A couple of months have flown by since I returned home from my incredible 6-month Panamanian adventure! I completely fell in love with Panama, not only because it’s “off the beaten track,” but also because it has the most stunning landscapes I have seen in my life. From the long stretches of white sand beaches dotted with dancing palm trees, to the depths of the tropical jungle, Panama has a lot to offer its visitors. Here are some of the most beautiful spots to explore in Panama. I hope it will convince you go book that airplane ticket!
1) BOCAS DEL TORO
Bocas del Toro is located near the border between Panama and Costa Rica and is a beach-lover’s paradise! This is probably my favourite place in all of Panama, as it offers a wide variety of activities and is so lively. The one thing we didn’t do here (which I wish we did) was see the bioluminescent sea at night. Otherwise, during the day, you can set out in search of sloths, monkeys, dolphins, starfish, exotic birds and more. Sip coconuts on the beach, swim in the clear waters, and admire the abundance of animal life surrounding you. The official website for Bocas del Toro with hotel, restaurant, and activities recommendations is here – I used this source a lot!
2) SAN BLAS
Another beautiful place in Panama is the San Blas archipelago. San Blas is essentially a tropical oasis of hundreds of picture perfect islands off the coast of Panama. The archipelago consists of 365 white sand islets with swaying palm trees surrounded by crystal clear sea water. The indigenous Guna community inhabits these islands, and most of them speak their own dialect rather than Spanish. It was an eye-opening and inspiring experience to observe how happy this indigenous community is living simply amidst their beautiful surroundings. I loved this experience so much and would recommend it to anybody who wants a proper Panamanian retreat. Prepare to leave your phone signal behind and to really soak in the beauty of mother nature.
For information on accommodation, activities, restaurants and more in San Blas, visit this useful website.
3) ISLA COIBA
I also fell in love with Isla Coiba in the Veraguas area of Panama. Isla Coiba is definitely difficult to access, but worth it. You’ll have to stay the night in the lovely surfer’s village of Santa Catalina, as there are no hotels on Isla Coiba. The island is an hour boat ride away from Santa Catalina, and on the way you may be lucky enough to see humpback whales and dolphins (we did)! Isla Coiba itself is incredible for snorkelling and, of course, white sandy beaches, coconut trees, and turquoise water. Don’t miss the opportunity to snorkel with so much incredible sea life here including turtles, puffer fish, sharks, and parrot fish.
4) PANAMA CITY AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
The capital, Panama City, is where I was based for the duration of my 6-month Panama internship. The city’s downtown is modern, with tons of impressive skyscrapers creating a sort of striking metal jungle. I recommend walking around the financial district to see the best skyscrapers.
A beautiful oasis, Isla Taboga, is only a 30-minute ferry trip from Panama City and is the perfect quick beach escape. It is dotted with colourful houses, exotic flowers, birds, and seashells. The beaches are marvelous and you can see Panama City’s striking skyline from here.
For some morning exercise, hike up the beautiful Ancon Hill, which provides fantastic views of the city’s skyline. Keep any eye out for wildlife including lots of tropical birds and maybe even some sloths.
Don’t leave Panama City without visiting the Panama Canal. This structure is classified as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. It is fascinating to learn about the lengthy construction process, the politics involved, and the ingenuity behind the design. I would highly recommend going to the Miraflores Locks to watch a ship pass through, and visiting the Panama Canal museum.
5) ISLA CONTADORA
Isla Contadora is one of the renowned Pearl Islands off the Pacific Coast of Panama. It is famous for being an island with holiday homes for many millionaires and billionaires with ocean view mansions and classy yachts. That aside, it is a wonderful island with pristine beaches and wildlife. We were fortunate to get up close and personal with a beautiful family of humpback whales. This was a truly unforgettable experience.
Although I only saw one of the Pearl Islands, I’ve heard that the others are equally amazing. You can find more information about them here.
6) VALLE ANTON
Valle Anton is a town located in central Panama and covered with a thick layer of lush green jungle. Interestingly, the town is situated in the crater of an extinct volcano, surrounded by mountains and cloud forest. While there, you can hike one of the surrounding hills, many of which have trails with ocean views. If you’re looking for a more relaxing activity, spend time unwinding in a waterfall or natural spring, or pay a visit to the El Nispero Zoo and Botanic Garden.
Panama is an underrated country with no shortage of adventure and beautiful scenery. I had the time of my life discovering this country’s vibrant culture, stunning landscape, pristine oceans, and diverse wildlife. I hope you’ll also be inspired to book your flight and discover all the beauty that Panama has to offer!
We hope that this article has inspired you to visit Panama. If you have any questions about the destination please leave these in the comments below.
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We Are Travel Girls Contributor Kate Gale of ThePlacesTheFaces.com
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Hi there. Our group of adults is planning a trip and we love snorkeling, catamarans, wildlife and bird watching, ziplining, cultural sights, renting our own place with a pool and friendly locals. We don’t normally book tours but rent a car to do our sightssing. We have been to Costa Rica before and loved it so just wondering if you’d recommend Panama over Costa Rica for us? We’d be travling in February. And I’m wondering which coastal towns you’d recommend (we don’t like staying in large cities) where there’s a surfer atmosphere and bars on the beach. thanks!