Most people know Panama because of the Panama Canal. Therefore, many people visit Panama and only see Panama City, the Old Town, and yes, the Panama Canal.
Even those who do the research and dare to venture beyond the Canal find themselves being surprised, leaving Panama feeling they’ve been in on a secret that the rest of the traveling world has yet to find out.
But how can this be? It’s simple: No advertisement.
Compared to neighboring Costa Rica, Panama does very little to promote its many attractions to the traveling world. And as everyone knows, it doesn’t matter how good something is, if you don’t know about it, you don’t think about it.
When you tell someone you are traveling to Costa Rica they will immediately think of a tropical paradise. When you say Panama, they will ask you why?
Not necessarily the best response for those trying to make a living working in tourism. But it’s not that bad, some people do travel to Panama. And well, nobody wants to live in a place overwhelmed by mass tourism anyway. So, if you can keep the secret, here are some of the things you can do in Panama to help you validate that crazy idea you have to visit a country only few people know about.
7 Things you can do in Panama
1. Hike in the rainforest and discover spectacular waterfalls, natural pools, and canyons with unique rock formations. Close to 30% of the land mass of Panama forms part of its national protected area system.
2. Snorkel around tiny tropical islands filled with palm trees on the Caribbean, and later on have a beer watching the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. You can travel coast-to-coast by land in less than 2 hours.
3. Nature photography. There are more species of birds and plants in Panama than in all of Canada and the United States combined: 10,000+ plant species, 250+ mammals, 1,000+ identified bird species, 200+ amphibians.
4. Explore the beauty of nature’s amazing stalactites and stalagmites in caves formed over eons of time. You will have trouble believing you can have places such as this all to yourself.
5. Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites that take you back as far as the 1500s and see the grand military forts that were built to defend against marauding pirates. Yes, pirates of the Caribbean that is.
6. Experience life in indigenous communities and learn about their ancient traditions and culture. There are 7 indigenous groups living in Panama: Ngäbe, Buglé, Guna, Emberá, Wounaan, Bri bri, and Naso Tjërdi.
7. Enjoy a cup of specialty coffee directly from the farms that are breaking all the records in value and quality. In their September 2022 auction, Lamastus Family Elida Geisha sold for $6,034 per pound, a new world record.
Talk about variety for such a small country!
And these are just a few examples. There are many others, such as river rafting, mountain biking, scuba diving, bird watching, horseback riding, canopy zip-line, and the list goes on.
Hi, I’m Luis. I’ve been an adventure tour guide since 2001. While doing so, I’ve been able to notice how some destinations and activities consistently get the best results and others, even popular ones, don’t. If you are an experienced adventure traveler, you might want to check the Explore the Best of Panama multi-day adventure tour itinerary. It is based exclusively on adventure travelers’ feedback, covering popular places, but also going off the beaten path. It is an adventure tour so it is not for everyone, the participants enjoying these tours are usually seasoned travelers seeking new and unique experiences.
Experience Panama in a way few people do! An amazing journey through the Panamanian countryside including the most beautiful and interesting destinations in the country. A perfect mix of beaches, mountains, popular destinations, and off-the-beaten-path exploration.