It’s been fun to watch the evolution of Cabañas Rolo (cell 6598-9925, tel. 998-8600, http://rolocabins.net, cabinasrolo [at] yahoo [dot] com, most rooms US$10 pp). Other surfers’ hangouts come and go, but Rolo just keeps getting bigger, better, and more popular. Most of the rooms are in two motel-style rows near the end of the main road and just up from the beach.
They’re simple but cheerful and clean, cooled only with rotary floor fans and equipped with hammocks to lounge in on the front terrace. There are shared toilets and showers next door. There’s a communal kitchen and a little restaurant that’s open from the morning to 9 P.M.
In 2007 Rolo added a two-story hacienda-style building with two fancier air-conditioned rooms, one on each floor. They both have a double and single bed with okay mattresses, and a front terrace with table. These start at US$40 s/d, US$5 more for a third person. The upstairs room is a “suite” with a terrace for US$50 d.
Keep an eye on the papaya tree next to the terrace. One time when Rolo was showing me around, we stood there and watched an opossum eating a big hole in a ripe papaya that was still hanging from the tree. The critter looked a bit sheepish when we caught him in the act. Note: The landline telephone number reaches the town’s public phone, so if you call that, let it ring a reeeeally long time and ask whoever answers for “Rolo.” Email is the best way to reach him until phone service finally arrives.
The Blue Zone Surf and Dive Hostel (www.bluezonepanama.com, US$13 s, US$26 d) consists of a hive of rooms in a long, funky adobe-style building near the edge of a bluff just above the rocky beach and surf break. Its five fan-cooled rooms are rustic, a bit snug, and have foam beds, but are pleasant enough for the price. The walls are made from cinderblocks and don’t have screens, but the beds have mosquito nets. There are three shared bathrooms, a shared kitchen and dining room, and laundry facilities. It’s located just past and on the same road as Pizzeria Jamming.
The new Boarder’s Haven (cell 6572-0664, starts at US$10 pp) is a tiny surf hostel with three rooms next to and managed by La Buena Vida on the main road. The mattresses are decent and there are hot-water shared bathrooms. The roof is corrugated zinc, so it can get boiling hot in this little place during the day. The best thing about it are the doorways, which are shaped like surfboards. Note that this place is a fair walk to the nearest surf break.
Hotel Costa America (tel. 998-8600, US$22.50 s/d) looks out of place here. It’s a pink, 10-room hotel at the intersection of the main road and the dirt road that leads to the surf camps. It offers air-conditioned rooms with double beds, cold-water bathrooms, and no charm. But the management is nice enough and the rooms are fine if all you want is a bed near the beach. There’s a restaurant and minisuper (convenience store) on the ground floor, both of which are open 7 A.M.–9 P.M. daily.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition