Panama is blessed with some of the most immaculate beaches, diverse jungles, and clear waters in all of Central America, and because the country is small (about the size of South Carolina) all of its bounty is easily accessible from its capital: Panama City. Some of Panama’s tour operators are already venturing into the country’s mysterious and untamed rainforest in the South–the Darien. With such biodiversity and rich cultural heritage, Panama is making a name for itself as the ultimate eco-tourism hub.
The country’s Caribbean coast is known for spectacular snorkeling and scuba diving, perhaps best exhibited in the northern archipelago of Bocas del Toro. Bocas first became a spot on the radar for military purposes and now boasts some of the best outdoor activities–such as sport fishing and island hopping–that the country has to offer.
Also on the Caribbean coast sits the San Blas archipelago: a stunning group of over 360 islands owned by the Kuna Indians. This region, or comarca as its referred to, retains strict laws for development and tourism, therefore, keeping its old-world charm and seemingly timeless virgin appeal. San Blas tours are a cultural experience of a lifetime, living with, eating alongside, and becoming friends with a tribe who has fought off nearly 500 years of colonial confrontation.
The Chiriqi province, and most notably its leader in tourism Boquete, have attracted a strong following as well–appealing to eco-tourists, nature lovers, and adventurers who are always in search of something a little different. Boquete boasts perhaps the fastest rise in real estate and is home to numerous developments and tour companies looking to cater to your every need.
Panama City is a living history book, every corner you turn offering a peak into the past, the way past, and sometimes even the future. The Panama Canal is easily the most recognizable of these attractions, and with its beautiful museum, observatory area, and information booths, it seems like its not letting up anytime soon. Casco Viejo, which used to be the city’s center still thrives today as this unique historic look into an earlier period.
Walk down the cobblestone streets, or eat lunch on a breezy afternoon in one of its open plazas, surrounded by rich Spanish architecture and feel what can only be described as a blast from the past. Panama City’s Amador Causeway, again originally of military purpose, now plays host to a bunch of trendy nightlife spots, zesty restaurants, and boutique shops for browsing. Panama also boasts, that its one of the few world capitals with a rainforest in its city limits.
From Panama City you can take an easy boat trip out to the Pearl Islands, known for their lush tropical rainforest and perfect beaches. Because domestic flights in Panama are so reasonable and safe, it seems that almost any attraction in this country is an option. Perhaps have coffee on the Caribbean coast then swing on over to the Pacific for some waffles. Where else can you say you’ve done that before?
Until recently, Panama has been a secret among world travelers. A secret no one really wanted to let out. But now that it has gotten out of the bag, more and more people are experiencing what life is like…in a country known once for its canal, and now for a whole lot more.