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There’s More to Panama

Colonial church in AntónBy Rebecca Reiber [email protected]

Need to make a residency run to Panama or just want a change of scenery?  There’s much more to Panama than the towns that border Costa Rica, David and Bocas.  Why not take a leisurely ride along the inter-american highway to the town of Antón and experience more of Panama?  Just past Penonome, Antón is situated in the plains just minutes from mountains and beaches, about five hours from Paso Canoas.

Small Colonial Town, Beaches, Mountains, Culture and Art

In the town of Antón (also the name of the district) you’ll find the colonial area, its well-known Church of St. John the Baptist and the statue of Cristo Esquipulas of Antón.  The statue washed up at the old fishing port of Antón some hundred or more years ago and ever since has been housed here.  The Cristo de Esquipulas Festival is celebrated every fifteenth of January for several days in the town square and throughout the streets of the colonial center.  Neighbors meet daily in the aptly named Plaza 15th of January where artistic presentations, public meetings, fairs and other activities are frequently held.  When visiting the town of Antón, take a walk along 2nd and 3rd Avenues to enjoy the historic houses and don’t miss the “Cultural House” where you’ll get to know the town’s history and see many artefacts from yesteryear.  A block over is the local fresh fruit, meat and fish market where you’ll find whatever’s in season.  You can also take a farm tour or go horseback riding right outside of town at Finca El Guayabo where you can learn about farm life, cattle, sugarcane and more or visit the mangroves and enjoy “playa los azules” a beautiful beach only accessible through the mangroves.

View from the surrounding hillsWithin walking distance of the town plaza you’ll find lodging options like Villa Astoria Guest House – recently remodeled in colonial style with internal gardens and 10 guest rooms.  Starting from here, there’s quite a few things to see and do, like the well-known El Valle de Antón where you’ll find the India Dormida, waterfalls, and thermal pools.  To get to El Valle from Antón, just follow the road to Caballero – and don’t miss El Manantial on the left just as you start heading out of town, the restaurant serves local cuisine with flair, plus there are walking trails, beautiful scenery, and a swimming pool.  As you continue up the mountain, the road winds through a number of picturesque towns and you’ll feel the change in climate as you reach the top of the mountain where you can enjoy spectacular views of El Valle, the mountain ranges, and on clear days, as far as the beaches.

Nearby beachAnd when it comes to beaches, Antón has it made! Rio Hato is home to bijao, farallón, buena ventura and playa blanca.  In this area you’ll find a lot of tourist attractions, night life, and sporting and adventure activities. The nearest beach to Antón center is Juan Hombrón where you can watch artisanal fishing practices and enjoy a peaceful, uncrowded, beach.

From the highest point of the Antón-Caballero-El Valle Road you can choose a lesser-known route that will take you along mountaintops, between hills and valleys, winding along this two-lane road through the Panamanian countryside you pass through a number of picturesque small towns.  There are a number of different routes, all with spectacular views, one of which leads to the town of La Pintada where you can find the true Panama hat – the Sombrero Pintado – and buy hand-rolled cigars at the cigar factory.

Come experience Panama, there’s more here than meets the eye!

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