I’m a huge fan of the show, and I would love to visit the location.
Survivor: Panama was filmed in the Las Perlas Archipelago, a.k.a. the Pearl Islands, a gorgeous cluster of islands off the Pacific Coast of Panama, due south of Panama City. It’s actually just one of three seasons filmed there – ‘Survivor: Pearl Islands’ and ‘Survivor: All-Stars’ were also filmed at the same location. Most of the 200+ islands in the archipelago are sparsely inhabited, or completely uninhabited, but Contadora Island is famous as the playground of the rich and famous. Isla Viveros, Isla del Rey and Isla San Jose are some of the bigger and more populated islands, where development is taking place.
Flanking Panama City’s gleaming high-rises and cosmopolitan allure lies the Old Town, or Casco Viejo, which thrived in the 17th century in the heyday of Spanish colonialism in Panama. It sits on the waterfront of the Bay of Panama, and the arc of the city can be seen rising in the distance. Much of the exquisite architecture has fallen to ruins, but restorations are under way breathing new life into the charming and colourful old district. Newly-restored buildings stand shoulder to shoulder to centuries-old ruins, giving the area a surreal and very appealing atmosphere.
Some of Panama City’s chicest cafés and restaurants are within the Casco Viejo, as is the presidential palace, the National Theater, several churches and cathedrals, and small plazas and parks adorned with statues of Panama’s heroes. Many of the renovations are being converted to stylish lofts and studios, art galleries and shops, making this one of Panama City’s most attractive neighborhoods and a popular tourist attraction.
Its latest starring role is as the setting for the newest Bond film, a Quantum of Solace. Panama attracted international attention last year as the film shot on location within the captivating quarters.
The Panamanian government is offering special incentives for the restoration of historical monuments and buildings with the Casco Viejo, including:
10-year income tax exemption on the sale or rental income of properties
30-year real estate tax exemption
total exemption on the 2% transfer tax of real estate on the first sale of properties valued above $50,000
preferential interest rates on loans
total import tax exemption for equipment and materials related to construction and restoration that are not available in Panama
I will be vacationing on the Pacific side, but could go to the Caribbean for a couple days if there are more tours there
There is great whale watching on the Pacific side of Panama. The tropical waters are breeding and birthing grounds for endangered humpback whales coming up from the south coast of Chile. Just 12 miles from the Pacific coast of Panama is the Isla Coiba Marine Park, where researchers believe the majority of humpbacks come to breed when they do so in Panama. The whale-watching season in Panama generally begins in late June and ends sometime in October. There are always a couple boats that run out of Panama City, and most do hotel pickups. Panama Whale Watching is a IPAT-certified excursion that runs two 4-hour whale watching adventures every Wednesday, from 8am-12pm and 1pm to 5pm. They can be reached at 507.6.680.8894, or 507.6.678.2271, just ask for Mario Wong.
My buddies and I are headed to Los Santos to surf and would appreciate any recommendations.
The Los Santos province definitely has some of the better breaks in the country. One break in particular, Playa Venao (also spelled Venado) even played host to the 2008 Central American Surf Championship. Venao’s clean A-frame peaks have drawn comparison to Black’s Beach in Southern California. It’s a 3-mile beach break with numerous peaks, so even if it’s crowded—for Venao, 2 dozen surfers is considered crowded —it’ll feel like California in the ‘60s. When conditions are overhead plus, it can close-out; this usually just means the nearby breaks are perfect. So, I’d recommend going to Venado, which favors high-tide and dropping, and some of the other beaches around there. Nearby is the rock bottom point break of Playa El Toro in Pedasí and Playa Lagarto, a pretty consistent beach break. Venao’s only about a 20-minute drive from Pedasí toward Cambutal, so it’s pretty easy to get a fun session in at each of the breaks in single day. There are a several other breaks around: just ask around.