Probably one of the most overlooked countries in Central America for vacations is Panama. Everyone knows about the Panama Canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but there is so much more to this beautiful country that needs to be explored:
Portobelo. On the Caribbean Coast lies the quaint town of Portobelo. A strategic port for the Spanish in the 17th century, there is plenty to see and do. For the history buffs, you can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Fort San Jerónimo – one of the largest forts built along the Caribbean Bay. Or visit San Felipe Church, built in 1814 in honor of Portobelo’s patron saint, Black Christ. If you want to spend time in nature, take a hike in Portobelo National Park to enjoy the rainforests, some unusual birds and animals and the gigantic Los Monos Waterfall. You can also relax on one of three tranquil beaches near Portobelo: Playa Blanca, Playa Frances, & Playa Huerta.
Boquete. Located in the highlands of Chiriquí, Boquete is an adventurer’s dream. Highlights here include a trip to the Finca Dos Jefes coffee plantation, where you can take a personal tour and learn about traditional organic coffee farming. For the more experienced hiker, take the trails up to Volcan Baru – at 3, 475 meters it’s the highest point in Panama. If you decide to trek to the top, plan an overnight trip and get a guide to accompany you. There are many other trails that aren’t quite so strenuous. For a little fun, take advantage of the Boquete Tree Trek which will take you ziplining through the extraordinary cloud forest that will take your breath away.
Bocas del Toro. Bocas del Toro is the beach destination in Panama. Whether you just want to relax on the sand or are ready for some exciting water and land activities, you’ll find it all at Bocas del Toro. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the archipelago of Bocas del Toro consists of 6 small islands is fast becoming a hot beach destination in Central America. Go snorkeling in the clear waters, take a tour of the Bluff Beach Municipal Reserve to see leatherback, hawksbill and green turtle nests at Playa Bluff Beach, or just relax in the sun.
Soberania National Park. Soberania National Park is a protected tropical rain forest that is home to sloths, monkeys, hundreds of types of birds, and much more – most of which is accessible through its hiking trails. While there, visit the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center on Pipeline Road. From its observation tower you get a beautiful view of the forest canopy. As you hike further along Pipeline Road, you’ll get a close look at much of the country’s wildlife.
Panama City. Panama City is the main metropolis and capital of Panama and as you can imagine, there is plenty to see and do. Make sure that you spend some time in the historic Casco Viejo district, which was built in the 17th century after the pirate Henry Morgan looted and destroyed the original capital, Panama Viejo (which you should also see) and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the Biomuseo, which offers a look at the of the Panamanian isthmus and its impact on the planet’s biodiversity. Don’t miss the hikes through the Parque Nacional Metropolitano - the only natural tropical rainforest located within city limits in the world.
Panama Canal. Of course, no trip to Panama would be complete without seeing the Panama Canal. Initially started by the French in the late 19th century, the endeavor was abandoned in 1893 after thousands of workers died from malaria, yellow fever and other diseases. The United States took over shortly after the turn of the century and completed the canal in 1914 that allows quick passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The journey through the 3 locks takes ships about 10 hours to complete, and the best place to watch the mechanics of the locks in action at the Miraflores Visitor Center. Or take a boat tour for an up-close experience of this engineering marvel.
As you can see, there is more to Panama than meets the eye. Let Luxury Destinations Concierge plan your trip to this Central American treasure. Just give us a call at (805) 236-4437.
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