By Maelle Denoule
For the past 10 years, tourism in Panama has grown considerably, attracting more and more visitors around the world for its canal, but also for its marvelous environment. Located in Central America between Costa Rica and Colombia, and bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea and on the south by the Pacific Ocean, the isthmus is a land bridge for an important number of mammals and bird’s species.
Nevertheless, the number of travelers to Panama is still relatively small compared with Costa Rica. But contrary to his neighbor, Panama still have plenty of treasures under-explored to discover. In fact, due to its unique geographical position, Panama provides paradisiac places, a variety of landscapes and an incredible biodiversity which offer travelers, an access to incredible adventures and sustainable experiences.
Home of an amazing ecosystem, Panama gives you the opportunity to discover a rich culture and unique nature. Our 10 best things to do in Panama:
Encounters with an indigenous community
With 7 indigenous communities around the country, Panama offers you the unique opportunity to share a cultural experience. Their traditional lifestyle and their close relationship with nature will impact your life forever.
This authentic experience that everyone should live once in Panama, contributes at the same time to the conservation of these communities and their culture.
See the pygmy three-toed sloth in Escudo Island
Another reason why Panama should be your next destination is to see the pygmy three-toed sloth, also known as the monk sloth or dwarf sloth. This sloth can only be found in only one place in the world: National park Escudo Island, a small island off the coast of Panama, situated in the province of Veraguas.
With no official permanent residents on the island, you can have the incredible chance to see lots of them, but it remains very important to not feed them. Indeed, wild animals who depend on people for food can cause injuries or spread disease, but also increase the chances of fighting and injury among animals.
Snorkel or scuba dive in Gulf of Chiriqui
Humpback whales, sea turtles, dolphins, manta rays, orcas, whale sharks, tiger sharks, and many more marine mammals and animals can be seen while swimming there. With around 760 species of fish, the Gulf of Chiriqui is becoming one of the favorite places for scuba divers and snorkelers in Panama.
Panama Canal Transit
Impossible to miss one of the world’s greatest human-made marvels, the Panama Canal. To learn about this fantastic engineering, nothing better than experience a transit. During the transit aboard the Pacific Queen, enjoy the splendorous Bay of Panama and pass by the Miraflores Locks where you can watch the locks operate. Discover at the same time its history while following the most enormous cargos and cruise ships of the world!
Volcan Baru’s summit
Located in the highlands of Chiriquí, the impressive Baru Volcano’s worth the detour. Down from its 3 474 meters, this dormant volcano is the highest mountain of Panama and one of the only places in the world from where you can see at the same time, the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Apart from the breath-taking panoramic views at the top of the volcano, this one is also surrounded by lush jungle, offering the chance, during your summit, to see different birds of Central America, and if you’re lucky, the resplendent quetzal. Adrenaline guaranteed for this extremely challenging trail.
Visit a coffee plantation in Boquete
Did you know the country is world famous for the Geisha Coffee? Actually, one of the rarest and most expensive coffees in the world comes from Panama. So, if you love coffee, Boquete must be one of the stops of your itinerary. Thanks to the volcanic ash situated in the soil of the region, local farms have found the best place for the coffee to grow up and make it so special. Visit one of the coffee plantations and learn about its process. There, you will maybe have the privilege to taste one of the most exquisite coffee in the world!
Surf in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean
Although, if the Caribbean Sea or Pacific Coast is famed for its relaxing long white sand beaches with palm trees, it’s also the best place to surf and have fun with the waves. Unlike Costa Rica, Panama is still virgin and only a few people know about Panama’s surfing potential. El Palmar, Santa Catalina, Playa Vaneo, and many other beaches can provide you the best surfing spots of Central America. Surfers? You will love it!
Try on traditional Panamanian clothing: the Pollera
Panama is also the land of a rich culture. To not lose a crumb of Panama, we invite you to discover in Pedasi, the traditional Panamanian clothing: the Pollera. National dress of Panama worn by women for festivals or celebrations is also one of the most admired national costumes of the Americas. Handmade and very colorful, this traditional dress with Spanish colonial influences is the pride of all Panamanians. Men are well, have their own traditional costume they wear during festivities. Why not try it on to make you feel, for a moment, like a real Panamanian?!
Whale watching while migration season
Have you always dreamt to see whales? It is possible in Panama! In fact, humpback whales come to Panama every year, between July and October, to migrate and give birth, making the isthmus, one of the few places in the planet where you can see these majestic mammals. Many species of whales and dolphins can be found in Panama’s water during that period of the year, especially in the archipelago of the Pearl Islands, on the Pacific Coast.
Taste 5 typical dishes of Panama
Even if Panama is not known internationally for its cuisine, the food is however very tasty and diverse. Made with local and fresh ingredients, Panamanian cuisine is a mix of traditional cooking methods from diverse regions of Panama. Consequently, it’s very common to find dishes made from coconut, seafood, root vegetables, and tropical fruits along the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, but also root vegetables, starchy fruits, livestock, chicken, beans and rice, eaten everywhere in the country. Enough ingredients to make a variety of delicious typical Panamanian dishes.
There’s another side to Panama, just beyond the Panama Canal — dense biodiverse ecosystems like rainforests and islands. Sip pure coffee and enjoy amazing rivers and vibrant ingenious cultures. Let go of control and give Panama the wheel.
