Panama is a blessed country in many ways, most notably in its immunity from the destructive effects of tourism. Though it possesses the lush jungles, pristine beaches and chic capital city of its neighbours, Panama’s many diverse attractions remain relatively unspoilt by the outside world.
From the dense emerald jungles of the Highlands to the steel skyline of the capital city, Panama is a place of unfettered wonder and complete enjoyment. The charming forestry, islands and cityscapes that await visitors in Panama are set to enchant visitors with their dizzying variety, raw beauty and relaxed accompanying lifestyle. For the outdoor adventurer, Panama is the Central American escape which truly has it all.
Touted as Central America’s most cosmopolitan capital, Panama City is a bustling hub that combines the vibrant Panamanian culture with the cut-glass skyline of an urban jungle reminiscent of Miami. The historic colonial area of Casco Viejo, formerly in ruins at the edge of the sea, has been ambitiously renovated and is set to enchant visitors once again.
A thriving centre for both national and international banking and trade, Panama City attracts a diverse populace hailing from around the globe which lends itself well to dining opportunities within the city. Foodies will delight in the delicious street food sold by shrill hawkers while night owls will enjoy the pulsing beats and sensuous rhythms of the salsa clubs on the Calle Uruguay.
Just 32 kilometres from the Costa Rican border lays the delightful archipelago known as Bocas del Toro, a collection of 6 thickly-wooded islands and a scattering of diminutive islets. Home to such treasured gems as Panama’s oldest marine park, Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos, an extensive coral reef ecosystem and mangrove forests where the Red Frog Beach Island Resort is located, the unspoilt gems of the Bocas del Toro islands are not to be missed.
The San Blas Islands are also high on the list of unspoilt island escapes that Panama has to offer. The archipelago of San Blas Islands is nestled just off the north coast of the Isthmus of Panama, east of the Panama Canal. Here, palm-tree studded beaches and turquoise seas make up a Bohemian island escape with its very own Central American twist. Of the 365 islands and cays in San Blas, only 49 are inhabited, making this a tropical paradise just waiting to be explored. It is no wonder that the Guna Yala people who reside here are described as ‘the happiest people on the planet’.
Another jewel of the Panamanian countryside is the Parque Nacional Volcán Barú, home to the country’s only volcano and some incredible trekking opportunities. The Darién Province is considered one of the last true frontiers in the Americas, while Boquete is an amazing Highland escape rich in cloud forests and coffee plantations.
Santa Catalina is the premier Panamanian surf spot, while the Peninsula de Azuero is a haven of Spanish culture and traditional folkloric festivals. Naturalists will want to experience the unique marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Parque Nacional Coiba, while the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal shouldn’t be knocked off the list of sights to see.