advertisement

There are two exit routes from the city: the Puente de las Américas (Bridge of the Americas) that spans the mouth of the canal; and the new cable-stayed span bridge Puente Centenario, built in 2004, that crosses the canal at the Gaillard (Culebra) Cut, the section of the canal whose excavation cost the most lives during its construction. Both routes are nearly the same in terms of distance, and each has a toll of 50¢ (25p). Do not leave Panama City from 3:30 to 6:30pm, or return between 7 and 9am, when heavy traffic jams could add an extra 30 minutes to an hour to your travel time.

By Car -- I suggest renting a car to get around the Pacific Coast, especially if you don't want to be stuck at your resort or hotel. For the Bridge of the Americas, take Avenida de los Mártires along Cerro Ancón, which connects with the Panamericana and the bridge. For the Puente Centenario, head out past the Miraflores Locks until you see the bridge entrance. The four-lane Interamericana Highway is in good shape, and turnoffs are marked by either a municipal sign or promotional billboard.

By Bus or Taxi -- Buses leave from the Albrook Terminal. Buses will drop you off at the turnoff for each beach, where cheap taxis (about $3/£1.50 wait for the quick ride to the beach. Taxis from the city charge an average of $50 (£25) for transportation to all beaches listed in this section, less if heading to the Intercontinental Resort in nearby Playa Bonita. Some resorts here provide transportation for guests from both airports or any hotel in Panama City. Pesantez Tours (tel. 263-7577; www.pesantez-tours.com) has round-trip transportation, dropping off and picking up on different dates, for $56 (£28) per person to beaches like Santa Clara.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.