Attention all adventure enthusiasts! If you’re searching for a new destination to satisfy your thrill-seeking needs, Panama should be your next getaway. This country boasts an array of unbelievable landscapes and exciting adventures. Whether it’s riding the waves in Santa Catalina, trekking through the lush jungles of Boquete, or standing atop a volcano, Panama promises an unforgettable experience. In this Ultimate Panama Travel Guide, I’ll guide you through some of the most adventurous things to do in Panama.
I made it my mission to create the largest-ever adventure Panama Travel Guide. I even explored some spots that surprised the locals. Panameno’s love their adventure and I met so many awesome locals along this journey. Thanks to all of you for making my 100 days of exploring Panama such an unforgettable experience. I have put an unbelievable amount of energy into documenting these adventures so that I can share them with you all. This is my adventure guide to Panama. These are 70 awesome things to do in Panama.
3 MOST POPULAR TOURS IN PANAMA
These are the three most popular activities for tourists in Panama. Personally, I love the San Blas Islands boat trip!
- San Blas Islands Boat Trip: Explore the tropical paradise of the San Blas Islands, the most beautiful region in Panama. Easily the most amazing activity I did in Panama.
- Taboga Island Catamaran Cruise: Admire Panama from the water on a sightseeing catamaran cruise to Taboga Island. Admire the city skyline, dive from the boat for a swim, relax on a beach in Taboga, and enjoy snacks and an open bar.
- Half-Day City Tour & Panama Canal: Connect with the beautiful and modern Panama City on this shared or private city tour. Stroll the narrow streets of the Old Town and watch ships sail through the Panama Canal
70 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN PANAMA: THE BUCKET LIST
In this blog post about the top things to do in Panama, I have split the activities up by region so you can plan out your trip. If you enjoy hiking, I suggest basing in Boquete or El Valle de Anton for at least a week. If you want those tropical beaches try Bocas Del Toro, Escudo de Veraguas, and Santa Catalina.
BOQUETE (CHIRIQUI PROVINCE)
Boquete has fast become one of my favorite adventure towns. It is nestled in the province of Chiriqui, which is in the north of Panama only a couple hours’ drive to the Costa Rican border. At almost 2000 meters above sea level, Boquete has a cool climate, which is perfect weather to explore all of the awesome hikes and waterfalls in the region. Boquete is also one of the best places to spot the famous Resplendent Quetzal bird in the canopy of the many forests
THE LOST WATERFALLS TRAIL
On one of the most stunning jungle trails in the world, we looked for the lost waterfalls of Boquete. Through the luscious jungle, we trekked. Over muddy paths, we slipped and stumbled. From one patch of wildflowers to the next we discovered. Until we reached three, breathtakingly powerful and mind-blowingly beautiful waterfalls. The Lost Waterfall Trail Hike is one of the best things to do in Panama.
The Lost Waterfalls Trail is the first thing most visitors do in Boquete. It is a $7 entrance fee but quite easy to get to and only a short hike it gives great value with three amazing waterfalls. It is the crowd pleaser and great for those who want a bit of an adventure, a waterfall but only half a day’s worth of effort.
View the full blog post: THE LOST WATERFALLS TRAIL HIKE
THE PIPELINE TRAIL
The Pipeline Trail is another great hike in the Bajo Mono region just outside of Boquete Town. Walk alongside a river through the jungle until you reach a massive yet slow-descending cascade at the end of the trail. On the way, you will discover a thousand-year-old tree and some unique wildlife. The trail takes about two hours and is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon when you are staying in Boquete town.
The Pipeline Trail is a nice short walk through the jungle, with a great chance of spotting a Quetzal bird. They say this is one of the best things to do in Boquete for spotting the Quetzal. we also spotted a snake, caterpillars, and lots of beautiful plants along the way.
View the full blog post: THE PIPELINE TRAIL
EL PIANISTA TRAIL
El Pianista Trail fast became my favorite jungle adventure in Boquete with its narrow canyon-esque path. The trail is just 4km out of Boquete town and is a 3-4 hour out and back trail with more than 2000 feet of elevation. The trail leads you into a cloud forest, which essentially means at least half of the trail is inside the clouds. This turns the scenery into a dripping rainforest, where life is buzzing, water droplets are falling to the floor from every leaf, and wildflowers and birds are plentiful.
