Surfers

Helpful Travel Tips and Commonly Requested Information

What You Should Know Prior To Your Travel:


Here are Some Helpful Tips To Get You Prepared and Packed For Your Trip:

  • Passport Requirements - BE SURE YOUR PASSPORT IS TRAVEL READY! Every Country has different International exit/entry documentation requirements. Make sure you know before you go (or book). Here are some links to travel requirements from a few countries:
  • COVID Testing Requirements - The Government of Panama requires a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or Antigen) within 48 hours prior to traveling to Panama. ... Each individual entering Panama must complete and sign an electronic sworn affidavit prior to check-in. For entry to another country from Panama, it is best to verify requirements with the arrival country. We can help set up COVID antigen tests prior to your departure if needed. Please let us know in advance if you require this service,
  • Electronic sworn affidavit form - Here is the information you will need to fill out the form:
  • Travel Insurance - we get a lot of questions about travel insurance. World Nomads offer travel insurance, you can click here to get a quote.​
  • Packing and Luggage Best Practices - It can be pretty devastating when the airlines loses your luggage or even worse - damages your surfboard. It's pretty rare but just in case, here are some helpful tips to help in this situation:
    • Lay out all the items in your luggage and take a photo for inventory just in case it gets lost for good by the airlines. This will speed up the reimbursement process by the airlines just in case.
    • Take a photo of your surf boards and the serial #'s on the boards.
    • Keep track of your baggage tags and also take a picture of them just in case they get lost or damaged.
    • Make sure your luggage has your contact information on an exterior luggage tag that's easy to read and also attach one inside the bag in case the tag on the outside gets lost, ripped off, etc.
    • Make your luggage look different from all the others out there. Most people have black roller luggage and can mistakenly take the wrong one, using a personal identifier that is obvious will help alleviate this problem.
      • Think bedazzler
      • Stickers
      • Colorful tags
      • Paint something cool with a stencil
      • Tracking device that be used with an app on your phone (remember you will need to ensure you have data to use your phone while traveling)
      • luggage belt/strap
      • Colored/patterned duct tape
    • Make sure you know how much luggage is included free of charge with the purchase of your ticket and also the weight limitations so you don't have to pack / unpack when you get to the ticket counter.
    • Again, take a photo of your luggage and its contents in case you need to send it to the airlines to make it easier for them to find it in the event it gets lost.
  • Cell phone - contact your home country service provider about your international plan coverage. WhatsApp is the main method of communication here. Service is spotty in our area but it is available at the resort in certain areas if needed. The service provider in our area is CLARO.
  • Language - Spanish is the most widely spoken language. In the city many people speak english but in the interior very few speak any other language than spanish. A phrasebook or phone translator is very helpful.
  • Money - the USD is the currency used here also referred to as Balboas. Paper money is all in USD but some coins will be in Balboas. We accept credit cards (Visa & MC) at our resort with the cc present and there is a 4% tax with every charge. The closest ATM is 45min from us in a town called Mariato. It does not always have cash in it, so we recommend using the machine during banking hours to verify prior to your transaction that the machine does in fact have cash.
    • Alert your credit card company and bank about your upcoming international travel to ensure your credit card and ATM cards are not frozen for suspected fraudulent activity.
    • Bring cash in small denominations for making simple purchases at little convenience stores and paying taxis.
  • Gratuities - When dining in small local restaurants called "fondas," it is not customary to leave a tip. When dining in sit down restaurants with table service, a 10 - 15 % tip is customary. At our resort, we suggest a 15% tip on the restaurant and adventures which gets split equally among all our employees. This is included at check-out for your consideration. This is the only time that gratuities are expected in Panama, not on taxis etc. Remember to follow the local customs to avoid people expecting handouts from foreigners. There is commonly something called the "gringo-tax" which is when Panamanians are giving foreigners a higher price than the locals. This not only makes that person look greedy but it personally hurts to be prejudiced and has a negative impact on tourism. Knowledge is power, pay what you should and nothing more.
  • Water - the water is safe to drink throughout the country except for remote islands. At our resort we have a purification system. Please bring your reusable water bottles to avoid plastic wastefulness.
  • People- Friendliness: Panamanians are literally the happiest people on the planet. Treat them with respect, and a smile, and you will be amazed by their generosity, kindness, and openness.
  • Vehicle Rentals - If you believe you have insurance through your credit card company or home country insurance carrier. Bring a printed copy of your policy. It is very rare the rental companies will accept outside policies and their coverage is very expensive. It is best to call ahead and get everything in writing to present to the rental counter in Panama. Above all be sure to get 4x4 so you park at our hotel and have the freedom to explore off the main roads. Sometimes you need it just for the main roads.
  • WIFI / Internet - We have WiFi available for our guests in the common area of the hotel. Just be warned that it is quite slow and not what most of the world is accustomed too. We are expecting some changes soon and will update this info at that time
  • Telephone - Call your phone company to turn on your international data and ask about purchasing a SIM card at your destination.
    • Remember to download WhatsApp which is the main form of communication here. With access to internet you can easily use this to make calls and send messages. Skype is another great way to communicate internationally.
    • Sync your phone at home prior to your international departure in case your phone gets broken, stolen, or lost.
    • Email yourself your important contacts in case you lose your phone so you can get in touch with people at home in case of an emergency. (hint: make sure you know the passwords to get into your email from another computer)
  • Out of Office Email Notification - Remember to set this to alert your coworkers you are not available. This is out of respect for your holiday time, people don't want to bother you, and then they won't be offended when you don't return their email like you usually do!
  • Electricity / Outlets / Power -The outlets in Panama are all standard 110 V and the frequency is 60 HZ. You can use your electric appliances in Panama, if the standard voltage in your country is between 110-127 V (as in the US, Canada and most South American countries. The power does go "out" on occasion which is why it is important to have a headlamp with you and also portable chargers for your cell phone.




