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.
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!
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.
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.
You can paddle 8 miles down the Rio Chico, starting from the bridge near Alanje and taking out near
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.
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...
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Blazing Fast. 1.5 mb up and down. My DSL is 260 kb down and 200 kb up in Fairbanks.
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!
I'm trying to locate other postings ( Nov2006 ) of this area to see how others view this area.