This trail harbors some dark secrets. In 2014, two Dutch girls in their early 20’s made it to the summit and then went missing. There was no sign of the girls until a few weeks later. There are huge holes in the story of what happened and how the investigation unfolded. The girls’ backpack was found 8 weeks later, and bones including a foot still inside a boot were also found weeks later. The girls had hiked down past the summit into the continental divide. The area between Costa Rica and Panama. The Ngobe tribe were the people to discover the backpack and would have been the first contact for the girls had they come into trouble and looked for a way out according to the reports. It’s one of the spookiest things to do in Panama.
View the full blog post: EL PIANISTA TRAIL
LA PIEDRA DE LINO HIKE
It may be one of the shortest hikes in Boquete distance wise but La Piedra De Lino will hurt your legs the most! This hike was a grueling 434 meters in elevation over just 1.3km. That means for every three meters you walk forward, you walk up one meter. However, the view of Boquete from the top rock is worth the climb.
La Piedra De Lino means the rock of Lino. Lino is a small section of Boquete only about four kilometers from the center of Boquete town. There were lots to see on the way up with flowers, berries, and glimpses of the view as we made our way to the top of the rock. There was no one else on the trail at all and we felt like we were out in the jungle even though we had views back towards Boquete town!
View the full blog post: LA PIEDRA DE LINO (THE ROCK OF LINO) HIKE
LA PIEDRA DE ARTILLERIA HIKE
La Artilleria hike is a beautiful trail up to one of the most epic viewpoints in all of Boquete. However, it is a strange one. At the top of the trail, we scrambled up the rocks and watched the clouds part to show us an amazing view of Boquete! It was definitely the best view we had during our hiking in Boquete and something I will never forget. In the opposite direction, we had rolling mountains with several layers and even a rainbow appeared. It was a day where everything seemed to turn out perfectly although this is one of the things to do in Boquete that won’t be recommended at your hostel.
View full blog post: LA ARTILLERIA HIKE
LA PIEDRA DE LA INDIA VIEJA HIKE
La Piedra de la India Vieja hike has in my opinion, the best views of any hike in Boquete. However, it also has the worst trail, or from what I found… no trail. My legs had many a battle scar after this hike but boy was the rock viewpoint at the top worth it all and more. If you are up for an extremely tough jungle adventure, go for it. Otherwise, enjoy my photos and head to one of the other beautiful hikes in Boquete. That’s genuine advice, not a challenge. This was one of the toughest things to do in Panama!
At the summit, the view was totally unexpected. A jagged rock wall curved around right beneath me while mountains in all directions created an immensely atmospheric backdrop. Despite the rough journey up and the imminent rough journey down, I felt like I was on top of Boquete and I really was out here alone.
View full blog post: LA PIEDRA DE LA INDIA VIEJA HIKE
ROCK CLIMBING WALL
On the way to Bajo Mono, the location of the Lost Waterfall Trek, and many more, there is an epic Basalt rock climbing wall. The best part about it is that is completely natural. Josh and I used to run here in the morning and work out on the grass amidst the beautiful mountains. However, in the late mornings and afternoons, there were rock climbing tours that would set up and take tourists through their paces at climbing the wall.
SENDERO LOS QUETZALES
Los Senderos Quetzales, translated to the Quetzal Trail, is one of the most popular hikes near the small town of Boquete in Panama. The Boquete region has a variety of trails to choose from yet Los Senderos Quetzales remains near the top of the list for visitors. The popularity of Los Senderos Quetzales is because this trail, in the Volcan Baru National Park, provides hikers a great opportunity to spot the elusive Quetzal bird.
The Quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala as it plays an important role in numerous types of Meso-American mythology. Additionally, the Quetzal is a very striking bird with impressive green feathers on its back while on its front it is covered in striking red feathers. The Quetzal also has a long tail. All of these features make it an attractive bird for bird-watchers to travel all the way to the Chiriqui region of Panama. El Sendero Los Quetzales is one of the most popular things to do in Boquete.
