We decided to visit Sirenas de Santa Clara… without a car!
At first, we were kind of skeptical and were looking to rent a car, but to be honest, we were going to stay 3 days, barely use the car while we were there and on top of that car rental companies do not take back cars on Sunday afternoons, so we would have to turn it back on Monday and pay an extra day for no particular reason.
So we decided to book the cabin, uber it to the Albrook Terminal and take a ‘chiva’ from Panama City to Santa Clara.
WARNING: When you get to the terminal everyone will try to sell you a ticket, do not buy it at the first stand you stop by!
Why? Some of the buses are heading to Chiriquí or Costa Rica and even they will take you there, you will be waiting for the departure which happens every hour.
What you want to do is find the stands that say ‘Coronado’, ‘Chame’,’El Valle’ or ‘San Carlos’, which take off every 15 min.
Keep in mind that to get to the buses you will have to pass a checkpoint where you have to scan a Metro Bus card if you don’t have one you can ask the person who is selling you the ticket to help you get there.
I recommend you to buy an initial ticket to Coronado, stop at the Machetazo that’s in Coronado and shop whatever you need for your trip there, from Coronado you can easily take another bus to Santa Clara. It may sound like a lot, but I assume you want your ice to make it all the way to the beach.
At Machetazo you can ask one of the kids helping you bag your groceries to take your shopping bags to the bus stop, they will do it for one or two bucks.
Pro tip: Stop by Don Lee and get some sui-mai and hakao to bite while you shop.
From Coronado you can take another ‘chiva’ to Santa Clara, if you don’t know your way around, just let the driver or the ‘pavo’ (turkey in english aka bus copilot) that you’re looking to stay in Santa Clara’s entrance, once you get you will need a taxi, it can be a while for one to arrive so it would be better if you arrange one to get you, Sirenas staff will 100% help you get a quick cab, just WhatsApp them and let them know you’re on the way (+507 6973-7567).
If you’re not particularly adventurous this may sound like a hassle but in this way, you will be spending around $14 per person, both ways, so even if you have 4 people going you will spend $56, instead of the car rental, car rental insurance, and the extra day they charge you for not being able to give back the car on Sunday.
So comparing $195 of the car rental vs $56 by using public transportation, I choose public transportation!
To get back, you can ask the staff to hail you a cab to get to the main road, and since you won’t have to grocery shop on the way back, you can head straight to la City.
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Here are some pictures of the trip for you to enjoy.