Things to do
You will never be at a loss for things to do in Panama. Whether you are interested in doing some serious hiking and exploring the highland rain forests, or lounging on a white-sand beach, Panama has it all. You can sail, snorkel, dive, surf, swim, hike, explore, bird watch, eat, drink and generally have a terrific time.
Panama is home to several large national parks, where there are some great trails and opportunities for exploring the rain forest on foot. Whether you want a mild day hike or you want to test your physical and mental strength by summitting Volcan Baru, Panama offers it all. La Parque Internacional de La Amistad, which was created with neighboring Costa Rica, has some an amazing network of trails of varying difficulty and length. The park is home to some of Panama’s amazing wildlife, including the famous Quetzal bird, pumas, and monkeys.
Panama is host to many well-known and popular surf spots, both on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. There are great reef, point and beach breaks throughout the country. While many surfers have already long discovered Costa Rica’s amazing surfing spots, there are fewer that have found Panama’s swell. Spots along the Pacific like Santa Catalina are especially famed among the die-hard surfers for it’s killer swells year-round. However, whether you are a beginner wanting to learn or a master surfer, Panama has breaks that will make everyone happy.
Kayaking and Rafting
There are many opportunities for those interested in spending at least part of their vacation in Panama on some sort of boat. In the highlands, rafting tours are gaining popularity, and are an excellent way to experience the scenery and get an adrenaline rush at the same time. In places like Bocas, you can easily rent kayaks and spend a day paddling between islands and exploring the area by boat.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
There are many great dive opportunities in Panama for those certified. If you aren’t certified, but always dreamed of plunging into the depths of the ocean, Panama can also be a great place to get your diving certification. For several hundred dollars less than in the U.S., you can get certified in places like Bocas del Toro by taking a few days to take the class and go on some supervised dives. There are many great and famed dive spots on both coasts of the country. Marine preserves like Isla Coiba in the Pacific Ocean, offer amazing opportunities to see coral, sharks, whales, dolphins other incredible marine life.
If you don’t have your diver certification or would prefer to experience the marine life afloat, there is also a plethora of great snorkel spots in Panama. On both coasts, you will be sure to find soem amazing reefs and marine life to look at. If you don’t want to haul your own gear, you can usually find masks and snorkels to rent in beach destination for under US$5 per day. It’s an inexpensive and worthwhile activity for anyone.
Eco-tourism has already become a booming industry in neighboring Costa Rica, and this area of travel is also becoming more popular in Panama. New eco-resorts and adventure tours are popping up around the country. Many of these resorts cater to active and more upscale travelers, as many of these places are not cheap. However, if you are interested in staying in an eco-friendly hotel, going on jungle and hiking tours, this is a viable option for you.
Although Panama is just starting to develop these canopy tours that have long been popular in Costa Rica, you can find some canopy tours near the mountain town of Boquete. So, if you want to zip line through the jungle top, there are a few of these tours to be found in Panama.