View full blog post: SENDERO LOS QUETZALES: THE TRAIL OF THE FAMOUS QUETZAL
HIKE TO THE SUMMIT OF VOLCAN BARU
Volcán Barú is an active stratovolcano located in western Panama and stands at an impressive height of 3,475 meters. It is the tallest mountain in Panama and provides breathtaking views of both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.
Trekking to the summit is a challenging but rewarding experience, and the summit provides incredible views from above the clouds. Despite being an active volcano, Volcán Barú is considered safe for visitors and offers a unique opportunity to explore one of Panama’s natural wonders. It’s an overnight hike and one of the tougher things to do in Panama.
View the full blog post: 27KM VOLCAN BARU HIKE OVERNIGHT FOR EPIC SUNRISE
THINGS TO DO IN CHIRIQUI PROVINCE (OUTSIDE OF BOQUETE)
Those are all of the hikes, waterfalls, and activities that I got up to in Boquete. However, while in Boquete I made a few day trips within Chiriqui Province. None of these trips were much more than an hour by car. It is quite hard to rent a car and DIY by bus isn’t the easiest but is possible.
I have added directions and helpful information with an individual blog post to all of the activities above and below to help you also. So, below are the waterfalls, hikes, and places I visited while in Boquete that aren’t technically in the Boquete region.
ROMELIO & KIKI WATERFALL
I’m standing behind a waterfall, watching the droplets majestically float down right before my eyes. I feel like I am inside the earth, inside a chamber watching the raw power of mother nature from the inside out. I am within the heart of Kiki Waterfall in the Ngäbe-Buglé region, Chiriqui. It was the second waterfall of the day after visiting Romelio Falls earlier with two local tour guides and a group of new friends.
These two waterfalls are a little tough to reach but if you can organize a crew it is an epic adventure for a day of waterfall chasing. I have linked the details of the guides in the full blog post which is linked below.
View full blog post: ROMELIO & KIKI WATERFALL IN NGÄBE-BUGLÉ REGION
Choclon Waterfall is a beautiful twin falls at the end of a small gorge. The tiny amphitheater is the perfect place for a short hike and to hang out in the afternoon with friends on a sunny day. The water has a beautiful blue tinge to it and vines grow all around the walls of the waterfalls giving this spot a magical atmosphere.
View full blog post: CHOCLON WATERFALL IN CHIRIQUI
CASCADA DEL TRUENO WATERFALL
When the destination of the day is ‘Thunder Waterfall (Cascada Del Trueno) you know the crew is heading somewhere aggressive, powerful, and possibly a little bit extreme! Bundled into the back of a pickup truck, we wound our way through Chiriqui to Cordillera to begin the short trail. The 30-minute hike led us down into the amphitheater of dreams as the Thunder Waterfall lived up to its name, slapping a rage of spray at anything that came within a 20m radius with pure fury.
View full blog post: CASCADA DEL TRUENO (THUNDER WATERFALL)
CABELLO DE ANGEL WATERFALL
Cabella de Angel waterfall was huge! It flowed from two different sides and then converged into one, an almighty powerful force that rocketed into the pool below. The mist blew everyone and the rocks were incredibly slippery, which made it a fun experience but incredibly hard to shoot.
View Full blog post: CABELLO DE ANGEL WATERFALL
CANGILONES DE GUALACA
Los Cangilones de Gualaca is a natural canyon slot in Chiriqui. It has stood the test of time and is thousands of years old. It’s a great spot to hang out with friends, cliff jump, and swim! Cangilon means bucket in Spanish or deep vessel for collecting water. This canyon is one hell of a long bucket and an epic spot to visit in Chiriqui.
View full blog post: LOS CANGILONES DE GUALACA
Sindigo Waterfall in Chiriqui Panama is a great little spot with cliff jumping, a rope swing, and beautiful blue water. What I am saying is… welcome to paradise!
The waterfall is in the Gualaca region and is unmarked from the road. We jumped a barbed wire fence and headed down a small path. After hiking down a little path for 10-minutes we arrived at Sindigo Waterfall.
The scene was magical. Moss-covered boulders created a swimming pool, which a sweet little waterfall poured into. From the top of the boulders, you can jump in from about 4 meters. This epic little spot even had a rope swing, which flung you all the way out into the middle of the pool.
View full blog post: SINDIGO WATERFALL IN CHIRIQUI
After more than a week in the town of Boquete, I had visited many waterfalls but none so far had a sizeable cliff jump. That all changed when I paid a visit to Joguata Waterfall in Caldera. An 8-meter jump from beside a waterfall into the pool below was enough to get my adrenaline pumping for the day.
The water is quite deep and the waterfall crashes into the pool so aim just to the left of that but check the conditions first as you never know what lurks beneath the surface.
View full blog post: JOGUATA WATERFALL CLIFF JUMP
EL VALLE DE ANTON (COCLE PROVINCE)
El Valle de Anton or ‘El Valle’ for short is a town I based myself in for a month. El Valle means ‘The Valley’, and this beautiful region just a few hours out of Panama City is much more than a valley, it is a volcanic crater from many years ago. There are plentiful hikes around the rim of the crater and in the surrounding region.
LA INDIA DORMIDA HIKE
One of the most popular sunrise viewpoints in all of Anton Valley. The hike only takes about 45 minutes to summit from the town, making it a perfect way to start your morning. The loop trail takes you along the edge of the beautiful mountains of the crater, which resemble the body of a sleeping person. This is where the hike gets its name and we will delve into the Legend of the Sleeping Indian in this blog post as well as everything you need to know about hiking La India Dormida to enjoy an epic sunrise.
Legend has it that Luba, known as ‘Airflower’, was the youngest daughter of heralded Chief Urraca. Urraca was the leader of one of the many Guaymi Tribes in Anton Crater. Luba was a rebellious girl and despite her tribes fighting with the Spanish for years, she fell in love with a Spanish official who lived in the town. Yaravi was a brave warrior from the tribe who loved Luba but she didn’t love him back. Yaravi couldn’t handle this and took his own life, throwing himself off of a mountain while Luba stared in a perplexed fashion. Luba didn’t want to betray her town and in a desperate panic of crying and mourning she loses herself in the bushes and dies
Need more information? Full blog post: HIKING LA INDIA DORMIDA FOR SUNRISE
CERRO CARA IGUANA
My first hike in Cocle was a short, sweet, and eventually very wet trek to the summit of Cerra Cara Iguana. Anton Valley is actually a giant volcanic crater. It is said to be the only volcanic crater, which is inhabited. It’s pretty crazy to think that at some stage a key decision maker decided that the best place to set up camp was inside a volcanic crater.
What you have now is a beautiful town surrounded by epic mountains. In short, the Anton Valley unintentionally placed itself as a future adventure tourism destination. Cerro Cara Iguana gives you a great view of this crater. The ridge of Cerro Cara Iguana extends out towards the middle of the crater, more than any other point and it was great to do this hike early in my stay in Anton Valley. It gives you a great idea of the layout of the town and is one of my favorite places to visit in Panama.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO CARA IGUANA HIKE
Often labeled as ‘The toughest hike in Panama’, the Cerro Gaital hike will definitely challenge you while making your way up to the epic viewpoint.
Cerro Gaital leads you through a tunnel of the dense forest before hitting you with intense vertical rock climbs into the foggy summit. The hike takes less than three hours depending on how long you spend at the top. It is possible to walk to the trailhead from Anton Valley Town or you can catch a bus to the trailhead for $1.
From the top of Cerro Gaital, you have views over the whole valley and beyond. I sat atop the small cement hut eating my lunch enjoying yet another empty mountain in El Valle de Anton!
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO GAITAL HIKE
CERRO LA GAITA
Although it is not directly in El Valle de Anton, Cerro La Gaita is only a short drive or even a bus trip away from the town center. This makes it one of the best things to do in El Valle de Anton or at least nearby.
Every mountain in Anton Valley seems to surround you as you emerged from the jungle to rise above the canopy on a wooden platform. For an hour you trek up the slippery path and then the stairs that pierced through the dense jungle. You will reach the summit of Cerro La Gaita and the view over Cerro Picacho and San Carlos Lake is beautiful.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO LA GAITA HIKE
POZO AZUL WATERFALL CANYON
In what seems to be the middle of a quiet farmland region is one of the wonders of Panama. A lot of places around the world get hyped up but surprisingly Pozo Azul was spoken of as a nice spot but I didn’t expect to encounter such an epic location. In the depths of the jungle, a series of waterfalls flow down from one level to the next into crystal-clear azure pools. Rock climbing, cliff jumping, and the ultimate waterhole await you at Pozo Azul in Cocle, Panama.
