KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
CURRENCY: US Dollar. Credit cards are widely accepted in Panama City but cash is the preferred method of payment in Bocas del Toro and other more remote areas of Panama.
WHEN TO GO: Peak travel season is January through April.
WEATHER: The weather is divided by the dry and rainey season. Dry season is January through April. Rainey season is pretty much the rest of the year. (Per locals, the rainiest months in Panama City are October and November. In Bocas del Toro, the rainiest month is July.)
TRANSPORTATION: Uber is the best mode of transportation in Panama City. Water taxis in Bocas del Toro.
POINTS OF INTEREST: Panama Canal, Casco Viejo (old town in Panama City), Gamboa Rainforest, Bocas del Toro
GUIDE TO PANAMA
Located in Central America and often overlooked in favor of neighboring Costa Rica, Panama is a country worth a visit. Spilling with historic charm and unique wildlife encounters, Panama delivers on the family fun and is easier on the wallet and budget!
WHERE TO STAY:
We will break out hotel recommendations based on locations within Panama.
JW Marriott (where we stayed in the “new city”) is a great option especially for their amazing pools and city views. The pool deck boosts four separate pools, two of which are infinity pools with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Hungry? The JW Marriott delivers with their on sight restaurant Masi Restaurant. Make sure to try the delicious ceviche!
W Hotel. New to the hotel scene in Panama City, the W delivers on unique artistic design and color! Onsight dining, sweeping city views and a rooftop pool deck, the W is located in the heart of Panama’s business district and offers a great central location to base your stay.
American Trade Hotel is located in the heart of Casco Viejo, Panama City’s Old Town and where we based our stay. The boutique hotel delivers on charm as well as location. The kids loved the rooftop pool to cool off after a day exploring the colonial streets.
Hotel La Compania is another great option in Casco Viejo. Currently under construction is a new wing to the hotel that will offer family suites!
BOCAS DEL TORO:
Tropical Suites is located in the heart of Bocas Town. The boutique hotel is currently building a pool overlooking the beautiful waters of Bocas del Toro.
Diver’s Paradise Boutique Hotel is where we based on stay in Bocas del Toro. Our king size room was equipped with a full size futon for the small child as well as a balcony overlooking the dock and water.
WHAT TO DO:
There is so much to do in Panama from hiking and snorkeling to historic walking tours to wildlife spotting and education. Our top recommendations for must see sights in Panama are listed below!
A must see sight in Panama City, Casco Viejo is the historic old town of Panama City. Wander the colonical streets, sample Raspados (a traditional Panamanian shaved ice), tour one of the many stunning cathedrals, have a beer at La Rana Dorado (craft brewery) or dine at a rooftop restaurant (Tantalo or Casa Casco).
Located 45 minutes outside Panama City, Gamboa Rainforest is the perfect day trip filled with unique animal encounters. (Monkey Adventures is a great tour company option!)
Our full day tour include a boat cruise down the Panama Canal, Monkey Island stops to view and learn about different monkey specifies in the rainforest and a visit to the sloth sanctuary where orphaned sloths are rehabilitated for release back into the wild.
BOCAS DEL TORO:
An island chain located in the northeast corner of Panama close to the border of Costa Rica, Bocas del Toro is a naturally stunning place. However, getting to Bocas del Toro doesn’t come easy as the only airport is for regional flights only. Air Panama runs two direct flights a day out of Panama City to Bocas del Toro.
Once in Bocas del Toro, soak in the laid back vibe and start your island hopping. We recommend a boat trip to Cayo Zapatilla to enjoy the turquoise waters of this uninhabitated island. Stop for a drink and tacos at the Floating Bar. Borrow some of their snorkeling gear and hunt for the beautiful starfish located in the waters all around the bar.
On a return trip to Panama, we would love to hike in Metropolitan Park outside Panama City, visit the indegious Embare Tribe or soak in the sun in San Blas Islands.
In our opinion, finding a fun family vacation spot that both kids and adults enjoy is difficult. Panama did just that! In fact, our daughter told us multiple times throughout the trip that it had been the best day. Goal of every family adventure!