(Panama Gringo) In my explorations of Panama I often find myself on long bus rides in search of the “best” things the country has to offer. Although this often pays off, sometimes you forget to look in your own backyard for beautiful and interesting things. For a nice, easy and very rewarding hike I had to look no further than Taboga Island, just a short and cheap boat ride from the city. While I had been to this island many times before mostly just to drink cheap beers on the beach and escape the heat of the city for awhile, not until a recent journey had I truly explored all this wonderful island has to offer. While there are at least 3 different trails I know of starting from different parts of the colorful, little fishing village, one in particular that anyone who visits Panama City absolutely must see is called Sendero Las Tres Cruces. The trail begins by the old white church in the center of the village and slowly winds up the large hill overlooking the city. While this isn’t an extremely long hike the terrain can be quite slippery and difficult to navigate, especially after it rains, so be ready to get dirty! For the average joe, who hikes every once in awhile, the hike shouldn’t take more than an hour to get to the top. After crossing a few streams and crawling up some muddy slopes you will reach the “Tres Cruces” or three crosses. From the crosses you will find another path that leads out to an old road which is an easy walk to the summit of the peak. Go left when you get to the fork in the road (to the right leads to an old Satellite station) and you will arrive at an old military bunker most likely from the WWII era. Climb up the stairs to the roof and from their you will have one of the most spectacular 360 degree views that your eyes have ever been a part of. From the city skyline in the distance, to the gorgeous blue green water dotted by many small islands and literally hundreds of tankers waiting to enter the Panama canal the place will make time stand still. A perfect spot for a picnic or a cerveza, once you have spent the amount of time necessary to truly appreciate this place’s greatness follow the road down. Instead of turning off the road back into the jungle with the “three crosses” continue down the road and it will eventually weave its way back to the town. An easier walk on the road than the trail but an extra half hour of time is required for this longer route to return. Once you arrive back in the town and head to the beach you will feel a great sense of accomplishment and have a completely new perspective on this awesome little island. The Ferry to Taboga costs $12 round trip and leaves at 8:30am on weekdays, and 8:00am/10:30am on weekends. It returns at 3:00pm or 5:00pm and there are a few cheap hotels to stay at on the island.