Many people come to Panama for a glimpse of the world-renowned Panama Canal but they stay for much more. The world knows Panama as the place where North and South America meets; it is also the meeting point of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The name Panama means “a place of many fish” but fishing is not the only water activity one can undertake in these parts. Panama is full of unexplored locations that make it perfect for scuba diving, snorkeling and jet skiing. You will be very busy during a trip to Panama as the region is rich in attractions and modern infrastructure that makes this tropical paradise a sought-after tourist destination. Here are the major destinations that every visitor to Panama must see:
Playa Las Lajas
This is a 10km stretch of sand along Chiriquí gulf on the pacific coast. This is a great beach for swimming and body surfing owing to great water temperatures and little current. Luxury hotel chains might not have discovered this treasure amidst the oceans but visitors will find rustic shacks and restaurants all over the beach where you can find something to eat or drink.
This is the perfect beach 20km away from the city, where you can ride everything from jet skis and speedboats. It is home to the second oldest church in the area and tourists will find a few restaurants in the village with narrow streets leading to the top of this island for panoramic views of the Panama City.
It was home to indigenous people until the discovery by the Spanish in 1500’s. Tourists can hire a yacht to take them around as they get a glimpse of wondrous forests surrounded by sandy beaches.
This is the connection of three islands, which locals love for splendid views of the city and bridge of the Americas. There are myriad restaurants and fun spots to enjoy in the islands connected by the Amador Causeway.
Sendero Los Quetzales
This is a spectacular trail near the town of Cero Punto. It is a 9km stretch that starts in the east and passes through the cloud forest of Parque. The trail takes you up and down the Rio Caldera before coming to an end at the mountains above Boquete. You can start from Boquete but this is an uphill task, which might deter some visitors. Tourists are advised to take a guide for this trail, as it is not well marked. If you love traveling in a group, join one of many organized tours of the trail.
Santa Catalina is a world surfing destination that the pros would have loved to keep secret. However, such mystic beauty cannot stay hidden for long as today; visitors come in droves to enjoy the magical seclusion of Santa Catalina. Natural forests surround the Island, adding to its glorious splendor.
San Blas Islands
San Blas Islands is the best place to go for a feel of east Panama culture. Kuna is the welcoming native tribe who gives the visitors unlimited access to their islands for a fee.
People come here to see the famous Panama marine life in Coiba, the largest island in Central America. There are more than 800 species of marine creatures in Coiba National Marine Park, which is also a great snorkeling and scuba diving destination.
This is the best destination in the world for beginner scuba divers thanks to shallow dives in the area. There is a coral reef where thousands of colored fish thrive and this area discovered by Christopher Columbus, makes a great hiking spot. You can walk for hours, taking in the breathtaking scenery provided by endless stretch of green forests not to mention an awe-inspiring shoreline.
The greatest engineering achievement by man is certainly a remarkable sight for visitors. The best way to explore this canal is by visiting the Miraflores Lock museum as it has a restaurant on top from where you can see the canal below. Visitors can also take partial or full tours of the vast canal. A complete crossing should take you 8 hours, which will leave you wanting more of Panama!