Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#ThankYouMiamiGoesToPanama - Destination: Cambutal

It is no secret that we love to travel. At any given moment we are either planning a trip, on a trip, or daydreaming about a recent trip. We have even diagnosed ourselves with chronic wanderlust and have prescribed at least one trip (road trip or otherwise) per month to keep us happy and sane. As a result, in the next four months alone, we will be visiting the Dominican Republic, Duck Key, Dallas, Kitty Hawk, Panama, Key West, Mexico, and New York. That's 8 national and international trips before the end of 2015. Exciting, right? More like #blessed.

Every year our destinations change but, if you've been reading us for a while, you may have noticed that Panama made the list again. The reason is that Panama is "our spot". Everybody has that one place they consider paradise and dream of moving to some day - Panama, more specifically Cambutal, is ours. In fact, one of our first travel posts depicted our adventures to an ecological reserve that is only accessible via panga from Cambutal.

We love Cambutal because it is remote. To get there, you have to take a five hour drive from Panama City through paved and unpaved roads, up and down mountains. It's the type of drive where you absolutely need a car with four-wheel drive, as well as a GPS. It's also the type of drive that, for numerous reasons (i.e. a lack of reflectors on the road, semis driving full speed around blind corners), is safest to complete in daylight. Every time we go, we fly into Panama City before noon, rent a car, enter Río Cambutal as our destination in our GPS, and drive straight through, racing against nightfall.

We also love Cambutal because it is a tropical beach paradise. If you've been to Latin America, the drive to Cambutal will seem familiar. As you leave the city, strip malls with KFC and high rises are replaced with mountains, farms, and expanses of bright green vegetation. The scenery remains constant all the way to the coastline of the Azuero Peninsula, where it is joined by beautiful black sand beaches. Our days in Cambutal are spent fishing, exploring nearby tide pools, surfing, watching horses trot along the surf, and discovering seaside caves.

Finally, we love Cambutal because it is a tight-knit community. Locals and expats alike have made Cambutal their home and have curated a positive, neighborly atmosphere that is palpable even as a tourist. We stay at Hotel Playa Cambutal, an absolutely gorgeous property past the center of town, because of its hospitable and charismatic staff, its proximity to surf breaks, and its central role in the local community. Delicious food and abundant WiFi, a rare commodity for such a remote location, have made Hotel Playa Cambutal a key local hangout. The hotel fosters its special role in the community by hosting events including sport broadcasts, happy hour specials, and themed nights. The community's vibe is what makes Cambutal, and Hotel Playa Cambutal at its epicenter, such a special place to stay.

This year, like last year, we are headed to Cambutal during the Thanksgiving holiday. It's a few months (and a few trips) away. In the interim, here are a few photos from past trips to show you what keeps us coming back again and again.

What is your travel "spot"? Have you been to Panama? What parts? What did you like most about Panama? As we plan for our travels, do you have any recommendations for our upcoming trips? Are there are any must-visit spots at any of our 8 destinations? We would love to hear from you! Send us a tweet @ThankYouMiami or leave a comment below.

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