Famous Panama Straw Hats

The Panama Straw hats have always been manufactured in Ecuador. They are hand made using the best golden toquilla.

Hand Made Panama Hats


panama straw hats from ecuador

This is Ecuador's most famous export and this natty piece of head wear with an identity crisis has been woven in the southern sierra (highlands) and on the coast of this country for more than a century.

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Panama Hats History

The confusion over the origin dates back to the sixteen century, after the Spaniards took possession of the Isthmus of Panama, they heard about the richness of the South.

It is then that they decided to expand their conquest. Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro reached the lands of present-day Ecuador in 1526, and in 1534 they founded the Royal Audience of Quito.

Later on, these Panama hats were sent abroad through the Panama Channel, thus receiving this name. However, they were originated on the Ecuadorian coast, specifically in the small town of "Montecristi" in the province of Manabi.

Archaeological discoveries of ceramic figurines wearing strange hats have been made on the Ecuadorian coasts.

Legend tells that the Spaniards discovered a strange headgear that some of the South American natives wore, and they thought that this translucent material was vampire skin.

In the mid-19th century gold seekers from the east coast of the US heading for the California gold rush picked up the Panama straw hats on their way out west.

Fifty years later, workers on the Panama Canal found them as ideal protection against the tropical sun and, like the forty-niners before them, named them after the point of purchases rather than their place of origin. And the name stuck.

Also you can find these wonderful hats in the colonial City of Cuenca these are Panama straw hats of the highest quality.

The genuine article should hold water as surely as a glass and, when rolled up, should be slim enough to pass through a wedding ring.

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Panama Straw Hats Manufacturing and Quality

The process begins with nature as everything in its last instance, in golden toquilla plantations. Then the straw is cooked in big bowls.

Afterwards, artisans work to fabricate the fiber, and finally, fine weavers braid the hats, purses and baskets that are not necessarily expensive, yet valuable for their usage and artistic origin.

To measure the quality of Panama hats, you must observe the fineness of the weave and the number of rows on the hat's crown.

Depending on how fine the Ecuador hat is, the price can vary from about $10 dollars to approximately $3,000 dollars!.

Some exported hats are sold abroad at even more expensive prices, since most foreigners value handcrafts more than Ecuadorians.

Read the following review written by Brent Black, journalist writer:

It is unimaginable to me that this hat was crafted by human hands.

With my reading glasses on, placed under a strong light, I admire row after row the tiny, even, overlapping threads of straw.

The color is that of old, well carved ivory. Hold it to the light and it glows, seemingly translucent.

"Panama straw hats are truly a work of art".

Next time you visit Ecuador, purchase one of these quality handcrafted hats as a valuable souvenir from this country.

Recommended Reading

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides). Click to order from Amazon

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)

With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading!

There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.


Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands. Click to order from Amazon

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers.

Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!


Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in.

Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!


Moon Spotlight Galapagos. Click to order from Amazon

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands

If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier.

But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you.

Small, well-priced, and reliable!


Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire. Click to order from Amazon

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire

The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table.

This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!


See More About Ecuador

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Find Economic Galapagos Tours

If you have questions about the Panama Straw Hats, You can post them on our Ecuador FAQ Page and if you'd like to request more information about our exciting Amazon Jungle Tours or from our adventure Galapagos Land Tours to visit these Islands, You are welcome to Contact us here

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