Panama with Andrea and Kyle
Andrea and Kyle spent three weeks in a little slice of paradise for their honeymoon.
A mix of adventure, chill and volunteer work made up their time in Panama, and we must say, we are so impressed with their organising skills.. you two should be travel agents, we think you have missed your calling in life!
Panama might not be on the top of everyone’s travel list but after reading all about Andrea and Kyle’s honeymoon adventures, it is officially one of the top destinations on my list!
Get ready to fall in love with Panama…
(Below images from Andrea + Kyle’s wedding day in Durban, captured by Michigan Behn)
Hooray: Where did you go on your honeymoon?
A + K: Panama, Central America.
Hooray: How difficult was it coming to the decision of where to go on honeymoon?
A + K: VERY difficult! We considered all of the amazing Caribbean and Central American countries but also wanted a country that was a little less travelled. We finally narrowed it down to our top 3 countries and then Panama eventually came out on top.
Hooray: Whose choice was it? Or was it a surprise?
Andrea: It was a mutual decision – we both had non-negotiables for the trip and so we worked around those. Kyle wanted to see Sloths (his lifelong dream and favourite animal – they are both so chill) and I wanted warm, beautiful beaches (Durban girl living in Ireland wanting any opportunity to chase the sun and waves).
Hooray: SLOTHS! How adorable are those little guys… tell us a bit more about the rehab centre.
A + K: APPC rescues and rehabilitates sick, injured and orphaned animals, providing long-term care for those who need it. Through education, the APPC promotes environmental awareness and the community’s role in protecting wildlife and through the rescue and release of wild animals, they aim to increase the genetic diversity of populations that are vulnerable, endangered or facing extinction. The love that the volunteers have for their work but especially the Sloths is unlike any other and we were delighted to have the opportunity to see their work in action.
Hooray: Did you tailor-make your honeymoon yourself or did you use a travel agent?
A + K: We both love to research and plan so it was really rewarding to come up with a personalised trip that was perfect in every way for us. The trip itself was the fruit of our hard work, and the excitement building up was second to none.
Hooray: Any advice for first-time travellers going on honeymoon?
A + K: For first-time travellers, or anyone for that matter, we highly recommend that you: Read. All. Reviews. Always! TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet are amazing resources for almost everything but they shouldn’t be the only sources you consider. We never book anything or anywhere without legit reviews.
Hooray: How long after your wedding did you leave for the honeymoon?
A + K: We went on honeymoon 7 months after our wedding but we had two mini-moons in between, one weekend on the West Coast of Ireland and another weekend on the island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples, Italy.
We would actually strongly encourage couples to consider waiting at least a few days or weeks before they go on a honeymoon. We spent the week after our wedding at home with our friends and family and it was amazing to experience the joy that everyone still had coming off our big day. Also, many of your guests may be from out of town so it is awesome to have some time, one on one, with them before they head off. As every bride will know, you want that wedding joy to last forever, and prolonging your honeymoon does just that – you feel like you’ve just got married all over again, even though it has already been a few weeks or months.
Hooray: We love the idea of the mini-moons. How long did you go to these destinations for?
A + K: We spent 3 nights and 4 days over a long weekend at each destination. It’s a perfect little getaway break with your best friend, that doesn’t have to break the bank but still gives you all the honeymoon feels. (see pictures below of Andrea and Kyle’s mini-moons)
Hooray: Was your honeymoon all you dreamed of and more?
A + K: Completely. Panama exceeded our every expectation and we still talk about how we never thought we would experience a trip like that. With each day that passed, we kept wondering ‘surely it can’t get better than this’, and then it did. Seriously.
Hooray: How long was your honeymoon?
A + K: 3 weeks.
Hooray: You guys seemed to “keep moving” during your honeymoon – tell us more about this.
A + K: When you’re literally travelling halfway around the world, you really want to make the most of your experience. Luckily for us, we enjoy the thrill of adventuring and seeing as much as possible. This is also where a good schedule comes in handy as we covered off most of the things we wanted to see in Panama. Although we kept ourselves our busy, we did, however, have plenty downtime to just chill.
Hooray: If you could give your honeymoon a theme what would it be? Adventure or chill?
