How far is Playa Bonita from Panama Tocumen International Airport (PTY)?
Playa Bonita is about 30 minutes from PTY airport without traffic. At high traffic times--such as 5pm to 8pm on a weekday--it can take significantly longer. If possible, plan to arrive to PTY any time between morning and early afternoon to avoid traffic. Another option would be to fly in on the weekend.
Is there Free WiFi Available?
Yes, you will have free WiFi available in your rental apartment. There is also WiFi available in the Pearl Club and around the grounds of the Westin Playa Bonita Resort.
What is there to do while I am renting an apartment at Casa Bonita?
There will be more things to do than you will have time to do them.
- In Playa Bonita: You can walk on the beach, swim in one of the many pools, take yoga classes, workout in one of the beautiful gyms, play ping-pong or pool in the game room, relax in a hammock, or eat in one of the many restaurants.
- Within 15 minutes: You can walk along the oceanfront Cinta Costera, go to the fish market, explore Casco Viejo (old town Panama), shop 'til you drop at one of the many malls, toodle around in the tourist area of Amador, buy handcrafted items from local vendors, gamble at one of the many area casinos, go to the produce market, play golf or tennis, visit the Panama Canal, and eat almost any type of food from around the world.
- Within 2 hours: You can visit an experiential zoo, tour the rainforest, go surfing, explore a long string of beach communities, go to the Caribbean, visit the town of El Valle that is built inside of an inactive volcano, and much, much more.
How far away is the nearest grocery store?
There are many types of grocery stores nearby.
- Convenience Store: A small deli/convenience store is available within the resort. You can buy necessities such as bread, milk, eggs, cheese, cold cuts, wine, beer, water, sodas, candy and other snacks.
- Mini Market: A local mini market--called a mini super--is only a few minutes away in the fishing village of Veracruz. It's about the size of a 7-11 convenience store but the shelves are packed with everyday staples that Panamanians need, such as fresh fruit, ceviche, rice, beans, eggs and vegetable oil.
- Full-sized Grocery Store: There are several full-sized grocery stores within 10-15 minutes. Local grocery stores have most of the items you need, although the brands may be different from what you are used to. There is also a gourmet grocery store called Riba Smith that carries all of the brands that you know and love, as well as high-end items such as Geisha coffee from Boquete and caviar from Russia.
What are the local markets like?
The local produce market is one of my favorite things to do in Panama City. It's actually called the "Wholesale Food Market" because this is where all of the restaurants & grocery stores buy their produce. It is so big that you can't do it by foot. There is one area for bananas, another for pineapple, another for fruit, and another for general produce. The fish market is another adventure. You can get the local white fish called Corvina for about $1 per pound, sushi grade Ahi Tuna for $2.50 per pound, and everything else from octopus to lobster to ceviche. For either market, wear casual clothes and take small bills.
Are there golf courses nearby?
Yes, the closest golf course is less than 10 minutes away.
Are there casinos nearby?
Yes, you could spend a week casino hopping. Most of the large hotels & shopping malls have a casino attached.
Is the water safe to drink?
Yes! The water throughout Panama is safe. All of our rental apartments also come with filtered water in the refrigerator. We find that it tastes just as good as bottled water.
Should I rent a car or use taxis?
This depends on you. If you plan to spend most of your time at the resort with only a few excursions into Panama City, then I would recommend using taxis or Uber. Uber is especially easy and relatively inexpensive. Just make sure you download the app on your Smart Phone and input your personal information and credit card information before you leave home. We also offer a concierge driving service that is available on a first-to-book basis if you would like to sit back, relax, and leave the driving to us.
If you have a larger group, we can help you arrange transportation for your group.