What Airport To Fly Into:


Most people fly into Panama City - Tocumen International Airport Code: PTY​

  • Be sure to read EVERY detail of the confirmation email you received from your airline company. This will make your travel a LOT less stressful, make you look like you know what you're doing, and avoid major delays in your travel day especially if you don't speak the language.
  • Immigration: When you arrive, you will need this address for Immigration:
    • Morrillo Beach Eco Resort - Veraguas (Province) - Morrillo (Town)
    • COVID Testing Requirements - The Government of Panama requires a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or Antigen) within 48 hours prior to traveling to Panama. ... Each individual entering Panama must complete and sign an electronic sworn affidavit prior to check-in. For entry to another country from Panama, it is best to verify requirements with the arrival country. We can help set up COVID antigen tests prior to your departure if needed. Please let us know in advance if you require this service,
    • Electronic sworn affidavit form - Here is the information you will need to fill out the form:
  • In the airport: You will go through the first immigration line where you give the officer the address above. Then you get shuffled into baggage claim where you will find your origin city on the carousel TV's. Grab your luggage and then head to your next step.
  • Once you have your luggage: You will likely have to go through an additional maze to get through a final customs/immigration officer checkpoint. They will screen your arriving luggage and any carryon items as well. Then, exit the main doors for your next step.




Public Transportation To Get To Morrillo Beach Eco Resort:


  • SHUTTLE:By far the easiest way to go. We can pick you up from the airport and whisk you away to the resort directly or, to your city hotel for the night depending on your plans. When you leave customs, turn right and you will see the meeting point (photo at right)where the driver will be holding a sign that says Morrillo Beach Eco Resort. Advanced reservation required.* ​​
    • *Prices vary on depending on group size, time, etc. so let us know and we will get you a quote​
  • TAXI:After leaving the immigration area, turn left out the main doors and you will see this taxi stand:
    • and drivers waiting to offer you a ride. The taxi to city center can be anywhere from $12 - $25 depending on day or night, and how much luggage and people you have. Never pay more than $25 and don't let the driver rip you off. Carry small bills to keep it simple. You can establish the price up front and they are negotiable...so see how low you can go!
    • Remember to also have the UBER app downloaded on your phone as a backup in case a taxi does not show up for your scheduled ride to the airport or somwhere important.
  • UBER:​ This service is available at the airport as well as throughout the city and works the same as it does in the USA. You schedule an UBER using your app and they will give you directions on where to meet them. The cost is usually about $12 - $15 to city center.
  • BUS: The bus from the city to the interior is really easy however, from the airport to the city center is a bit trickier however, if you have the adventurous spirit and want to save on cash. Once you exit the airport, you head to the right following the sidewalk that goes behind the small fast food restaurant and back by the employee parking and police offices. Continue following the sidewalk for about 5 min. out to a really busy road where you will see a bus stop. BUT, don't stop there; that bus stop is going the wrong way. You actually have to cross through the roundabout on the sidewalk (very dangerous here and drivers don't honor the pedestrian rules). So look across the busy road and you will see another covered bus stop area. You will need to know which bus to get on which is indicated on the front of the windshield. If you are taking the bus all the way to our area, look for the bus that says ALBROOK on the front of it. You may have to wait a while OR, ask someone waiting there which bus to take. This is not for the faint of heart, it is hard to do, and not many people speak english. We can certainly offer you guidance on this so please let us know ahead of time.
    • There are 3 different busses:
      • Metro:
      • Diablo Rojo:
        • You can't pay cash on the Metro Bus; you need a metro card OR, you can pay another passenger to use their card. It's about $.35 - $1.00 with a nice smile, most people will help you out.
        • The "Diablo Rojo" is a classic Panamanian experience that is fading away. As you can see from the photo, they are pretty awesome! This is where the school busses of the USA came for their afterlife.
          • The Famous "Diablo Rojo" Busses of Panama: Feeling adventurous? Go for it but beware, the Metro Bus is the safer Alternative.
        • On the windshield will have the name of the route and there will be someone yelling out the route as well. The cost is always $.50 as far as I know.
        • There is no a/c and they can get really packed. Keep your belongings close to you. I have enjoyed my experiences on these busses as an authentic way to get around and I have never had any problems. However, I have heard stories of people getting robbed and active US service members are prohibited from using them so...at your own risk. But then again, life really is at your own risk).​
      • Interior Bus:
        • The Bus is a great alternative for travelers looking for more adventure, an authentic experience, and a very inexpensive travel option. From the main terminal called Albrook in Panama City to Santiago is about 4hrs then another 2.5 hours to Torio.
        • When you get to the Albrook terminal, on one side is the mall and the other side is the main terminal. Go inside the terminal and look for a bunch of ticket windows (photo left) with destination names above the windows. Look for the one that says “SANTIAGO”
        • If someone is at the window, you can pay at the window (save your receipt)or, they will collect the fare on the bus when you get to Santiago $9. Busses leave every 30 min typically OR when the bus is full. So, don’t leave the bus once you put your luggage on.
        • The bus will say SANTIAGO PANAMA on the front windshield (photo left). Take a sweater on the bus with you, the AC is usually really cold. You can give them your luggage for underneath or if its small, take it on with you. Keep your small stuff and valuables with you. I never have problems with luggage underneath.
    • The ride from PTY to Santiago by bus is bet 3-4hrs depending on stops. You can eat and drink on the bus and there may be a stop along the way where you can purchase snacks and food however, bringing your own snacks is recommended for a healthier option.
      • You will know you are in Santiago when everyone gets off the bus. When you get off the bus you will look for a small sign up high on the wall that says Mariato on it and a smaller van that will say Mariato Santiago on the windshield (you may have to ask for help). That will cost $4.25 and go all the way to the last stop; Torio which is about 20min from Mariato. We can arrange to pick you up there for a $25 fee. Again, communicating via whatsapp to make a plan.
      • Note for the bus: It is very well air-conditioned, so consider having a sweater or small jacket to wear.​




Driving Instructions To Morrillo Beach Eco Resort:


Driving Instructions from Bridge of the Americas to Morrillo Beach Eco Resort: Driving from Panama City is not as hard as so many people make it sound. It takes 5 hours from PTY to arrive to our our resort. If you enjoy the adventurous side of travel, have driven in other countries and are familiar with using Google Maps, you should arrive here without much trouble. There a lot of smart travel rules to follow when driving in other countries but here are a few words of advice that you might find useful:

  • Avoid driving at night
  • Avoid driving during PTY rush hours: 6am-9:30am and 3pm-6pm
  • Download your map prior to arrival and departure so you know your app will work while you are driving in addition, to have a real paper map as a backup in case your phone fails you.
  • 4WD is always recommended if you wish to get off any of the main roads and explore. The roads tend to be steep and unmaintained. So, we definitely recommend exploring this beautiful country but keep in mind you will definitely need 4WD to do that.
  • Ensure you have the proper documentation in case of a police checkpoint. The cops here do not require a "reasonable cause" to pull you over or ask for identification so always have it on you and readily accessible:
    • valid drivers license​ (foreign license is only valid for 90 days from the date of your entrance stamp).
    • passport with immigration stamp (everyone in the vehicle should have this quickly accessible). Tourist visas are valid for 180 days so ensure you get a stamp at immigration as this is frequently verified at checkpoints.
    • valid proof of insurance with current year and expiration date listed
    • valid vehicle registration
    • always know where your spare tire, jack, and tools for changing a tire.
    • know how to call emergency services in case of an accident
    • keep us aware of your progress so we know when to expect you and when to worry or send the authorities to search for you in case of an emergency. It's always good to send us a text via WhatsApp only: (507) 6017-0965 when:
      • you leave PTY​
      • you leave the Panamerican Hwy
      • you leave Atalaya
      • you leave Mariato
      • finally Torio
    • It's a good idea to verify with your home country if there is an embassy located here for you to call on in case of an emergency and also to verify your ability to drive in Panama.
  • There are several great places to eat along the way so let us know if you want any recommendations. Any further questions, please email us any time: info@morrillobeachresort.com
  • Finally, the last 100m to our hotel is very steep. It is not required to have 4WD to arrive here. If you only have 2WD you can leave your vehicle at the top of the hill and we can come get you and your luggage, no problem.
  • Driving Route From The Bridge of The Americas to Morrillo Beach Eco Resort:




Travel Insurance:


We get a lot of questions about travel insurance. We highly recommend World Nomads travel insurance, you can click here to get a quote.




Health, Wellness, and Safety:


People often ask us about vaccines and immunizations prior to travel: Here is a link to the CDC for recommended immunizations and shots: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/panama These precautionary measures are totally up to the individual. It is very rare to get sick here from these diseases but of course, there is always some risk. Water: The water is safe to drink everywhere except islands. So enjoy the water and cold ice in your cocktails! To avoid unnecessary plastic waste, please remember to bring your water bottle to fill up. For COVID-19 related travels.




Emergency Contact Information:


Emergency Contact Details: * This is important for every person in your party to have with them. In Spanish as well if needed. Beforeyou go:

  • Travel Insurance. Here is a recommendation but you may want to research others:
    • World Nomads ​
  • Write down all your personal contact #'s and make sure each person has those details as well.
Panama City (area code 507):​
  • Panama City Emergency System is 911
  • National Police 104
  • Fire 103
  • Tourist Police 511-9260
  • Civil Defense 512-6190 or 316-3200
  • Crime Victim Assistance 262-1973 or 512-2222
  • National Tourism Authority Hotline: 178
  • 24 Hour AeroNaval 998-2494
In our Resort Area (area code 507):
  • Emergency 103
  • Fire Department 103 or 998-4444
  • Police direct 999-8663
  • Clinic in Mariato 999-8409
  • Naval or National Air Service 520-6200 (Santiago) or 998-2494 (24hr)




Important Travel Safety Tips:


Important Travel Safety Tips: Panamanians are incredibly kind, nice, and helpful people. That said, bad people are everywhere in this world so, when traveling somewhere new, there are some basic travel rules to follow to keep yourself and your family safe. Here are some helpful tips to consider:

  • Avoid traveling at night
  • Understand and avoid the dangerous parts of the city or wherever you are staying. ​​
    • avoid the casino areas at night, there is always trouble in those types of places
    • ask your hotel concierge, a trusty local for help with this information, or hire a guide or a driver to keep you safe (we can help you with this).
  • Keep your eyes on your personal belongings, keep them close to you, and well secured (zippers, pockets). Secure it to your body and in an obvious way so nobody will even think of grabbing it.
  • Self defense basics are good to know and even carry mace or an emergency whistle, etc. to protect you from people, or animals, you never know! Sometimes if you are out on a run, local dogs might give chase and a whistle or mace will likely scare them off.
  • Know where you are going, read reviews, and research so you know how to get there and what to expect. Share your itinerary with friends and family and check-in with them regularly so they don't worry! Keep it discreet on social media as it can lead people to you that you may not want.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and always know where you are in reference to where you are staying so you, andeveryone you are with, know how to get back there safely. For kids; write it down for them or have your hotel write it for them in Spanish and English.
  • Be discreet: know what the common dress is where you will be and try to blend in so you don't become a target or stand out.
  • Use the do not disturb sign on your hotel room so it appears as though you are in the room. Portable door jammers are small and easy to travel with for added security.
  • For transportation, use UBER or our shuttle services for accountability and track-ability. Know what things cost and carry small bills to make it easy.
  • Carry small bills to make transactions easy and quick especially for cabs and crafts. Know what things should cost to avoid getting hustled and in an awkward position.
  • Make copies of your passport and also email them to you and your family/friends who have your itinerary so you can access them if needed.
  • Email yourself the phone #'s (NOT the card #'s) of all your credit card companies so you can call them in case of an emergency, lost/stolen card. Also, notify them and your bank of your travel.
  • Pack a travel first aid kit in a waterproof pouch. Think of what else you personally need to add to it for things like allergies, etc.
  • Be aware of the environment and avoid too much exposure ie: rain, sun, cold.
  • Bring your resuable water bottle to fill and stay hydrated. The water is safe to drink everywhere except islands.
In Panama it is mostly crimes of opportunity, if you are aware, look aware, stay out of the city ghettos, and you keep your items close to you, it is not likely you will experience any troubles. That said, don't be too guarded and miss out on meeting interesting people and the culture but trust your instincts.




Packing List


Packing List

One of the many great things about Panama is the warm climate, and the warm water. The sun is always strong here with UV ratings regularly high to extreme so sun protection is something to constantly be aware of to avoid a painful burn. Long sleeves and pants are always recommended for sun and bug protection. We want your experience here to be amazing so we have created this list to help you be as prepared as possible:

**Please Remember your reusable water bottle to avoid plastic waste**

Personal Health & COVID-19

  • Personal Prescriptions (insulin, inhaler, epi-pen, antihistamine, decongestant, pain reliever, mild laxative, mild sleep aid, etc.)

  • Hand Sanitizer for each traveler in small pocket sizes (keep it in your pockets) and refill bottle

  • Double layer mask – 2 per person

  • Digital thermometer

  • Disposable gloves

  • Travelers diarrhea antibiotic

  • Glasses and contacts

  • Condoms

  • Ear Plugs

  • Antifungal cream

  • Medical alert bracelet or necklace if used

  • Rash guard and tights for sun protection when surfing or snorkeling

Clothing

  • Lightweight long sleeve shirt and pants for sun and bug protection

  • Shorts and short sleeve shirts (both quick dry and soft cotton)

  • Bathing suits

  • Rash guard and tights for sun protection when surfing or snorkeling

  • When in the city, it is casual but customary for Men to wear long pants, collared shirts, and shoes rather than sandals. Women typically wear skirts, dresses, and blouses. Jeans are OK too. Not everyone follows these rules but you might find that you are more socially comfortable if you follow the custom.