Need more information? Full blog post: POZO AZUL WATERFALLS
CERRO LA SILLA
Cerro La Silla is a short journey to an epic viewpoint atop the mountains to watch the sun rise over the horizon with views of Valle de Anton and beyond! It’s interesting that Cerro Cara Iguana and India Dormida hikes are the most suggested but you don’t hear a lot about Cerro La Silla. Having experienced all three I would say it is hard to separate them all but La Silla possibly has the best views.
Just before the sun was about to break over the horizon we made it to the summit where we sat down beneath the giant cross, which seems to be common at viewpoints in Valle de Anton. We could see all the way back into the crater of Valle de Anton but also out to Cerro Picacho.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO LA SILLA ‘THE ARMCHAIR’ SUNRISE HIKE
CERRO PICACHO IN SAN CARLOS
Overlooking San Carlos Laguna, the Cerro Picacho hike in San Carlos (West Panama) is one of the best viewpoints in the region. It is a steady incline through the dense forest, which leads you over roots, through muddy paths, and underneath a beautiful canopy. The tropical conditions mean that as per usual you will be sweating, hot, and searching for air when you reach the summit.
There are two viewpoints on Cerro Picacho in San Carlos. The first is a really cool boulder that sticks out of the trail and gives a great vantage point of the lake and the other peak. The other peak is incredibly steep although I have seen a video of someone sitting on top of it. From the boulder lookout, we could see other hikes like Cerro La Gaita platform. It is a great spot to check out the other mountains in the area.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO PICACHO HIKE IN SAN CARLOS
CERRO TUREGA HIKE
Cerro Turega is an epic trail that leads you past waterfalls before up an intense incline to reach the three peaks at the summit with panoramic views! The hike is only a 6km trail. However, the hike is regularly touted as a 4-hour journey and this is because the terrain is incredibly steep and slippery making it very slow going.
There are three epic peaks but as far as I know, you can only reach the first where you can see us standing in the photos. They are very steep and I would be surprised if peaks two and three are accessible. The views are beautiful and we got a few glimpses amidst the fog and stormy clouds.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO TUREGA ‘THREE PEAKS’ HIKE
ISLA FARALLON DAY TRIP
Isla Farallon is a unique island off the coast off of Farallon on the southern coast of Panama, only a couple of hours’ drive from Panama City. We ventured down on three buses from Valle de Anton in about an hour and enjoyed a day of soaking up the sun, exploring Isla Farallon, and beach volleyball on Farallon Beach. This is a family-friendly beach with nothing but chill vibes, sun, and salt!
It only took us just over an hour to reach Farallon Beach from El Valle on two buses. Farallon Island only takes another fifteen-minute boat trip from there. I thought it would be handy in this guide as sometimes in El Valle de Anton, you forget what the beach looks like when you go on daily hikes!
Need more information? Full blog post: ISLA FARALLON AND FARALLON BEACH
OTHER PLACES TO VISIT IN COCLE PROVINCE
These are a few other random spots in Cocle province that didn’t quite fit into a popular region.
AGUILA FALLS AND CANYON
Aguila Waterfalls is one of those locations that take you into another world. I found myself wading through knee-deep in crystal clear blue water while staring up at huge walls of ferns and vines as sunlight crept in through the canopy, lighting up the canyon. This is an Indiana Jones type of adventure.
Need more information? Full blog post: AGUILA WATERFALLS AND CANYON
CERRO TRINIDAD HIKE
Cerro Trinidad is a steep hike through the jungle to an epic viewpoint out over Capiro. It isn’t very popular and subsequently, the trail is quite rough and very steep in some parts. A guide is highly suggested and hikers not in good physical condition may decide to give this hike a miss due to the incline.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO TRINIDAD HIKE IN EL CACAO
CERRO CHAME SUNRISE HIKE
Cerro Chame is a collection of ridges and rolling hills overlooking the region of Chame. The hike takes just over an hour until you reach the cross at the summit, although you can continue on much further along the ridges, which makes it a much longer hike.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO CHAME SUNRISE HIKE
30KM TIFE WATERFALL TREK
A journey of 30km with over 2000 meters of incline through the forest of Omar Torrijos National Park to reach the epic Tife Waterfall in Panama. It isn’t for the faint-hearted but it is an incredible experience and off the beaten path, to say the least! If you are game the adventure to Tife Waterfall challenges you! This was easily one of the toughest things to do in Panama!
