An App For That

Lists And How To Know What To Do In Panama?

It is difficult for me to brush past a list of just about anything. I almost always check to see if Panama is among those listed, regardless of the category. Best places to retire (, fastest growing economy (, where The New York Times says you must visit (, one of Architectural Digest’s must see places for design (, TripAdvisor’s top places to vacation (, Forbes’ ultimate private island vacation spot ( and recently we learned that a pound of Panama coffee broke the world record as the most expensive ever sold—a cool $1,029 a pound! (

Town & Country, an upscale travel and lifestyle magazine seen globally, named Panama one of the best places to travel in 2019. They reported that, “The islands in the Gulf of Chiriqui?, 20 miles off Panama’s Pacific coast, have always been a bit of a secret, sparsely inhabited for centuries, if at all. The difference now? Brand new, high-end lodges committed to preserving the area’s unspoiled environment.Coming in 2020: a field station for the study of the humpback whales that migrate here each summer; guests will be able to geek out and partake in research.”

One Of The Safest Countries For Solo Travelers

With all the disturbing news for travelers to the Caribbean, I was pleased to see that Travel & Leisure had named Panama as one of the safest countries for solo travelers—especially women. ( Along with that designation, Panama was also highly rated generally as one of the “happiest places” on Earth (no. 6). Canada holds the top spot.

Upon more research, I found at least one list, Gallup-Sharecare Global Well-Being Index, where Panama is ranked at the very top. Number one for the “Overall Well-Being” list and in the top 20 for healthiest. Unfortunately, the USA ranked only 23 in the well-being rankings and the jury is still out about the health of individuals from the States.

Nice To Be Recognized

I’m not sure what all these rankings really say about Panama, but it is nice to be recognized. If you take Panama as just one body, then it has always been laid-back, non-judgmental and full of fresh fish and locally grown vegetables. Just thinking about all that makes me happy! Generally speaking the only people getting over wrought in Panama these days are expats. I will note that the mañana attitude, is sometimes infuriating, but if you learn to step back and take a breath, generally, things work out!

Another aspect about emerging as a “hot” destination for travelers, retirees and vacationers of every age and economic strata, is having accurate information about the different offerings. What are the options for touring? How do we get there? What to expect? How much does it cost? Is it child friendly? Where should we go to join a particular group? What are the ratings for restaurants, tours, coffee houses? These are all questions, the average local most likely wouldn’t be able to answer fully. Prices and times change daily, restaurants open and close often and new tours and experiences suddenly appear, so it’s good we now “have an app” for that!

“There’s An App For That!

“Panama—Good Times”, is the brain child of Austin Hess, an expat who also publishes a glossy magazine called The Restaurant Magazine PTY ( and a monthly free tourist newspaper, Panama Good Times ( Hess, with his wife, Viviana Marcano de Hess, also owns, a couple of highly regarded restaurants, LaVista and Boulder 54.

Lots of selfies are taken on the ferry ride to Taboga Island for an evening at LaVista. This couple staged a shot with co-owner of the restaurant, Austin Hess (right)

While Boulder 54 is located in Boquete, 50 minutes by air from Panama City, it is named for the restaurant’s wine list and the fact it is built into a boulder, LaVista provides a very different evening packed with sensory experiences. All begins with a ferry ride from the Amador Causeway to Taboga Island in Panama Bay and free-flowing champagne. Exceptional dinner music and a six-course tasting menu are conducted from the top of a hill, overlooking the lights of Panama City and the Panama Canal. The quick trip from the dock to the restaurant is also interesting, given you are provided an up-close view of how the islanders live.

The Good Times app can be read in English or Spanish, just like The Restaurant Magazine—PTY and The Good Times local visitor newspaper.

There are lots of magnificent restaurants in Panama City, but only one application which provides all the details needed to plan a perfect evening, retirement or vacation in Panama. The Good Times app is free and covers 18 different categories beginning with restaurants and bars, medical and dental services, entertainment, arts and cultural, pet care, accommodations, tours and transportation, professional services, food stores and shopping, just to name a partial list.

Only With Your Consent

The app, available at both the Apple Store and Google Play or from, can track your location—with your consent—and keep you informed of happenings physically around you. This is especially nice as Central America’s first “Smart City” will be located in downtown Panama City, where one of the newest and most exciting residential projects, Uptown, has recently been launched. It will be the social hub of Panama City.

I am out and about Panama every day and even I was surprised by just how much information was packed in that app! New restaurants and services are now just a few taps away. Need an ATM machine close by? There’s an app for that. Good Times Panama!

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