What to do on your Panama Holiday, the famous Canal and a lot more!
Panama may have only been in existence for just over 100 years, but before that it had a very important place in the Spanish Colonial rule, because it was the narrowest place to cross from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans.
Panama City is unlike all of the other capital cities in central America (although it is not strictly in the central American region), with its modern skyscapes, metro system and international style of living with many top hotels and restaurants in Panama City.
In fact, Panama City is a good match for most of the cities in south America as well.
The Panama currency is the USD. The Panama weather is describer here https://www.climatestotravel.com/climate/panama, The Panama Population is about 4 million and the Panama language is Spanish, although English is widely spoken compared to most other Latin American countries
For a country of its size, Panama flights operate to an amazing number of destinations from Tocumen International Airport. The main Panama City airport is currently (2019) having its second terminal completed. Most of the flights from Panama are operated by the most punctual airline in the world – Copa Airlines. It is also serviced by the main US airlines, 5 European Airlines and Air China!
So, apart from the Panama Canal and the skyscrapers, what else is there to see and do on your holiday Panama?
The Panama capital Panama City, which is constructed around the Bay of Panama, has had a very interesting past. The first Panama City, now known as Panama Antigua, was destroyed by the Welsh pirate Sir Henry Morgan in 1671, The remains are one of the highlights of visiting Panama City.
A new capital city was constructed on the Bay of Panama and is known known as Casjo Viejo. In recent years, the grand old colonial houses and crumbling pastel facades have been transformed into a UNESCO protected district that is like a smaller (unfinished) version of Cartagena in Colombia with many fashionable hotels, restaurants and bars. Casco Viejo was also the point of the Panama invasion by the USA in 1989 to depose and capture Panama dictator Manuel Noriega; https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/20/united-states-invades-panama-1989-1067072
The third element of Panama City is the New York Cityesque of Avenida Balboa all around the Bay of Panama. Tower blocks range from 30 to 50 stories and house thousands of well–off families and top hotels like the InterContinental. Hilton, JW Marriott and the Waldorf Astoria.
The Panama Canal
Although the Panama Canal could be thought as part of Panama City, it definitely deservers a section on its own. The Canal is the entire reason that Panama independence came about, when the USA ‘purchased’ the land off Colombia in 1904 to build a canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Although primarily used now for trade, at the time of construction it was needed to move the US Navy Warships across quickly to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Canal was expanded in 2016 to be able to handle most of the largest ships in the world, but the old locks are still in use every day for the transit of smaller ships.
The Canal is best viewed either from a partial or full transit of the Canal, but there are also excellent visitor centres on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the canal.
An excellent history of the Panama canal can be found here: https://www.history.com/topics/landmarks/panama-canal
Panama Islands and Beaches
Unfortunately, the beaches all along the Pacific coast of Latin America are not of the highest standards, but if you like to relax on the beach there are three great options in Panama.
The Pearl Islands of Panama is an archipelago that covers around 250 small islands of which most are uninhabited. They offer magnificent beaches stunning nature are located about 50 miles from Panama City.
The San Blas Islands of Panama is an archipelago comprising approximately 365 islands and cays, of which 49 are inhabited. They lie off the north coast of the Isthmus of Panama, east of the Panama Canal. They are home to the Kuna Yala people.
Bocas del Toro is located on the northern Caribbean coast of Panama. Extending from the mainland cloud forest mountains to the tropical island chains, the archipelago has 9 main islands, 52 cays, and thousands of islets. Bocas Town is a great place to visit if you wish to party.
The Interior in Panama is basically anywhere that is on the mainland but is not in Panama City. There are three distinct ways to enjoy life (and cool down) from the highs of Panama City.
Boquete is a small town in Chiriquí Highlands which is home to coffee plantations and the Barú Volcano National Park. Boquete has a cool climate and has several very nice hotels. Recently it has become home to many retirees. Boquete is also the source of the most expensive coffee in the world: Panama Geisha Coffee.
El Valle de Anton is in the crater of an extinct volcano, surrounded by mountains and cloud forest. It is located about 90 minutes-drive from Panama City and is home to hundreds of species of native birds, including the red-legged honeycreeper, the bay-headed tanager and the blue-crowned motmot.
The Azuero Peninsula is a large peninsula in southern Panama. It has the best beaches in Panama and Playa Venao is a locally famous surf spot 34 km southwest of Pedasí. The Azuero Peninsula is also home to Carnival in Panama. the second largest after Rio de Janeiro.
We suggest a two week tour of Panama visiting Panama City, one beach resort and somewhere in the interior.