  • Public transportation ie; busses, can be really cold so a light sweater is recommended

  • The more obvious: underwear, socks, t-shirts,

  • Women find a sarong is really useful

Gear

  • Sunscreen, lotion, lip balm, aloe gel (for sunburn),

  • Bug repellant

  • Camera extra battery if necessary

  • Bring a USB with a good amount of storage if you want us to share adventure photos with you.

  • A waterproof bag for your phone and/or camera and valuables for use while hiking, on the beach, or on a boat.

  • Small backpack for use when going on day excursions. A hydration pack for carrying water is really useful.

  • Headlamp & batteries (maybe an extra as well because we often lose power here)

  • Rain Gear is a good idea when out fishing or hiking at higher altitudes otherwise, its best just to wear quick-drying clothes and dry out when the rain stops because it is warm when it rains here.

  • Travel umbrella for rain and sun protection

  • Hat full brim hat for sun protection especially for being on the boat or a ball cap at least

  • Sun protection for the neck if out hiking or on a boat all day

  • Good books for reading

  • Toothbrush, dental floss, toothpaste,

  • Hair brush, hair ties

  • Sunglasses and an extra pair

  • Spanish Phrasebook to help communicate

  • Reusable water bottle to avoid plastic waste

  • High Quality Binoculars

  • Passport and Drivers License

  • Guidebooks for what you enjoy looking at and for children to learn: birds, mammals, butterflies etc.

  • Collapsible fishing pole to take advantage of the great fishing in the estuary and also the rocks along the shore

  • Kids really like to wear goggles when swimming in the estuary and the surf

  • Travel first-aid kit is always nice to have with bandages, tape, Benadryl, antiseptic, painkillers, gauze, sterile dressings, tweezers, scissors, thermometer, antihistamines, sunburn treatment, insect repellant, insect bite treatment, medications for pre-existing conditions, condoms, rubber gloves, anti-diarrhea meds, indigestion/nausea meds like Pepto-Bismol, allergy medications, hydrocortisone cream, temporary suture kit, etc.

Footwear

  • Sandals: flip flops for ease but if you want to go for a walk in sandals, it is recommended to wear a Chaco or Keen type sandal for better support and comfort

  • Shoes: running/tennis shoes work well here and can be used on waterfall hikes if you don’t have good solid sandals like a Chaco or Keen

  • Shoes or nice sandals for the city

If the unfortunate happens and the airlines loses your luggage it can be devastating to your trip. However, with some helpful tips and a little more effort on your part you can make the recovery faster and/or get reimbursed more easily by the airlines in case it never gets recovere. Here are some ideas to help you:

  • Packing and Luggage Best Practices - It can be pretty devastating when the airlines loses your luggage or even worse - damages your surfboard. It's pretty rare but just in case, here are some helpful tips to help in this situation:
    • Lay out all the items in your luggage and take a photo for inventory just in case it gets lost for good by the airlines. This will speed up the reimbursement process by the airlines just in case.
    • Take a photo of your surf boards and the serial #'s on the boards.
    • Keep track of your baggage tags and also take a picture of them just in case they get lost or damaged.
    • Make sure your luggage has your contact information on an exterior luggage tag that's easy to read and also attach one inside the bag in case the tag on the outside gets lost, ripped off, etc.
    • Make your luggage look different from all the others out there. Most people have black roller luggage and can mistakenly take the wrong one, using a personal identifier that is obvious will help alleviate this problem.
      • Think bedazzler
      • Stickers
      • Colorful tags
      • Paint something cool with a stencil
      • Tracking device that be used with an app on your phone (remember you will need to ensure you have data to use your phone while traveling)
      • luggage belt/strap
      • Colored/patterned duct tape
    • Make sure you know how much luggage is included free of charge with the purchase of your ticket and also the weight limitations so you don't have to pack / unpack when you get to the ticket counter.
    • Again, take a photo of your luggage and its contents in case you need to send it to the airlines to make it easier for them to find it in the event it gets lost.

Finally, a great attitude to experience a new country, a new culture, new food, and some great adventure! We are SUPER excited to see and meet you and if you have any questions or concerns at all, please let us know. We want you to have an amazing trip!