Austin Hess 2020-12-14 10:21:04
Panama is a very small country with a total area of 75,517 square kilometers (29,157 square miles), which makes it slightly smaller than Ireland and the U.S. state of South Carolina.
A country with yearlong summer temperatures and tons of outdoor adventures. Yes, there are only two seasons in Panama, the Dry Season that runs from January through April and the Green Season that runs from May to December, making Panama a great place to travel too all year long.
Now, what makes this Country so great for pandemic travels and adventures? First thing that comes to mind is when beach combing, it is highly unlikely that you will see another person and if you do, there is still so much distancing there is no chance to come into contact with others, unless you want to, of course!!! Second, is the spacious accommodations, with over 90% of the hotels, lodges and small inns outside the city having less than 20 rooms each, and most the time you will find individual cabins and bungalows, perfect for social distancing and privacy. Known for its vast diversity and adventurous activities.
Panamá is a nature lovers’ playground with beautiful mountain towns such as Boquete and El Valle de Antón that are great for hiking, waterfall chasing, bird watching, coffee tours, zip lining, white water rafting amongst many other fun outdoor activities.
Boquete is among the top tourist destination in Panama and is a place full of great restaurants and hotels with a cool mountain climate. To get there from the city is either a 45-minute flight to David + a 45-minute drive (in a rental car) or you can drive from Panama City to Boquete in 5.5 - 7 hours, depending on your driving style and how many stops you make. Another highlight of this region is Volcan Barú, the highest mountain in Panama and one of only 3 known places in the World where you can see both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans from the top (the other two are also in Panama).
El Valle is also a great option for a mountain town setting, it is not as large as Boquete yet, but it has just as much beauty, and it is much closer to the city at just over 2 hours driving time from Panama City. The most famous hike and my favorite part of El Valle is the Sleeping Indian. From town looking up towards the top of the crater you will see what appears to be a person sleeping shaped out of the rolling mountain tops.
Are you looking for some fun in the sun? With more than 500 islands spread across 4 main archipelagos that in themselves offer extremely different settings.
Closest to Panama City, we will start with the Pearl Islands which lie only 33 nautical miles from the city and can be reached via a short 15-minute flight with Air Panama, a 90-minute ferry ride with Sea Las Perlas or a private yacht or fishing charter, which I have to mention are incredibly reasonable in price, especially for a small group of friends. These islands are known as the Hawaii of Panama with crystal-clear waters and amazing white sand beaches.
A great place to enjoy deep sea fishing, stand-up padding, kayaking, bird watching, island hopping, snorkeling, whale watching (in season) and, of course, relaxing in the sun with a cold beverage of two. Lastly, it should be noted that in these islands many series of the reality show “Survivor” and other similar shows have been filmed here.
The San Blas (Guna Yala) archipelago make up more than 50% of all the islands in Panama. These unique islands located on the Caribbean side of Panama offer incredible culture from the local Guna indigenous that manage this providence. These islands are not to be missed and for most this is a life changing experience.
To get to San Blas you need to book with a tour company. The drive in a 4-wheel drive vehicle will take you from Panama City over the mountain range in about 3 hours to the small port of Cartí where you will then board a panga (traditional boat) and head out to one of these magical islands. In these islands they offer rugged cabins, camping or if you are really looking for adventure, a simple hammock can be rented. If you are more of a luxurious person, booking a few nights or a week on-board a private catamaran is quite the treat. I highly recommend Zenith Advantage (on Facebook).
The next archipelago we will visit in this article is located on the Pacific side of Panama, and specifically we will focus on the famous Coiba Island. To get Coiba you must first travel to Santa Catalina, which is a world-renowned surfing town (Are you a surfer? We will put out an article about surfing in Panama soon). You can also access Coiba Island from Boca Chica or Las Lajas, however, the run out the Island is much further by boat.
Coiba Island is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known to be one of the top places in the world for scuba diving. This is the largest island, not only in Panama, but in all of Central America and offers a great setting for eco-travelers. If you are into fishing this is one of the best places in Panama to catch a huge fish as well.
The last archipelago we will visit today is by far the most popular tourist destination in the country, Bocas del Toro. This archipelago is known for awesome adventures such as 4-wheeling through the jungle, unique day tours that take you to see dolphins, sloths, monkeys and other awesome creatures such as the poisonous red frog, and much more.
In the main town on Colon Island, you will find great restaurants, hotels, hostels and before COVID-19 times, this was a place to party like a Rockstar.
All and all Panama has something for everyone, and I could go forever with amazing destinations to visit within this small country, yet I will leave you with the above information to get you started on traveling to the famous Hub of the Americas. With these trying times we are living in, it seems like most are looking for beautiful natural destinations and truth be told, Panama should be at the top of your list!!!
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