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That title almost sounds like it could be the beginning of a joke but it’s far from it. If you enjoy the beach, vacationing, or exotic animals, this post is for you!
Last week, I told you that my in-laws were in town. We spent the first four days in the area here Giving the In-Laws the Grand Tour of Boquete, Panama! and showing them around the local area.
But last week was even more fun because we rented a car for the week and we were able to extend our reach. We might have done a little too much!
As I’m writing this, we just dropped my in-laws off at the airport this morning and we’re all crazy-whupped. It’s been wonderfully enjoyable but we crammed a lot in and we’re going to need some sleep!
Today, I’ll show you a little bit of the fun we had at the beach (a wonderful beach!). But I’ll also take you along with us to an exotic animal refuge and some other cool things we did… street meat, anyone?
Come on – let’s go!
There are two well-known animal sanctuaries here in the area – Jungla de Panama Wildlife Refuge and Raquel’s Ark. If you’re an animal lover, they’re both worth visiting. Jungla is much closer but Raquel’s has something that makes it worth the drive for many… a sloth you can hold. That seems to be the big dream for many people.
We made the hour and a half drive to Raquel’s for my in-laws to check out the animals and, of course, to hold the sloth. They loved it.
We did make a pit stop along the way at a random hanging bridge we saw…
And then we got to Raquel’s Ark. She’s got a ton of animals that you’re able to pet, feed, or hold… though that wouldn’t be a wise idea with the jaguar!
The Tuesday Market (a little filler before the beach!)
The Boquete Tuesday Market is the big weekly ex-pat social gathering. There are a bunch of vendors (mostly ex-pats) selling everything from jewelry to chocolate to food to weapons – and tons of other stuff. If you’re looking for something different, you’ll probably find it here.
It’s also the big schmooze fest that folks seem to love. People come here every week just to catch up with other ex-pats.
And over this past year, it’s grown to be in two locations across the street from each other. They’re run separately but they happen at the same time each week and it essentially makes it one big market for visitors.
We don’t usually hit the Tuesday Market too often anymore, but we thought it would be something different to take my in-laws to before we made our way to the beach.
The Beach at the Show Pony Beach Resort
Ok, I have to say that this turned out to be one of my favorite beach vacations ever. A friend of ours named Sara who used to lead one of the regular group hikes here in Boquete recommended a place to us called the Show Pony Beach Resort.
The Show Pony is located on the Pacific coast of Panama in Las Lajas. That’s about a 2-hour drive from Boquete. One of the wonderful things about living in the mountains of Boquete is that we get 75° F weather every day – perfect for walking around. However, we can drive an hour or two down the mountains where we suddenly have great beach weather… it’s the best of both worlds!
The beach resort
I’ll be honest, I didn’t have huge expectations. We took a vacation to the beach last year right before the pandemic in Las Olas (different than Las Lajas). It was inexpensive and fun but it was pretty basic. I wrote more about this trip in my post A Beach Vacation Totaling $405? Yes, Please! last year. I expected the same with the Show Pony Resort but instead was amazed by the resort, the beach, and the prices.
First off, there aren’t a ton of rooms here… I believe there are 8 villas, the junior suite, and “The Palace” (a 3-floor, 3-bedroom place). All the villas are ground-floor units surrounding the pool and that’s where we stayed. We rented two of these right next to each other – one for us and one for Lisa’s parents.
I was genuinely impressed. Each of these has a master bedroom with a king bed, a living room/bedroom with a sectional couch and double bed, and a full kitchen. The bathroom has an indoor shower but there’s also a nice outdoor shower and tub enclosed behind each unit. So you can take a rinse to get the sand off from the beach before heading into the villa… very nice!
On top of that, each villa has a patio in the front with tables, chairs, and a hammock. These villas were much bigger and nicer than I expected, especially for the price of about $100/night.
The pool and the bar/restaurant are right in front of you in each unit so it’s mindlessly easy to enjoy the facilities. Not only that, but they’ll bring food or drinks right to your villa doorstep and serve you there as if your patio table is part of the restaurant… nice, right?
I’d also like to note that the service there was great. It was extremely rare that we were ever waiting for anything.
Also, they don’t care if you bring in food or drink from outside. We had brought a couple of cases of beer and some snacks. We figured that we’d get most of our drinks at the bar (which we did) but it was nice to have the beers to take to the beach or just have one here and there. A daily hot breakfast is also included in the price (um, yeah, in that $100/night!) so that meal was covered each day. We bought dinner each night from the restaurant and then we almost always had leftovers we put in the fridge and heat up for lunch.
I liked that it wasn’t jam-packed there. When you limit the number of accommodations you have to offer, it can help to limit the feeling of being crowded. That was the case here. Even if all the rooms were full, I don’t think it would feel too busy. Regardless, we purposely stayed there from Tuesday through Friday to avoid the crowds (I love retirement!).
The ecological bridge
Directly behind the Show Pony Beach Resort is an ecological bridge. It was so close that I’d say it was probably less than 100 feet from our villa… and it was pretty awesome. It’s like you step out of the beach atmosphere directly into the jungle.
