitors find it easy to smile. Hola!