Despite its small size, Panama is one of the most biodiverse places in the world with more plant species than in all of Europe. In vast contrast to the modern lifestyle of Panama City, large parts of the countryside are to a large extent still undeveloped. Deep in the rainforests, hidden in the highlands and cast-away on tiny little islands, there are unique cultures in Panama, who keep their traditions and customs and some living in autonomous regions. On our academic programs you will dive into our cultures and explore our amazing Isthmus.
EcoCircuitos Tour Operator has been conducting academic travel programs in Panama since 2003 promoting Adventure, Conservation and Education with different international partners as Hannover College, who visited recently to learn about Panamanian music, folk craft, dance as they meet with artisans working to preserve the local culture in Guararé, Panamá.
The variety of outdoor and cultural activities provides endless possibilities to experience academic programs in panama. Nature lovers will find challenges on the various trails winding through mountains, rain forests, and indigenous communities. The spectacular coastline support an underwater ecology and a diverse landscape. While our unique cultural heritage will transport to ancient times. The most cosmopolitan capital in Central America will offer you a wide variety of attractions and the unique colonial neighborhood Casco Viejo.
For more information on our academic programs, please contact Annie Young at email@example.com
Do you know that COPA Stopover program allows travellers to visit two destinations for the price of flying to one? YES!! No more layover and have a stopover in Panama!
Instead of waiting in an uncomfortable chair and eating airport food, take advantage of the COPA stopover and discover the new and trendy destination in Central America: Panama.
If you are traveling to Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico or any other destination with COPA, you can book a stopover flight and stay 3 days in Panama and explore a new destination for a very little cost.
If you visit Panama for a few days you must stay in Casco Viejo hotels and experience the beauty of our colonial town. We offer several special deals in the green season that will combine stays in chic hotels and amazing experiences.
Some of my favorite things to do in Panama City:
1. Visit Seafood market and walk or bike Cinta Costera towards the Casco Antiguo neighborhood while eating a fresh seafood ceviche.
2. Take a tour of the Biodiversity Museum and Causeway and hire one of our naturalist guides for an introductory rainforest tour in the Metropolitan Park.
3. Bar hopping in Casco Viejo at night and don´t miss the Jazz Bar in the American Trade Hotel.
4. Go on a birding adventure tour– Panama is a paradise for birders and home for more than 1005 different bird species. Within city limits, there are several spots ideal for birding where you can find specialties: Panama Flycatcher, Southern Bentbill, Rufescent-Tiger-Heron and Yellow-tailed Oriole.
5. Kayaking the Panama Canal in the Gatun Lake and a visit to a local Wounaan community for handcrafts shopping.
6. Visit the Contemporary Art Museum and take an Art Cultural Tour with a local Panamanian artist.
7. Hike, bike or wildlife observation at one of the many trails of the Soberania National Park.
8. Go on a historical trekking in the old 8-mile Camino de Cruces Trail that takes you through the primarily tropical forest.
9. Ride the Transcontinental train towards the Atlantic side in one day: The Pirate trail and the Panama Canal.
10. Enjoy the local gastronomy (tasajo empanada, carimañola, tortilla, yuca frita, and the seafood of Panama).
An unforgettable wildlife experience. Panama has not only abundance of fish but birds, reptiles, mammals and over 10,000 species of plants. On board, an expedition boat adjusts for only Photographic tours you will experience an amazing adventure where you will learn to use advanced camera equipment and return home with stunning photos. You will explore inlets and islands on this amazing adventure. For 4 people maximum.
EcoCircuitos Panama photo Expedition tour and adventures are specialized for photographers of all ability levels. From day tour Jungle boat expedition to multi-day photo safari, and more, our focus is on helping you take exceptional pictures of nature, local people and unique sceneries. Each journey is led by amazing naturalist guides specialize in the neotropical nature and by nature photographer. All our photography trips feature small groups to guarantee the best access and flexibility for amazing photo opportunities.
Take home amazing pictures of Panama’s rainforest and its inhabitants with a photography Jungle boat tour in Gatun Lake. We will be offering the equipment on board our vessel and our naturalist guide will lead you along the Lake and through diverse wildlife habitats. Capture all the details of incredible animals like crocodiles, birds, snakes, monkeys, sloths, and butterflies, plus delicate orchids and other tropical flora. This tour is for professionals and amateurs.
For more information on our day tour or multi-adventure photography expeditions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite its small size, Panama is one of the most biodiverse places in the world with more plant species than in all of Europe. Our academic tours gives you in-depth insights of the natural history and biodiversity of Panama by visiting tropical rainforests, cloud forests, wetlands, mangrove forests and volcanic mountain ranges.
EcoCircuitos Panama is an qualified, in-country partner for high schools, middle schools, and academic travel groups that want to provide a unique and authentic worldwide travel experience for their students. Our office team and naturalist and history guides will work side-by-side with teachers, student leaders, high schools and universities to plan, organize, and lead student adventure programs through Panama.
EcoCircuitos Panama has been running Academic and Adventure travel since 2003 and we have the the experience, valuable relationships with the best partners in town. We offer local knowledge and expertise on how to discover the Isthmus that changed the world.
Our Motto: Adventure, Conservation and Education!