THE ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE TO PANAMA

THE ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE TO PANAMA
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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 BahiaTropical 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! =)

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