Panama Travel Tips
The Best Coastal Island: Las Perlas Archipelago
In the Pacific Ocean, off Panama's southern coast, this string of islands overflows with beach beauty and activities. Though the tourism is growing here, the islands are far enough away that they are still pristine. Take one of the many flights from Panama City, and spend a day or two on these gorgeous beaches.
We've already talked about Comarca Kuna Yala, and those islands do have incredible beaches and water. The Kuna people work to preserve this natural beauty, and it is to all our benefits. However, if you want a more amenity-filled experience on an awesome coastal island, you're going the other way entirely - south to Las Perlas.
Best Coffee Pilgrimage in Panama: Boquete Coffee Tour at Finca Dos Jefes
Tour a beautiful coffee farm owned by Americans Richard and Dee Lipner in Boquete, a region called the Napa Valley of coffee. From cherry to cup, the guides share their knowledge and create a fun, interactive tour.
The coffee is harvested and prepared by hand on this refurbished farm. Just like coffee farmers of the past, the harvesting process at Finca Dos Jefes is tied closely with the lunar cycles. Sit at the coffee house, and enjoy the beautiful scenery with a cup of world-renowned java. You don't often get to sip your coffee while looking out over the beautiful landscape where it was grown.
Best Scene for Trendsetters: Relic Bar
In the Old City of Panama City, this bar is situated underground, beneath the popular Luna Castle Hostel. A haven for the hip and trendy, Relic is located near a number of restaurants and bars - which is convenient if you want to get your night started early, because Relic doesn't open until 8:30pm.
Relic features a large patio as well as a comfortable indoor area. One of the walls near the entrance is part of the Panama City's orignal wall. The location, subterranean environment and reminders of the surrounding history combine with the vivacious crowd to make a great environment.
Best Nature Hike in the City: Ancon Hill
Ancon Hill promises the best view of Panama City and the ocean from a natural vantage. The hill is covered in beautiful trees and inhabited by many types of birds. It’s also smack in the middle of Panama City, and it is a visible landmark from all over the city.
You can hike or drive to the top. The drive can be harrowing, as the road is narrow and steep. A guide or taxi driver may be a worthwhile investment for a more comfortable ride. If you're the active type, the hike is roughly 20-30 minutes one way, so be prepared with water and comfortable shoes. But on a weekday morning when the temperature is moderate and the hill is relatively uncrowded, the hike can be pleasant. At the top, you’ll enjoy a 360 degree panoramic view of Panama City that’s well worth the trip!
The Best Botanical Experience: Aprovaca
The Aprovaca Orchid Nursery and Conservation Center is home to over 100 plants, some of which are endangered. If you go between July and September, you'll see the orchids in full bloom, including the Panamanian national flower, the ghost orchid. The nursery teems with life, as birds can be seen fluttering about the flowers.
For $2 USD, you can choose between a guided tour in Spanish or a self-guided tour with an English booklet to explore the gorgeous flowers, and you'll see exotic flowers and plants you might not otherwise get to experience. There is a café with Wi-Fi, coffee, juice and snacks, so when you've finished your exploration of Panamanian flora, you can relax and prepare for your next adventure.
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