Playa La Barqueta, We instantly fell in love with this place after spending years vacationing in Troncones, Mexico. This beach is very similar in that it is a wide, flat beach with good surfing opportunities.

Beaches

You can start your day with an 8 mile bike ride east to the end of the beach, looking for turtle tracks and enjoying the oystercatchers, osprey, pelicans, terns and other birds. Fisherman may be putting out a few nets near the end of the beach. Pick up a coconut or maybe one of the 5" sand dollars found about 6 miles down the beach. ANAM has a turtle egg enclosure (vivero) at Los Hicacos, 5 miles east with all the plots labeled with the date they were placed there for incubation. By all means, the sunrise beachwalk or bike ride is not to be missed!

Wildlife

If the tide is high, cross the small drainage ditch in front of Las Olas, turn right at the large blue storage building and continue 1.5 miles to the lagoon entrance and a dock. Howler monkeys are often heard all along the route, and you will see many other birds enroute. Expect to see 3 types of vultures, the mangrove black hawk, yellow-headed and crested caracara, American purple gallinule, common moorhen, ruddy ground-dove, yellow-crowned Amazon parrots, smooth and groved billed ani, and many flycatchers (forked tailed, scissor-tailed, social, gray-capped, Panama, great kiskadee). If you get especially lucky, you will see a laughing falcon. Walk down the main road out of Las Olas and look for spectacled caiman along the drainage canal.

Bicycling

Fantastic! This, along with the endless kayaking options, is a primary reason why we were motivated to buy a condo here. You can ride 8 miles either direction on the beach. The west beach can only be ridden at low tide, the first half is a steeper beach and a little hard to ride on until you've gone 5 miles. There is a fishing village at the mouth of the Rio Escarrea and many many small ramadas. Several roads appear to approach this area from the north side of the river but you would need to hire a water taxi to cross it. About 3.7 miles from Las Olas is another road which goes away from the beach. I have the Panama maps on my Garmin and followed a parallel road back to the highway. I'll be posting maps with possible bike routes soon. The east beach can be ridden on most tides. Once you pass the last large house on the left the beach flattens out and it gets easier. On the return you can also get off the beach about .8 miles from Las Olas and return via a paved road. There are unlimited cycling roads to explore! It is an easy 8 mile ride to Alanje and you can return via at least 5 other routes which are 10-13 miles long. I bought a machete there and this can be a good alternative to driving to David for supplies.

River Kayaking

You can paddle 8 miles down the Rio Chico, starting from the bridge near Alanje and taking out near Querevalo on the main Las Olas - David highway near the gas station. The beginning stretch was a Class 2 for the first 2 miles. It broadened out and slowed after that. We checked with local people at both places before parking our trucks and both groups were exceptionally accommodating of us. The woman living at the take-out brought us all water and gave us a clump of plantain to take with us, since they have not seen gringos paddling this stretch before. She has two daughters learning English and one daughter has a boyfriend running the gas station. We now buy our gas there. Her daughter comes out at times to help translate our poor Spanish. This river empties into the lagoon system so it looks possible to get dropped off at Alanje or further downstream at the gas station by the takeout and paddle into the lagoon system and return back to the dock.

Lagoon Kayaking


The dock and starting point of the lagoon kayaking is 1.8 miles from Las Olas. Cross the drainage canal (very narrow) in front of Las Olas and go .2 miles to where you see a house on left and blue building on right. Take a right at the blue bldg and continue 1.5 miles to the lagoon. The road also goes left after the house and comes back to the highway (good for walking or cycling). You can even put your kayak in right at the canal in front of Las Olas and paddle downstream to the dock. Note: you might not be able to paddle upstream against the current if there has been recent rainfall. I computed that it is about a 16 mile loop if you were to paddle out through the surf, head around the point 8 miles east and then re-enter the lagoon system and paddle back to the dock, about a 5 hour paddle. Bring a GPS!

There are many options for paddling. Check GoogleEarth and see all the possible routes. The tidal current can approach 2 mph so it is worth considering the tides. We noticed the tides reverse about 1.5 hours later than the published charts from Balboa or Panama City. Expect to hear howler monkeys and do try to get your paddling partner to call them. I found some takeout locations and marked their GPS locations. The best one is 2.6 miles one way. Go into the main part of the lagoon and stay on the left side. We saw a caiman near there. At 4.3 miles we stopped on the right and noted a clearing or path through the trees heading to the beach, 1 mile away. Buggy in the trees! Lots of exploring to do. About .4 miles from the start you will see a boat or two parked. You can access this point by land by driving 2.3 miles towards David and taking a right at the Movistar busstop. Follow the road to the end, staying right. The road ends near a person's house and I did not go all the way on my bike to check it out. Next time...

It looks possible to go out on a multi day kayak trip in protected waters and get over to Boca Chica, about 28 miles from Las Olas.

Food


The Las Olas restaurant was excellent and we often ordered the Greek Salad or from the vegetarian menu. The beach restaurants should be checked out. A coke is 80 cents and beers are 65 cents. I heard beer is much cheaper at the local store, Angelica's, 1.3 miles down the road. Bananas are 5 cents a pound! Coconuts 20 cents each, pineapples and papayas $1. There are many local places to eat within biking distance and they need to be checked out.

Night Life


The beach restaurants may have salsa or merengue music on Saturday and Sunday, the two days most locals can get to the beach. It can be a nice change from the normal tranquility of Las Brisas del Mar and a chance to dance a little. We are hoping Las Olas has a weekly dance opportunity in the bar or nearby. Elaine will need to work on them. We did go salsa dancing with Hector and Nivia at Zebedes Night Club, .5 miles towards Boquete from El Rey. They have 3 dance floors and a very loud sound system, so bring earplugs. Hector and Nivia are wonderful salsa dancers and live just down the road from Las Olas. The Las Olas bar has potential for dancing and you can often strike up a conversation with other visitors during dinner or in the bar.


Turtles

What can I say? On our first night at Las Olas an Olive Ridley came ashore directly in front of Las Olas and deposited her eggs during the full moon. About every few days another turtle would come ashore. and once a week some hatchlings would go out to sea. Marciele at Rancho La Costena often has newly-hatched turtles to view and he will advise you when the next release will be. We went through a good deal of trouble at Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica to see Leatherback turtles lay eggs and now its all here for free. article

Frogs

The walkway lighting at las Brisas del Mar double as frog feeding stations. Its interesting to watch them eat the little white moths which are attracted to the lights. Not sure if territory is staked out but there is often one frog per light. We always carry night lights so we can avoid stepping on them.


Internet

Blazing Fast. 1.5 mb up and down. My DSL is 260 kb down and 200 kb up in Fairbanks.

David

Park at the Gran Hotel Nacional and walk 2 blocks to Casa Vegetariana. 30 cents a portion. 3 can eat for less than $5. Buses are $2 to ride from Las Olas to David, and there are at least 3 per day. A taxi to David or the Airport is approximately $25.

Las Olas Resort

Next door. We were very impressed by Brad Davis (real estate saleman) and Anthony Arauz and their commitment to the future of the Playa la Barqueta area. We only met Juan Arauz several times and admire him for his vision of developing the area. We as Alaskans found much to like about this area, its remoteness and its distance from populated areas. Of course they are focused on the golf course, tennis courts and golf course lots and the Estrella Condo development, but we received 1st class treatment in the purchase of our condo. Las Olas is next door and we spent a lot of time there in the restaurant enjoying the company of the waiters and servers and vegetarian menus. The Greek salad was our favorite!

Playa Barqueta

I'm trying to locate other postings ( Nov2006 ) of this area to see how others view this area.

 

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