After you’ve done the Panama City Tour classics like visit the Panama Canal, walking around in Casco Viejo, and learning about the country’s history at the Biodiversity Museum, I dare you to take a little detour and get out of your comfort zone by doing the things on this list. You’re bound to have a great time!
1. Lunch on the Caribbean, Sunset on the Pacific
Get up early, arrange for a driver to take you to Portobelo or Isla Grande on the Colon Coast (a 2 hour drive), and have some cool local seafood lunch. Come back to the city and have sunset drinks at some place close to the coast. BAM! You just visited both Caribbean Sea and The Pacific Ocean in the same day. Don’t forget to take pictures!
2. Take a picture in the Pollera, Panama’s traditional costume
You will respect it so much more after you see firsthand how much time and energy goes into it. And yes, the tightness of those buns will be the best facelift you’ll ever get without needing surgery. Getting ready to wear the Pollera is considered quite a special occasion among Panamanians.
3. Go to a Panamanian cooking class and/or learn how to make a traditional dish
Take home the recipe and cook it for your friends back home.
4. Have dinner and some wine at La Tasca de Duran
If you’re lucky, you may meet international boxing legend Roberto Duran!!!
5. Get a tour operator to take you to Coiba National Park
Classified as a UNESCO’s World Heritage site since 2005, this island off the Pacific coast in Panama was best known for being a prison. The prison closed 12 years ago, but the island remains mostly inhabited.
6. Take a walk on one of Panama’s trails
It’s best to go with a guide, a trekking group or someone who knows their way around the place. Don’t attempt to go alone, since most of our National Parks don’t have the proper signage.
7. Visit a Coffee Farm in Boquete
Panama is known as one of the ultimate coffee producers and premier coffee destinations in the world. You’ll learn everything there is about coffee, making your everyday cup o’ joe taste better and make you happier.
8. Spend a day on a deserted Island
San Blas, Bocas del Toro and Pedasi have islands with lovely white sand and clear waters, and almost nobody in sight so you can take in the island experience at its most natural. Be nice and take your trash with you, though.
9. Go river rafting
This activity is available all year round, and you get to choose the level of difficulty. I had never done river rafting in my life before going riding an “easy” river – I felt completely safe the whole time.
10. Visit the Lake Bayano Caves
You won’t see Batman, but you’ll see a lot of bats inside the caves, get a sense of mystery and take lovely pictures.
Have you been to any of these places? Do you have more recommendations? Let us know in the comments below!
This is a guest post by Marissa Surgeon.
Marissa has lived in Panama City most of her life, and is more than happy to share local insights of all that Panama has to offer. She’s the Founder of SHOP-PANAMÁ, a gift and souvenir line inspired by the tradition of Panamanian handcrafts. She juggles her time between the city and Panama’s beautiful countryside. Check out more at: