This is a pedestrian path perfect for walking, jogging and small kids on bikes. And, there’s a never-ending dog show of pedigree pooches, particularly in the early morning and afternoons. Weirdly, there’s a surprising amount of huskies – considering the climate! One side of the Paseo Del Mar, or the “malecón” as it is sometimes called (meaning breakwater or esplanade), is lined with high rise apartment buildings that have a great view of the ocean. The other side is thick mangroves through which you usually can’t see much. Here’s what we love about walking on the Paseo Del Mar.
The Walking Paths
If you start from the roundabout on Avenida Centenario, the Paseo Del Mar is about 2.5km each way, 5km in total. Once you get to the ocean, there are two paths. The broader, main path has a kind of wavey patterned concrete surface, fine for walking and running but makes roller-skating pretty impossible! People usually walk, run or push kids on small bikes along this. The other path is narrow and plain concrete, although broken in places. Runners and dog walkers use this. There’s a short section that’s better for roller-skating or inline-skating at the end furthest away from the city of Panama, to the right town center on the map below. Cyclists usually stay on the road and, on a Sunday morning, there is barely any traffic at all. Along the way, near the Lookout Point, there are exercise bars for doing chin-ups etc.
The Lookout Point
This is a good place to stop for breather or to do some exercises. You get a great view of Punta Paitilla. We had a little picnic there once, but it can be extremely smelly! Huge numbers of pelican and cormorants roost in the trees around there, so there tons of rotting fishy bits and bird droppings. You can access the beach here, a huge sandy stretch at low tide. People usually don’t because, sadly, there’s tons of rubbish. A river empties out into the ocean here, see it running out from under the bridge below. It deposits heaps of trash from the city and everything gets washed up here. There are organised beach clean-up days where teams of volunteers meet here, often residents from the huge apartment buildings near by. They get to work with plastic gloves and rubbish bags, sometimes removing up to 10 tons of garbage.
There’s still some wildlife to spot though! We’ve seen – from the safety of the bridge – a fairly large crocodile in this river. Like as a big as me. Gulp.
We usually aim for Patisserie Saint Honore, a little French café, as it’s the furthest point from where we live and has the most delicious coffee. Also, there’s a nice patio to sit outside and they always bring water for the dog. The kids love it because they serve very fancy, delicate little pastries. My daughter actually managed to roller-skate all the way here one day from our house (along the pavements and road, not along the textured concrete of the Paseo Del Mar!) There are loads of other places to get a drink or a snack nearby including Dos Cucharas and Café Anthansiou. If we do this walk in the evening, we usually aim for La Rana Dorada for a beer.
Our other favourite place to stop is Café Leto. We all have our reasons to love this place. There’s great AC so the kids are happy to cool down after a hot walk. My husband loves the freshly roasted Panamanian coffee. I love the vegan pastrami sandwich. My daughter loves the granola bowl. My son loves the indie / rock music. The dog is delighted to be allowed inside (everywhere else we have to sit outside). If we reach here, we’ve already done the whole length of the Paseo Del Mar and back again (5km) and it is always boiling! So, we are all just so happy to not be walking any more that it is like suddenly being in heaven.
Felipe Motta Park
Sometimes we cut back towards home through Felipe Motta Park. Despite this park’s enigmatic opening hours and randomly shut main entrance and car park, you can always get in through the secret entrance behind the apartment building Parkside. You can park on the side of road there too if you are looking to nip in with the dog. You go along about 20 or 30 metres and there is a gap in the fence. It’s a small gap, but big enough for a giant man (like my husband) to get through. Just up the hill you’ll come to a sort of a dog park on the left hand side, a large area planted with a sort of fence of reeds. There’s usually a bunch of dogs running around here playing, particularly in the early morning and evening. If you want to leave the park on the other side but the main entrance is shut, it is easy to climb out there over the wall.
Wearing a mask on the Paseo Del Mar
Nearly 2 years into the pandemic, it is still a requirement in Panama to wear a mask anywhere that is outside your home. We are all sick of it, but literally maybe that’s why we are not so sick with it, as case numbers remain very low here. Anyway, along the Paseo Del Mar, there seems to be an unwritten rule that it’s ok to take it off if you are jogging. Otherwise you might die! Most runners and about half the walkers wear their masks under their chins, or not at all. If unmasked, most try to give other pedestrians a wide berth – looking the other way as they run panting past. I only bestow a cheery “Buenos Dias” and a smiley nod on passers-by if I am wear my mask!
We love the Paseo Del Mar. We’d never do it in the middle of the day, as it’s way to hot, but in the mornings it’s fresh and breezy and if you are up early enough you get a great view of the sunrise from the Lookout Point. And in the evening it’s a lovely walk to the pub!