THE ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE TO PANAMA

Panama

I recently had the the opportunity to experience Panama in a week with the Tourism Board of Panama. Panama has more to offer then the Panama Canal and beautiful beaches and you will see what I mean! Panama did not disappoint and guess what? It’s also my first time in Central America!

I explored Bocas del Toro, Boquete and Panama City during the last week of April. I got super lucky and only had rain the last day during the trip, don’t worry the rain does not last very long either. If you plan on visiting Panama, here’s my Ultimate Travel Guide to Panama on where to stay, what to do, best places to eat and which tour companies you need to use!

Things to know before your trip:

  • December – April is dry/high season
  • Most people speak English
  • U.S. dollars and credit cards are widely accepted
  • Uber is super cheap so don’t use a taxi – EVER!
  • I was with a tour guide the entire time and it was very convenient! (List of companies used below)

BOCAS DEL TORO (2 days)

I spent two days in Bocas Del Toro, which is a province in Panama with beautiful islands surrounding the Caribbean Sea. I arrived by plane and was picked up by D’Lujo Tours.

Bocas del Toro

Where to Stay

There are many budget and affordable hotels in the town of Bocas. I stayed at Gran Hotel Bahia. Tropical Suites is a great option and if you’re looking for luxury, I suggest experiencing Punta Caracol for overwater bungalows! We were lucky enough to stop by the hotel for drinks and explore the beautiful property.

What to Do

The first day we explored multiple beaches: Bird Island, Boca Drago, Bluff Beach and my favorite Starfish Beach! There were not too many starfishes close to shore but if you keep walking along the beach you will find them!

 

Starfish Beach

Starfish Beach

The second day at Bocas del Toro we had a full day exploring Cayo Zapatilla, Red Frog Beach and if you’re up for some snorkeling you’re welcome to do so.

Red Frog Beach

Where to Eat

Skully’s – A restaurant right by the beach is always a good idea isn’t it? Especially with good food!

El Ultimo Refugio – Definitely a MUST for dinner! The vibe is awesome and the food was delicious! The menu changes often but everything we ordered was so fresh and tasty! What to order: Tuna tartar, gnocchi, sesame crusted tuna and of course the Passionfruit Merengue Pie!!! You will not regret it!

BOQUETE (1 day)

Boquete is one of my favorites of the trip! A day was really quick so I recommend spending at least two days in Boquete. From Bocas del Toro we took a 20 minute boat ride to Almirante where Christian from Q-tarras Tours picked us up and drove 3 hours to Boquete. A flight can be quick and cheap if you prefer.

Where to Stay

Boquete Tree Trek is a must! The eco-friendly hotel is secluded and hidden in the mountains with tons of things to do! The food at the hotel is also delicious!

Boquete Tree Trek

What to Do

Hanging Bridges Tour – Total of 6 current bridges and 2 more are currently being built. This is my favorite activity at Boquete! We had a private tour with Octavio, our tour guide and he was awesome! Tour can be up to 3 hours, $30 per person.

Coffee Farm Tour – Visit the coffee plantation to learn about the best coffee in Panama! Tour is 4 hours, $30 per person. I did not do the coffee farm tour but I did experience the tasting and it was very good!

Boquete Tree Trek

Canopy Tour (Zip Lining) – 4.5 kilometers in length and divided into 12 cables. Tour is for 4 hours, $65 per person.

Bird Watching Tour – Visit the nature reserve “RÍO CRISTAL”. Located at more than 1700 meters above sea level with over 150 species of birds. Up to 4 hours, $65 per person.

Where to Eat

I ate at the hotel but the food was great! Especially the coffee flan!

Coffee Flan

PANAMA CITY (4 days)

There is so much to do in the city and also plenty to do outside of the city. From Boquete, a flight to Panama City is 40 minutes. I was picked up by Luis. Luis is a tour guide for Adventuras2000 and Panama Royal Adventures. Luis was knowledgable and did a great job catering to us when we needed photos =)

Panama City

Where to Stay

Bristol Hotel and Le Meridien are gorgeous hotels located less than 10 minutes from Casco Viejo by car. It was very close and convenient but if you’ll like to stay in Casco Viejo, American Trade Hotel is beautiful and perfectly located in the center of Casco Viejo.

What to Do

Panama Canal – If you visit Panama you must visit the famous Panama Canal! Go to the viewing deck to watch boats go through the canal. Can you believe the canal is only a little over 100 years old?

Panama Canal

Casco Viejo – Casco Viejo, the historic quarter has cute colorful buildings, churches and lots of bars and restaurants. Lots of shopping so make sure to choose a Panama hat as a souvenir! A cool fact I learned is that these hats actually originated from Ecuador!

Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo

BioMuseo – If you’re like me and love museums, the Bio Museo is a must! You’ll find endless of information on Panama! The design is also gorgeous and designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry.

BioMuseo

Visit to Embera Community – This is worth a day trip if you’re interested in learning about the local tribes/community surrounding the Chagres River. We took a dugout canoe ride and was welcomed by the leader of the Embera Tribe to learn about the community, which currently has over 70 people. They cooked us lunch, showed us their beautiful crafts and we danced with them. =)

Embra Tribe

Anton Valley – Known as El Valle de Anton is a town in the crater of an extinct volcano! How cool is that? Anton Valley is two hours from the city and every Sunday they have a market in the town for some fun shopping. We did a small hike to a waterfall and got a face mask from the volcano mud. YES – it left my skin feeling like a baby!!

