Liz Larroquette
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The Complete Guide to Visiting Coronado, Panama

Getting to Panama

travel in panama flying

As the international banking hub of Latin America, there are hundreds of flights entering and exiting Panama each day via the Tocumen International Airport (i.e. Panama City Airport).

If you’re looking for the least expensive route into Panama, you’ll want to first look into the flights offered directly through Spirit Airlines. An American discount airline, Spirit has remarkably affordable flights that run between Panama City and Fort Lauderdale, Florida every day.

Keep in mind that while Spirit does offer the cheapest flights- they are far from luxurious. Expect small cabin space and little to no “freebies” (including checked luggage and in-flight meals) when flying with Spirit. This route is ideal only for those who are on a budget, and who are not bringing much luggage along for the ride. If you’re a frequent traveler (or plan to be) Copa Airlines offers great benefits for frequent fliers.

If you don’t mind spending a bit more, you’ll have no trouble finding flights with most major international airlines. If you’re flexible with your travel dates, you can find cheaper rates during Panama’s low season, which runs between April and October.

Quick Tips

  • Spirit usually offers the cheapest flights when entering from the U.S. However, they compensate by overcharging for extras like luggage and preferred seating. If you travel with a lot of luggage, it may be equally cost-effective to book on a different airline.
  • When booking with Spirit, you can usually find the most options directly through Spirit.com (rather than a secondary site such as Expedia or Kayak.)
  • Flight (and hotel) prices are at their highest during the late Fall and Winter season
  • Copa Airlines is the preferred option of many frequent fliers.

Getting to CoronadoGetting from Panama City to Coronado

Coronado is a scenic 60-minute drive from Panama City. To get there directly from Tocumen International Airport, you have two main choices:

1. Hire a Driver

You can hire a driver ahead of time to take you directly from the airport to Coronado. Prices will vary depending on the model of car and the number of people in your party, but a good estimate is between $100 – 120 one way.

Below is the contact information of the trusted airport shuttle service Panama RoadRunners, owned by Neil & Denise Patrick (English-speaking expats).

For more information, visit PanamaRoadRunner.com.

2. Drive to Coronado Yourself

driving to coronado from panama city

Another option is to rent a car and drive to Coronado yourself. You can find car rental services in the airport lobby after you get through immigration. If you are renting a car from inside the city, there will likely be a car rental service within walking distance of your hotel.

driving to coronado from panama city

Car rental prices and procedures are similar to what you’ll find in other modern countries. From what I’ve experienced, companies here are big on “tack on fees” so if they say a car is $25 a day, take it with a grain of salt. By the time you hand your credit card over the total will likely be almost double what you expected. (Luckily, this happens before you take the car, so you still have the option of backing out.)

If you decide to rent a car, I strongly suggest you hire a taxi to lead you to the Bridge of the Americas, which is the final bridge you’ll need to cross to exit the city. Panama City is no worse than any other big city when it comes to driving, but it is no better. Spend the $10-20 it should cost to have someone lead the way and you’ll save yourself much time and stress.

Directions from Panama Citydriving directions from tocumen airport panama city to coronado panama

Once you cross the Bridge of the Americas (see above), it is a straight and pleasant 50 minute drive to Coronado.

The only turn to look out for occurs about a quarter way into the drive, around an area called Arraijan. The road (called the PanAmerican Highway) will split rather suddenly; just keep to the left and do not exit at this time. You will know you’ve hit Coronado by the drastic difference in shops, restaurants, and shopping plazas. (Not to be confused with Westland Mall, a new giant shopping center you’ll pass not longer after leaving Panama City.)

Note: Expect major traffic between the hours of 5 and 7 PM, particularly heading out of the city. In fact-  it’s really not worth it to leave Panama City after 3 PM on a week day. If you have a later flight, stay the night in the city.

Panama City is filled with hotels for every budget. As a courtesy, I’m able to offer my clients special prices for a night’s stay at one of Empresas Bern’s luxury hotels. Email me at LizL@EmpresasBern.com for more details.

Renting a Car in Coronado

If you decide to hire a driver to take you to Coronado, you’ll likely want to rent a car while you’re here. While there aren’t any corporate rental companies here, there are a few enterprising expats who offer car rental services. Most visitors actually prefer to go through these individuals as they are (generally) more accommodating and friendly than the big companies. Coronado is also a very tight-knit community, and chances are you will become friends with the person you rent from.

One trusted source for car rentals is Rob, owner of Gold Coast Autos. Rob also helps expat find reliable cars to purchase when they are ready, and has a fantastic track record of customer service. You can visit his site at goldcoastauto1.com.

Quick Tips

  • When driving to Coronado, hire a taxi to lead you to the Bridge of the Americas.
  • Don’t bother trying to drive in Panama City between the hours of 5 and 7 PM on a week day.
  • On the drive to Coronado, the road will split once around Arraijan- quite unexpectedly. Just keep to the left.
  • You can rent a car from several companies in Panama City, or from one of Coronado’s enterprising expats.. If you choose Panama City, expect “tack on fees”

Where to StayThe beautiful Casa Bonita, located just 10 minutes from Panama City. It's easy to see why my clients loved this development!

Panama City

Many world-class hotels make up Panama City’s sparkling skyline. As a courtesy, I’m able to provide my clients with special prices for a stay at one of Empresas Bern’s luxury hotels. Email me at LizL@EmpresasBern.com for details.

Coronado

coronado Golf panama

As a courtesy, I’m able to provide my clients with a complimentary stay in the Coronado Golf residential tower. Impeccably designed by Panama’s premier real estate developer, Empresas Bern, Coronado Golf is the area’s most luxurious condominium.

