A perfect destination for an anniversary getaway
My wife lets out a blood-curdling shriek. Wine bottles clank on the floor as I slam down on the brakes. Horns blare. A diablo rojo narro...
My wife lets out a blood-curdling shriek. Wine bottles clank on the floor as I slam down on the brakes. Horns blare. A diablo rojo narrowly misses our front passenger door. Nerves frazzled, we carry on. We are headed out of town to celebrate our 10th anniversary, our destination an oasis of fresh air, cool breezes and soft sand. In a mere hour and a half we will be breathing in the salt air of Panama’s Riviera – the Pacific beaches.
We stop along the main highway in Chame, for the best key lime pie south of Key West at Amarilis Restaurant, and again near Coronado at Don Carlos roadside fonda for their famous BBQ chicken, and our picnic lunch is complete.
Finally in Santa Clara we pull into Las Sirenas, a cross between a cozy motel and a hilltop ocean inn. I have reserved the best room, right on the ocean. A friendly greeting, an arranging of our ocean-side feast, and we’re on our way ? to the best beach in Panama! Santa Clara Beach ? miles of pristine white sprinkled with black volcanic sand, gentle waves, crystal clear waters and best of all, it awaits us, virtually deserted. The sight of this private paradise takes my wife’s breath away when she steps out onto its immaculate expanse. A dip in the ocean and a picnic lunch under the umbrellas later, we are lulled to sleep by the soft rolling of the waves.
The city feels a million miles away. As the sun sets, we retreat to our room, shake off the sand and prepare for a night on the town. I have made reservations at Terrazas del Mar, an elegant, sexy restaurant inside Vista Mar Golf and Beach Resort. Chef Pascal Finet greets us warmly. We stroll the grounds of this spectacular resort. We meander through the meditation gardens, past a glistening ocean side swimming pool and a stunning patio overlooking a perfectly groomed beach.
Our tour is curtailed by the arrival of our appetizers. My sea bass gazpacho is a complex cross between a ceviche and sushi. My wife’s shrimp bisque is light and healthy, scented with Pernod. Like an old married couple, we dip into one another’s bowls without having to ask. My wife’s gigantic seafood casserole main course brims with octopus, shrimp, lobster and succulent fish. I devour one of the best bacon-wrapped filet mignon dinners in Panama. Instructed to leave room a mystery dessert, we have the copious remains of the seafood casserole packed for take-out. The mystery dessert – a frozen chocolate, coconut, and nut concoction anointed with an extraordinary blend of liquors — restores our fading energies, and so we leave this most sensuous of restaurants and head out in search of Saturday nightlife. We stumble onto a lively karaoke night at the Xoko, where we party until two am. The next day, we check into the luxurious Bristol Hotel inside the Buenaventura Resort at Farallon for a day of lounging in poolside cabañas, walking the beach, massages in the spa, and dinner on the patio. In the morning, as we leave through the entry gates, she leans over and kisses me on the cheek ? a perfect 10 ending to an anniversary getaway.
WHERE TO EAT:
Amarilis Restaurant, in Chame on the westbound side of the Interamericana highway, next to Summer House Furniture. Tel: 6511- 4028
Don Carlos Grill, just past Coronado on the westbound side of the highway.
XoKo’s Restaurant, Santa Clara, firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 993- 3876
Terrazas del Mar at Vista Mar, email@example.com Tel: 6612- 0095
WHERE TO STAY:
Las Sirenas, Online reservations: www.lasirenas.com English Tel: 6747- 1772, $110 – $140 for an oceanfront room.
Bristol Hotel Buenaventura, Bristol@thebristol.com Tel: 264- 0000, $235 -$435.