Anton Valley

Anton Valley

Where to Eat

Cuquita Cookita – Such a cute cafe with fresh healthy food! We also got to meet the chef who’s a well known in Panama with multiple restaurants and a successful catering business.

Cuquita Cookita

Grapes Restaurant & Bar – If President Obama has dined here – you gotta dine here.

Saril Kitchen & Lounge – Ceviche is amazing here!!

Santa Rita – I did not dine here but really wanted to! Please let me know if you go! =)

OTHER PLACES TO VISIT

Pearl Islands

San Blas

Santa Catalina

Looking for more information? Check out The Travel Women’s guide to Panama and where to eat in Casco Viejo!

Shop my favorite travel essentials:

Have you visited Panama? Comment below on your favorite things to do!

This post was written in partnership with the Panama Tourism Board.
As always, all honest opinions are my own.

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25 comments

  • John Fitzgerald

    May 10, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    I had a great experience with a small tour company called tusislas.com Super profesionals and knowlageble of the country.

    1. Tour de Lust

      May 10, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      That’s awesome! I’ll need to check them out for a future trip!

  • Siddhartha Joshi

    May 10, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    Loved this post and thank you for sharing those tips right in the beginning – the one about Uber is interesting and actually true in many parts of India as well 🙂 The beaches and the mountains look great, but I loved the streets the most…lovely pastel hues everywhere 🙂

    1. Tour de Lust

      May 11, 2017 at 12:48 am

      Thank you Siddhatha! Glad you enjoyed this post and hope you can visit soon!

  • Shelly Vendemo

    May 11, 2017 at 6:46 am

    Loved our time in Casco Viejo and Isla Contadorava few years back!

    1. Tour de Lust

      May 11, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      I need to go back and visit Isla Contadorava!

  • Only By Land

    May 11, 2017 at 8:54 am

    I must confess I visited Panama and only visited the City, Colon and the canal. It’s interesting to see what I missed, which is quite a lot, Panama is a huge country! The Boquete tree trek looks so much fun and Bocas Del Toro so colorful.

    1. Tour de Lust

      May 11, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      I agree! There is so much to see!

  • Marina

    May 11, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Whoaa! The places looks amazing. Especially the hotels that you recommended. This helps a lot to plan my trip next time to visit Panama. Super useful! Great post!

    1. Tour de Lust

      May 11, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      Anytime Marina! You will love it!

  • Samantha

    May 12, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    Amazing post, so beautiful and informative. I hope to be able to visit Panama soon!

    1. Tour de Lust

      May 12, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      Hope you get to visit soon Samantha!

  • Daniela || Ipanema travels to

    May 13, 2017 at 4:33 am

    It’s high time to start planning a trip to Central America :). I’m saving your post for future reference. It looks so beautiful there! This is exactly my type of place.

    1. Tour de Lust

      May 13, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Awesome! You will love it when you go!

  • Suze

    May 13, 2017 at 7:58 am

    What a great guide, you’ve definitely inspired me to visit Panama! I’d love to see the Panama Canal, do the hanging bridges tour and the zip lining too

    1. Tour de Lust

      May 13, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      So glad you’re looking into Panama! It’s such a great place and so affordable!

  • Riely

    May 13, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    I have yet to explore Panama city or cities nearby. Bocas del Toro looks like the perfect spot to relax and enjoy some beach days. Casco Viejo’s historical square looks so beautiful from your photos. I would have to visit and the museum for sure while in Panama.

    1. Tour de Lust

      May 15, 2017 at 8:49 am

      Thank you!! So glad you enjoyed my post =)

  • neha

    May 13, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    This is really a complete travel guide to visit Panama. And your pictures are wanting me to go there immediately. I will definitely make a plan soon, based on your writeup.

    1. Tour de Lust

      May 15, 2017 at 8:50 am

      Yay!! You will have a great time Neha!

  • Sara Kappelgaard

    May 15, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Wow, such great photos! Panama looks lovely, will definitely visit in the nearest future! Thank you for a very well written guide, this was so helpful. And oh my, I just love the photos! (:
    http://www.earthlingsara.com

    1. Tour de Lust

      May 15, 2017 at 8:50 am

      I know you will love it when you go!

  • Victoria

    May 15, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Beautiful pics! Makes me want to go there. Thanks for the post! I have pinned this on my Pinterest for future reference…hopefully in the not too distant future 🙂

    1. Tour de Lust

      May 17, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks Victoria! I hope you visit real soon too!

  • Surfing Santa Catalina: Stories From Around The World |

    June 15, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    […] Guest post by Brady Williams who joined me for a few night stay at Santa Catalina courtesy of Hotel Santa Catalina (you can read by review here). To have your own go at surfing Santa Catalina, or for a epic surf / yoga retreat I recommend Santa Catalina Retreats who generously provided their time and pro-instructors to teach me to surf!  Check out this post for more things to do in Santa Catalina or here for a extensive travel guide to Panama!  […]

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