Check out the boa constrictor that we saw a couple of times while we were there…
One of the guys there told us that he’s the smaller of two boas they’ve seen over there.
Anyway, this was just a cool little thing to be able to walk through in the mornings or evenings when we weren’t playing at the beach. And it’s free so that makes it even more appealing.
Ah, the part we’ve all been waiting for… the beach!
I loved this beach.
You have to walk about 500 feet to get to the private beach from the resort. So we weren’t directly on the beach but 500′ along an open level path is no biggie in my book.
They had a few cabanas on the beach with chairs and tables. Nothing fancy, but not something you needed to pay for either and it was nice to have a place out of the sun sometimes.
According to Tideschart, the water temperature was a little over 84° F all week. My kind of ocean temps!
And then, we had nice waves the entire time to play in. Standing about thighs deep in the ocean, they were hitting me about chest level or sometimes a little higher. Faith’s finally at an age where she can handle the bigger waves and they made great fun for body-surfing and boogie-boarding.
I thought this was interesting – when the tide was out (early morning and later at night), it would be probably a good 500-600′ to get from the cabana area to the ocean. But in the afternoons, the water would be maybe 30′ away. And by the evening, the water could easily wash out the chairs…
But here’s the best part… the beach was practically empty. I’m talking crazy empty. As far as we could see up and down the coast, there was rarely another soul out there! Essentially, we had the entire beach to ourselves. I hate to be selfish, but that’s just the way I like it!
The Cost $$$
I already gave you an idea of the cost of our villa at the Show Pony Resort. Each of the two villas was $313.50 out the door for three nights ($627 total if you’re counting). That was paid upfront.
Then there were the bar and restaurant charges that would make our final bill. First the dinners. The meals weren’t outstanding but I thought they were reasonably good. That’s 5 people eating dinner for 3 nights.
And then the drinking. I’m not gonna lie, we had a steady intake of drinks from the bar. Of course, there were some non-alcoholic drinks like iced tea and Squirt (remember that one?!). But there were plenty of piña coladas flying around (plus virgin ones for Faith). There were also Bloody Marys, daiquiris, vodka tonics, some weird watermelon drink, shots of something that tasted like peach, beers, etc.
But my favorite by far was the Monkey Lala. I didn’t see all the ingredients he made it with but it had fresh bananas, rum, Kahlua, Bailey’s, chocolate syrup, etc. In other words, it tasted like the biggest slice of heaven ever…
The point is that we had three nights of dinner and lots of fancy drinks during our stay.
Then came the moment of truth… the bill for all that stuff. We were sitting with our in-laws at their villa patio when the manager came over and presented them their bill…
We weren’t sure how much was put on their bill versus ours but not too shabby regardless. Now how bad would ours be? I asked that very question as he just walked away chuckling.
But guess what – that was it. That was the total for ALL of us. We were astonished.
Add in the cost of the villas and this was a steal. The five of us lived at this awesome resort on the beach across two villas for 4 days, 3 nights having a blast for a grand total of $1,176.60. Astounding!
All I’ll say is that we’ll absolutely be back there again for a vacation!
Ah, the glorious views!
We also took my in-laws to a couple of great vantage points in Boquete (other than the welcome center from last week!). The first was a place where we just pulled off to the side of the road for some photos. It’s a location we were introduced to on a geological tour we took a year or so ago.
Here’s a link to the coordinates if you’re ever in Boquete and want to check it out. Just be aware that you’re driving up some narrow, twisty roads on a mountain. Here’s a road sign on the way up…
Does that sign mean you WILL crash? I feel like we should have a little say in this matter!
The second place was the Finca Lérida Coffee Shop in Los Naranjos. My mother-in-law swears that was the best cup of coffee she’s ever had. The views there and on the drive there make it a worthwhile little side trip to make.
Street meat, anyone?!
One of the things that my father-in-law was looking forward to and my mother-in-law wasn’t was the meat on a stick that the street vendors sometimes set up and sell.
What kind of meat is the meat on the stick you ask? Couldn’t tell you. They do have chicken – that’s an easy one. But the other one… not sure. We also like the mystery of not knowing either so I refuse to ask.
So for now, we just call it street meat.
Well, it didn’t disappoint. This past Saturday, the town was hopping. Between it being a Saturday, a Panamanian holiday (Labor Day), and a payday weekend, things were rockin’ and rollin’ in town.
And that also brought out the street vendors. I ordered us a few sticks of the street meat, one chicken kebab, a pig’s ear, and two bags of fried plantains.
My father-in-law loved it all. My mother-in-law? Not so much. Check out her facial expressions…
My favorite is that Google Photos automatically took one of these pictures and turned it into a “color pop” photo…
I hope you enjoyed following along on this past week’s adventures. It was a great time and our wish is that they liked it enough to visit us here again.
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What would be the highlight of this fun week for you? The beach, the sloth, the boa, the street meat, or something else?
Thanks for reading!!