Despite its small size, Panama celebrates a land rich in natural resources and culture leaving travelers with options for every interest.
Folklore & Tradition:
The Azuero Peninsula is said to be the cultural heart of Panama. Discover the stories and symbols of Panama's past as they are celebrated in its present. Enjoy the traditional music of the drums, an instrument traditionally played in all three main ethnicities: black, indigenous, and Hispanic. Learn about the Pollera costume and the Tembleques jewelry worn by Panamanian women. Listen to the folklore of the Devil's Mask, a symbol introduced by the Catholic church to tell the stories of Catholicism to the indigenous people.
City Center & Culture:
Panama City & The Panama Canal
Panama City and The Panama Canal are the mainstays of commerce and modern culture in Panama. The Panama Canal is considered to be one of the seven modern world wonders and holds a central position in Panama's economy. A visit to this modern engineering marvel which has exponentially improved world trade is high on many traveler's bucket list. The ever-bustling Panama City is another highlight. Take a walk through the old charming streets of Casco Viejo, Panama City's historic district, where the tantalizing aromas of the up-and-coming foodie fare pervade the streets. Also, don't miss the Fish Market, an energetic marketplace in Casco Viejo where the catch of the day is fresh off the boat. With so much water in every direction, it should come as no surprise that seafood is a staple in Panamanian life. Here, the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life is on display. Take a walk around, watch the world go by, and grab some fresh seafood from a local vendor or restaurant.
Bocas del Toro & Pearl Islands
While Panama is not an island, the country is flanked to the north and south by the ocean with islands and islets speckling the perimeter. Bocas del Toro is a Caribbean archipelago first discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502. The banana boom has since found the islands, but the living remains easy and small eco-lodges have popped up enticing travelers to visit the islands' sandy shores and crystalline waters. The Pearl Islands are located to the south of Panama City in the Gulf of Panama, an easy jumping point for Panama City travelers. One of the main attractions here is wildlife, and, of course, the beauty of the islands. Bird and marine sanctuaries are home to over 100 species of birds, countless fish, and agouties, iguanas, wild pigs, and more.
Cloud Forest & Volcanos:
Boquete & El Valle de Anton
The towns of Boquet in west-central Panama and El Valle de Anton to the west of Panama City profit from not only stunning mountainous views created by now-extinct volcanos but also from the lush cloud forest ecosystems created in their cool, high-altitude climates. Boquete is a great middle destination between Panama City and the islands of Bocas del Toro. Aside from the Boquete cloud forest, you won't want to miss Baru Volcano. El Valle de Anton is located within an extinct volcanic crater not far from Panama City - ideal for travelers looking for the cloud forest experience a bit closer to the city lights.
Surfing and Diving:
Surfing is the main draw to Santa Catalina, but Coiba Island, located just offshore, wildlife and marine lovers also. The island served as a prison up until 2004, but today is a wildlife sanctuary and UNESCO world heritage site. Visitors can choose between over 30 dive and snorkel sites with over 760 fish species and 33 shark species.