A + K: A sustainable adventure. When we planned our wedding, we wanted to create one that was meaningful for ourselves, our guests and our community and we were stoked to have accomplished that. So, when it came to planning our honeymoon, we again wanted it to be one of meaning and purpose. We love being outdoors, we love our earth and her animals, and we love learning and meeting new people. We primarily scheduled our trip around the volunteering activities we did and it all came with so much adventure and just the kindest of people.
Hooray: Please tell us more about the volunteer work you did while on honeymoon.
A + K: A central part to the trip was ensuring we gave back to our (global) community. As ocean souls and animal lovers, we were so stoked to find incredible organisations to support that aligned with our values.
Our first visit was to the Gamboa Sloth Sanctuary – seeing Sloths in the real was a childhood dream of Kyle’s and the experience was out of this world. Lynne, a volunteer of Asociacion Panamericana para la Conservacion (APPC) Sloth Sanctuary, led us through a private day tour of the Sanctuary and the APPC facilities. She introduced us to some very special animals, which included both two-toed and three-toed Sloths, a Tree Anteater, a Tree Porcupine, a Capybara, and rare birds of Panama. All proceeds from this tour go straight to the medicines for the amazing sloths and other animals, who are (where possible) rehabilitated with the sole intention of being released back into the wild.
Sea Turtle Conservation
From Panama City, we rented a car and took a 6-hour drive to a rural part of the Veragus province, where we spent two days volunteering with a sea turtle conservation organization, Fundación Agua y Tierra. We knew that there was a strong chance that we wouldn’t see any turtles but we remained hopeful as we missioned through a 75km dirt road with the most potholes we’ve ever encountered. To our delight, on the day we arrived, four baby Olive Ridley turtles prematurely hatched just that morning, which meant we got to be a part of their release that evening. It was a surreal experience and incredible to witness the hurdles that those little guys face in the first few hours of their life. The baby turtle release was followed by a beach clean-up against the backdrop of the most spectacular sunset. It was a weekend of 3 am night patrols under trillions of stars and hundreds of shooting stars along bioluminescent shores (the sand was literally illuminating underneath us with hundreds of little glowing lights that glistened with each step we took), building duck ponds, levelling grounds, repurposing old washed up trainers into potted plants and painting signs to raise awareness against ocean pollution. Plus, we got to spend time getting to know some very special people who do phenomenal work and who are rockstars at karaoke.
The trip was facilitated through a programme called Adventure Volunteer, who have projects all across Latin America, Asia, Africa and Spain.
Coral Restoration Project
After spending two nights at a sustainable award-winning eco-friendly hostel, Bambuda Lodge, off the island of tourist-central Bocas Del Toro, we went on to do some more volunteering but this time it was underwater! We met up with the lads of the organisation ‘Caribbean Coral Restoration Panama’ and spent the morning snorkelling around the nurseries where coral had been replanted. We cleaned the coral tree branches, rebuilt the trees where necessary, and made sure that all the coral colonies were all intact! It was a very special experience where we got to see the impact these nurseries have on our oceans.
And then we found ourselves in paradise! After nearly 3 weeks in a wonderful country, spending 2 nights in the most authentic and perfectly positioned treehouse in the whole of Panama was one of our best experiences. We barely left our little self-sufficient eco-home in the heart of nature. We were a short stroll from a beautiful little beach and could not hear or see anything else around except the waves rolling and crashing, the wind dancing around the trees to the tunes of the birds and the lizards, and a few howls of the Howler monkeys.
Hooray: The biggest highlight of your honeymoon?
A + K: It is so difficult to choose from seeing the Panama Canal (inaction), to road-tripping across the country, to staying in an incredible self-catering dream Tree House overlooking the ocean, and more. But if we are honest, we both LOVED the Sea Turtle Conservation volunteering and the Sloth Sanctuary visit. Surfing and being on perfect islands and beaches were probably equally our biggest highlight. Oh, and the private bonfire on the beach where our hosts on the San Blas islands had dug out a heart-shaped pit and built a sand table serving fresh lobster for dinner, all littered with candles and against the perfect sunset backdrop.
Andrea and Kyle, thank you so much for sharing your amazing honeymoon with all of our readers today. We wish you many more happy years ahead of sustainable trips, ticking off your bucket list one adventure at a time!