Go

5 Can’t-Miss Panama Activities With Kids


Like Panama? Try Costa Rica or Belize, too!

Panama is less well known than some of it’s Central American neighbors (hello Costa Rica), but that’s all the more reason to go. It’s home to unique eco systems, idyllic islands, incredible wildlife (some of the best bird watching in the world!), beautiful beaches and plenty of kid-friendly adventures. There is something for everyone.

Here are five places in Panama that our families love.

Go Sailing in the San Blas Islands

San Blas 2If we were to recommend just one thing to do in Panama it would be to go sailing in the magical archipelago of San Blas (left and above). Positioned off Panama’s north coast in the Caribbean Sea, this network of coral islands stretches 226 km south and is breathtakingly beautiful.

Unlike many other Caribbean islands, the San Blas remain gloriously removed from modern life. Only 49 of the 365 islands are inhabited by the indigenous Kuna (or Guna). This group has strict rules about protecting its land; you won’t find any luxury hotels or chain restaurants here.

Visitors can camp on one of the islands or charter a boat for sleeping and traveling between them. We highly recommend the latter!

Look for Whales near Panama City

Children whale watchingPanama is the only place in the world where Humpback whales from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres come to breed and give birth. From July to October, thousands of these magnificent creatures travel from Antarctica to the warm Pacific Ocean. From December to March smaller numbers of Humpbacks arrive from North America.

We always try to pick a tour company that practices responsible tourism and who keep a respectful distance from the whales (not all do). If you go, bring binoculars and keep an eye out for dolphins. Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Spinner dolphins and more hang out in these waters.

Hug a Sloth in El Valle de Anton

SlothPanama has incredible amount of wildlife and Casa Mariposa, a small, no-frills guesthouse in El Valle de Anton, offers one of the most unique experiences. Located roughly two hours southwest of Panama City, is offers a handful of rooms…and a handful of sloths!

Ursula, the owner, adopted two three-toed sloths (Sammie and Dahabie) when their mother broke her neck in the wild. These adorable animals are now very much at home at Casa Mariposa and our children quickly fell in love with them. They learned quirky sloth facts and got to hug the little creatures as well.

 Smell the Coffee in Boquete

coffee plantationsThe small town of Boquete sits some 1,200 meters above sea level on the Caldera River and has a temperate climate not found elsewhere Panama. It’s leafy environs, cooler climes and fertile volcanic soil make Boquete a prime coffee-growing region. We thing it produces some of the most flavourful coffee in the world!

There are lots of coffee plantation tours where you can learn about the growing process. Each tour finishes with a coffee tasting where you can sample different flavours and strengths (do it early in the day!).

Boquete is also full of adventure activities that will help you work off your caffeine buss. Our children love zip-lining, pony rides, jungle treks to waterfalls, mountain biking, rainforest treks, and birding tours where we searched for the elusive but resplendent quetzal.

Explore Panama City

Panama city is well worth a couple of days; there’s plenty for families to see and do. The obvious starting point is the Panama Canal, an incredible system of locks and artificial lakes that connects the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. The Miraflores Visitor Centre has an exhibition area where kids can pretend to steer a container ship through the locks!

The spectacular and hard to miss Biomuseo, The Museum of Biodiversity, is in a striking, brightly colored building designed by Frank Gehry. This would be reason enough to stop by, But be sure to head inside. This fantastic museum has lots of hands-on activities for kids, plus a 10-screen ‘Panamarama’ cinema room showcasing the country’s diverse ecosystems.

 Katja Gaskell & Victoria Westmacott are the co-founders of globetotting.comKatja has written for Lonely Planet and numerous travel websites, magazines and newspapers. She and her family have lived in Australia, India and Mexico and travelled well beyond. Victoria has worked in television production in the UK and has lived and worked in the UK, Spain, New York, Vietnam, India and Panama.

#wkendtravelinspirationThis blog is part of Weekend Travel Inspiration. Visit our partners:

• AlbomAdventures
• ContentedTraveller 
• TheCrowdedPlanet
• Malaysian Meanders
• ReflectionsOnRoute 
• Safari254

 Loading InLinkz ...


Previous post

3 Ways Kids Can Help Plan Your Next Vacation

Next post

5 Top things To Do, See, Eat With Kids in NYC

8 Comments

  1. October 20, 2015 at 4:17 pm — Reply

    we saw sloths in Costa Rica and the kids were really impressed. Hugging one would have been such a great experience!!

  2. October 20, 2015 at 2:07 pm — Reply

    I’ve been dropping hints about a Costa Rica vacay, and the only response I’ve had so far is the gift of a travel memoir e-book set in that Country. I think I need to transfer my yearnings to Panama now. I like that it’s not as touristy and yet there’s still so much family-friendly activities there.

  3. October 17, 2015 at 6:04 am — Reply

    I love a destination, that can offer some time in the water, getting in touch with nature and some outdoor sports. Plus it looks relaxing – no hustle and bustle.

    • eileen g
      October 18, 2015 at 10:02 pm — Reply

      yes, it seems like a small country with a little bit of everything close by.

  4. October 17, 2015 at 3:44 am — Reply

    Yes, yes, and yes! I want to do all of these things. Panama is high on my list, but it will still have to wait a couple years, I think!

    • eileen g
      October 18, 2015 at 10:01 pm — Reply

      It certainly seems to have a lot to offer!

  5. October 16, 2015 at 8:54 pm — Reply

    I like the idea of Panama more so now that it is less touristy than Costa Rica. I am sure that Costa Rica is beautiful but then Panama looks very appealing also. Good one.

    • eileen g
      October 18, 2015 at 10:00 pm — Reply

      Yes, Panama has come on my radar a few times in the last year, definitely the up-and-coming destinations. We had all better go before it’s truly “discovered.”

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *