Panama — Things to Do
Considering Panama has two extensive tropical coastlines, it is no surprise that water sports provide a big pull for the country. Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, or you can take a boat trip to one of the smaller islands to use them as a starting point for an underwater excursion. Also in these vast waters, there is enjoyment to be had atop the water, as Panama is a hub for sailing trips. Some sailors go further afield from, perhaps across the Pacific Ocean to Asia, although it is easily possible to charter a boat to enjoy waters closer to home, perhaps using it as an opportunity for a fishing trip.
Water activities continue inland, since there is some great white water rafting in Panama, or you can take some rapids on a kayak. But nature in general is an important feature for the country, and it presents some amazing birding opportunities as you wander through some tropical rainforest. If you are willing, you can also venture deeper into the jungle on a multi-day trek into one of the densest and most undisturbed rainforests on the planet, to witness life there. Panama also offers some of the best whale watching in the world.
Panama hosts an array of top-class scuba diving sites. There are many in the Caribbean Sea, such as if you head to Portobelo marine park you can arrange an excursion with Panama Divers who provide full PADI instruction and certification. Bocas del Toro, in the west of the country, also on the Caribbean Sea, is a great place to take a dive. Habla Ya ecotours provide equipment hire and training in the area, and can arrange varying levels of dive trips.
With a huge tract of sheltered ocean, it is no wonder that Panama is a popular destination for sports fishing. Pesca Panama offer a different number of salt fishing excursions around the gulf of ‘Chiquiri’, on the Pacific side. They also offer freshwater fishing in some of the rivers and lakes of the country.
With both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea to choose from, you may be tempted to charter a yacht and go boating. You may even choose to go to both, taking advantage of the unique Panama Canal that provides joint access. A good place to start, though, is in the Caribbean, San Blas Sailing rent boats out around the San Blas Islands. Or Panama Yacht Adventures has a fleet of yachts for hire and provide passage through the canal.
Panama has some great waterways offering Class I-V rapids for white water rafting. Panama Rafting provides guided trips on the ‘Chiquiri’ river, or you can ask Habla Ya about their tours. Aventuras Panama also has rafting trips around the ‘Boquete’ region.
Sea kayaking is a really great way to experience the blissful waters in and around Panama. Southern Sea Ventures organizes excursions around the ‘San Blas’ archipelago and islands in the Caribbean Sea. On the Pacific side, Fluid Adventures offers kayaking trips around Coiba Island.
A way to experience some of Panama’s nature is to take a zip line canopy tour. There are currently four zip lines in Panama you can attempt: Bastimentos Sky Canopy Tour (near Bocas del Toro), Boquete Tree Trek (in the Chiquiri highlands), Canopy Adventure (near Cocle), or Panama Outdoor Adventures (near Portobelo).
With dense wooded areas home to the Resplendent Quetzal, and also other species such as the Harpy Eagle, Panama is a great birding destination. Birding Panama offers specialized small group tours with an experienced guide, on a variety of trips going to different areas of the country.
With Panama, being a biologically diverse hotspot, you may want to experience some of Panama’s rainforests by trekking through the jungle. There is a unique tour offered by Eco Circuitos on their ‘coast to coast’ jungle trek, linking the Pacific and Caribbean coasts together on this multi-day trek. Panama Exotic Adventures offer tours into the Darien rainforest.
Around the Pearl Islands in the Pacific Ocean is a world famous whale watching site. Here, you can go with Whale Watching Panama to spot whales and dolphins on their tours. Whale watching season is mid-June to mid-October.