If you’re considering moving to Coronado now or in the future, I highly suggest you take me up on my offer to “try before you buy.” You’ll have access to all the same amenities that residents and resort guests enjoy, and can experience for yourself what life is really like in this area. Email LizL@EmpresasBern.com for more details.

Where to Eat in Coronado, Panama

Cost of food in Panama

Supermarkets

Visitors are often surprised at the modernity and variety of supermarkets in Coronado. With 4 full-service grocery stores within just a few blocks of one another, Coronado has something for every taste.

Riba-Smithriba smith coronado panama

A favorite supermarket chain in Panama- especially amongst expats. A storefront was just recently opened in Coronado, much to the excitement of residents. Though smaller than the other stores, it carries a much more selective range of products. Riba Smith is where you go to find your more high-end food labels, imported goods, and health foods (organic, dietary, gluten-free).

Located in Plaza Pergolas, after the Village Mall. If you’re driving away from the City, it will be on your right- just past the entrance to Coronado

El Rey / Super 99el-rey-panama

El Rey and Super 99 are both American-style grocery stores that have just about everything you would want from a supermarket. Both are clean and well lit, and I’ve experienced the same quality of service in each.

El Rey and Super 99 are so similar that I usually just choose the one I happen to be closer to at the time. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that El Rey seems to have a slightly larger selection of health foods such as organic and dietary options. Though, the difference is minimal so if these items are important to you I would head to the Riba Smith.

El Rey is located in the first shopping center on the left as you pull into Coronado; Super 99 is in the first shopping center on the right.

el MachetazoMachetazo

A three story “one stop shop” supermarket, similar to a Super Walmart. Machetazo features groceries and a cafeteria on the first floor, apparel and home décor on the second floor, and odds-n-ends on the third floor.

While Machetazo is great if you have an assorted shopping list, I find there’s less of a variety for groceries (likely because their inventory is so massive.) If you’re solely looking for food items I would suggest one of the other supermarkets.

Located in the Village Mall Shopping Plaza, across the highway from El Rey and Super 99.

Quick Tips

  • There are four grocery stores in Coronado. Choose Riba Smith for a small yet high quality selection, El Rey or Super 99 for many options, and Machetazo when you need things other than food.

My Favorite Restaurants

Gourmet PizzaGourmet Pizza Coronado 2

A Italian inspired menu featuring tasty specialty pizzas and some traditional dishes. Great for take-out or grabbing a quick meal within.

Located behind the Coronado residential gates, on the corner of Eisenmann and Punta Prieta (next to the Fire Station.) Make a right into Coronado from the PanAmerican Highway and drive straight until you see it on your right.

Luna Rosaluna-rosa-restaurant-panama

Located behind the Coronado residential gates towards the end of Eisenmann Rd- right before Coronado Bay and Solarium entrance. (Make a right into Coronado from the Panamerica Highway, drive straight until you see it on your right.)

Cafe CoronadoCafe Coronado 2

Superb breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu featuring many American favorites. A great place to go for a leisurely and delicious meal.

Located in Plaza Pergolas at the end of Coronado, after the Village Mall Plaza. (If you’re on the PanAmerican Highway, driving away from Panama City, it will be on your right.)

What To Do in Coronado

coronado panama best beach town expats

Activities in Coronado range from quiet and relaxing to active and socially engaging. Whether you’re looking to watch the tides roll in from your hammock or clink glasses with new friends at the beachside bar, Coronado has something to enrich every mood.

Beachescoronado panama beach playa

Coronado’s beaches are as stunning as they are exclusive. Accessible only to neighborhood residents and hotel guests, the isolated shores of Coronado provide a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere that is unlike anywhere else on the coast.

Enjoy being one of the few souls meandering the area’s distinctive salt and pepper shores, the iridescent glamour of which grows on you with every step. Once you’re ready to get moving grab your gear of choice and enjoy a rejuvenating day of fishing, surfing, or kayaking at sea.

If you find yourself in the mood for a livelier beach scene, a quick 10 minute drive will bring you to Playa Palmar. This vibrant beach town offers a surf school and a welcoming community that will have you feeling young again.

Coronado Golf and Beach Resortcoronado golf pool

This pristine resort and residential community offers a wide range of impressive amenities. Play a round of golf on the flawlessly designed 18-hole golf course, soak up the sun at the resort-style swimming pool, get a revitalizing treatment at the spa, and enjoy a delicious meal or cocktail at the poolside bar and restaurant.

A fully equipped fitness center holds everything you need to stay active, while a series of garden hammocks offer the perfect place to take a quick nap or catch up on some reading.

Coronado Equestrian Club

Often referred to as a “5 Star Hotel for Horses,” the Coronado Equestrian Center is a horse-lovers dream. Take a leisurely stroll around the manicured premises and watch some of Panama’s most beautiful animals at work and play. Classes are also available if you’d like to hop in the saddle yourself and ride through the verdant Panama landscape.

Community

Coronado boasts a thriving English-speaking Expat community. Head to any of the area’s frequent social events (ranging from early morning yoga classes to late night happy hours) and you’ll witness Coronado transform from a quiet neighborhood into a vibrant and outgoing community.

Events in Coronado range from quiet happy hours and revitalizing yoga sessions to bustling events that let you dance the night away. To find out about what events are happening while you’re in town, send me an email! The best way to go to these events is with a friend that can introduce you around.

Ready to see what Panama is all about?Liz-Larroquette-in-Berns-Helicopter-Panama

Get in touch before or during your visit to make the most of your trip! I can offer you special rates at luxury resorts, free nights in some of Panama’s most exclusive developments, and warm introductions to Panama and Coronado’s phenomenal network of expats and retirees.

Go ahead- email me at LizL@EmpresasBern.com and tell me how I can make your visit to Panama truly unforgettable.

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