Last weekend we made our second visit to Hooked on Panama, a fishing lodge halfway down Punta Burica. If you check the map, Punta Burica is the peninsula that sticks down in the Pacific in far western Panama, split down its length by the Panama-Costa Rica border. FUN FACT: our first encounter with Punta Burica was in 2004, when we sailed around it and entered Panama for the first time. We did an overnight passage from Golfito, Costa Rica to Panama’s Isla Parida, east of the point.
One of the many things we love about this place is that it is completely dog-friendly; the owners themselves are dog owners. On this trip, we took our two little darlings and five more friends who also brought their pups, for a total of five dogs. The only rule that Dan, one of the co-owners, gave us was that if any day guests showed up while we were there, we’d need to leash the kids (not everyone, especially Panamanians, think dogs are as charming as we do).
Thanks to rainy weather on Saturday, we lucked out and basically had the place all to ourselves. Occupying four cabins, we were the only overnight guests. We, and the pups, had the run of the beach and beautiful landscaped grounds, and a chill time was had by all.
For our Panama friends as well as soon-to-be-expats, here’s the skinny on Hooked on Panama.
- Website: www.hookedonpanama.com. The place is owned and operated by three couples with a passion for fishing and a love of tropical locales, since several of them split their time between Hawaii and Panama.
- HOP is a beachfront property with cozy, cabin-style accommodations complete with A/C and Wi-Fi, a fantastic pool, and a full-service restaurant and bar. Ricardo, the bar manager, makes a mean bloody mary!
- Fishing, of course, is the theme of this place — and HOP attracts anglers from all over the world to have a go at the seasonal runs of tuna, marlin, dorado, and other sport/game fish that can be found just offshore.
Although we’re not really into fishing, there are few things we love to eat more than fresh tuna. On our first visit, we arrived during tuna season and we had our fill of just-off-the-boat fish cooked to order. This time, the tuna was flash-frozen and just as good. The restaurant does a fine job with every meal, and we won’t soon forget the tuna sushi and ceviche appetizers and the fabulous fried red snapper that everyone shared on the last night. The tuna burger – cooked up from minced tuna and seasonings a la Hawaiian poke – was divine.
- Rates are much lower in the off-season (basically rainy season, which is now). The owners gave us a very reasonable price for food and lodging, and they made it easy by letting us pay everything at the end with a single bill.
- The hospitality shown by the owners was outstanding. It almost seemed like we were guests in someone’s sprawling, lush estate rather than hotel clientele. Dan, watch out – I’m going to beat you at Pente next time!