If you are adventurous, renting a car is relatively easy. The most difficult part is that Panama City doesn't have a lot of street signs, so a GPS or the ability to use a map app on your Smart Phone is a must. Panama has most of the same rental companies that you are used to, such as Alamo, Hertz, Budget and National. You can easily rent cars at Tocumen International Airport when you fly in. The only "hitch" to renting a car is that there are many fees not listed when you get a price quote online. For example, it is mandatory in Panama to purchase local insurance. You will also need a toll reader, which costs several dollars per day (before tolls). When you add it all up, the actual cost of your car rental can be double of what your online quote is. Rather than get frustrated, if this is your first trip to Panama, use Uber! Do a practice run at home to get the hang of it, and then it'll be easy when you arrive.
We also have a limited supply of rental cars available at Casa Bonita. These typically are about half the price as regular rental cars and rent out quickly.
If secure, free parking available?
Yes, you will have access to a secure parking garage that is attached to the building. There is no cost to park in the secure parking garage. If you have guests while renting the apartment, there is plenty of visitor parking.
Is there a fee to use The Pearl Club?
Yes. The Pearl Club is a private beach club in Playa Bonita, which means that the club is not included with the rental, however, you will be able to use the club for a nominal fee. The facilities include:
- 2 gorgeous swimming pools connected by a double waterfall
- A private restaurant with poolside service (open on weekends and Panamanian holidays)
- A game room
- Use of kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and life jackets
- Private beach access
The owners of the apartment you will be renting are members of The Pearl Club, which allows you to use the beach club facilities and only pay a nominal fee. The fee goes directly to the Pearl Club administration and can be paid by credit card once you arrive.
- $100 per week per apartment (up to 4 people)
- $200 per month per apartment (up to 4 people)
- $25 per week additional person fee
- All fees are taxable with 7% sales tax
Can I use the amenities at the Westin Playa Bonita?
You are free to use any of the restaurants, including buffets, a la carte restaurants, the ice cream shop, and the many bars on a pay-as-you-go basis. The lobby bar in the Westin has live music on most weekends. You may also use the swimming pools at the Westin. Casa Bonita has a rooftop pool that you can use during open hours, or you can use the Pearl Club with a nominal fee. (See above.) You are also welcome to use the tour facilities at the Westin to book trips to the Gamboa Rainforest.
You will also have access to the Clarins Spa on a pay-as-you-go basis. They offer paid services, such as massages, facials, and the use of Aquabella (the gorgeous "wet" facility that includes a steam room, sauna, hot/warm/cold tub, rain showers, and Pediluvia stream).
Are there restaurants & bars nearby?
There are a half dozen restaurants & bars in the Westin Playa Bonita (on our same property), several "fish shack" casual beachfront restaurants within a 3-5 minute drive, and a hundred or so restaurants within a short 7-20 minute drive in the heart of the city. We will give you plenty of restaurant recommendations once you check-in. As foodies, we know how important good food is to make a vacation special!
What if I want to book a tour?
We provide tour options once you check-in.
What sort of outdoor activities are available?
There are so many outdoors things to do in Panama, that your entire vacation can be filled out outdoor activities. The approximate time it takes to get to each activity is also listed.
- Golf (10 minutes)
- Tennis (10 minutes)
- 4-person bicycle rental (10 minutes)
- Kayaking (1 minute)
- Stand up paddle boarding (1 minute)
- Jogging / Walking / Biking paths (5 minutes)
- Snorkeling (1 minute)
- Whale watching (10 minutes to the boat)
- Rainforest hiking (20 minutes)
- Horseback riding (20 minutes)
- Surfing (45 minutes)
- Mountain hiking (2 hours)
Is the Playa Bonita beach safe for swimming?
Panama has one of the largest tide differentials in the world. This means that during a full moon, high tide can be almost 20' higher than low tide. During low tide, the waterline is very far out, and I do not recommend swimming, as you have to wade through a rocky area in order to get to water that is deep enough for swimming. Although I don't recommend swimming during low tide, you can explore the rocks and ocean bottom without the hassle of water! During high tide, you can swim or do other water sports. The tide changes every 8-10 hours, so you get one high tide and one low tide each day. Click here to see the tide chart in Panama.
As far as the water, one of our neighbors in the building had the water tested in a North American lab. It is just normal sea water, so it is safe to swim. In fact, I'm in the water three times a week, so I'll see you out there!