Need more information? Full blog post: 30KM TREK TO TIFE WATERFALL
Filipinas waterfalls is a series of five different waterfalls easily accessible along a short, but interesting trail that leads you through the jungle to each spot!
The fifth and final waterfall is a double-tiered beauty. At the end of a short but narrow canyon, a slim waterfall shoots down into a little pool of blue water. It is possible to climb up the left side but it is very slippery and can be quite dangerous. However, if you do make it to the top the view is beautiful!
Need more information? Full blog post: FILIPINAS WATERFALLS IN SORA
NATIVA WATERFALL IN SORA
Nativa Waterfall is an amazing wall of water like nothing else in Panama! It’s a really unique waterfall as it is a rounded wall that pours into a tiny little pool and then shoots off sideways down the river
This huge water wall was one of my favorite waterfalls in Panama because it is just so different from the regular style of a waterfall. It’s deep enough to swim in the pool below, even though it is only a 3-meter wide pool!
Need more information? Full blog post: NATIVA WATERFALL IN SORA
LOS VALLES WATERFALL CLIFF JUMP
Los Valles Waterfall cliff jump is by far one of my favorite places to hang out in all of Panama. Taking in the sun while laying on the rocks in between massive cliff jumps is heaven on earth for me! This was one of the most fun things to do in Panama.
The biggest cliff jump is 15m and other spots are possible to jump from throughout the watering hole. The biggest factor to point out that this is not an easy place to cliff jump. Especially on the big 15-meter jump, you need to run and really push off to reach the middle of the pool below. It is dangerous if you are scared and only do a small jump or back out halfway. Don’t take this place lightly.
Need more information? Full blog post: LOS VALLES WATERFALL: THE BEST CLIFF JUMP IN PANAMA
The waterfalls of Ola are a spectacle that could be argued to be among the best series of waterfalls in Panama. Two huge waterfalls are accompanied by many smaller cascades and watering holes, which on clear days boast beautiful blue waters.
The main waterfall was a sight to behold. It was aggressive and the pool it flowed down into was a scene of carnage. Huge rocks were littered everywhere from previous falls most likely and the water smashed down onto one of the rocks spraying up with pure force.
Need more information? Full blog post: THE AMAZING WATERFALLS OF OLA
CERRO PICACHO SUNRISE HIKE IN OLA
Sitting in the long grass on top of Cerro Picacho in Ola, we slowly watched the illumination of the epic ridges all around us until we had become ants amidst a golden glow in what is one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Panama.
The sun rises directly in front of you lighting up the valley, which is littered with other epic mountains. Fog circled many of the bigger mountains and in combination with the layers of mountains, the view was incredible. Because of the sharp ridges, Cerro Picacho hike in Ola became one of my favorite hikes in Panama. It was only short but the view was just breathtaking. It is like nothing you ever expected from this country and one of the top things to do in Panama. I think this morning is one of my favorites photography-wise as well.
Manglarito Waterfall in Chame begins with an insane canyon drop, which flows down into an amphitheater with the main waterfall. Both of the waterfalls are beautiful and this jungle atmosphere is one of my favorites in Panama.
Need more information? Full blog post: MANGLARITO WATERFALL IN CHAME
LOS CAJONES DE CHAME
Hidden in the depths of Chame is a masterpiece from mother nature. Los Cajones de Chame (The draws of Chame) is one of the most unique land formations in Panama. Only 90 minutes from Panama City, it is one of the most remarkable and popular spots to visit in Panama.
Need more information? Full blog post: LOS CAJONES DE CHAME IN PANAMA
CERRO DE LA CRUZ SUNRISE HIKE
We waited in the cold, curled up behind boulders atop Cerro De La Cruz with the almighty cross towering above us. It had been an early wake-up call at 2 am and we were now patiently shivering our way towards a beautiful sunrise in the Campana National Park on the Cerro De La Cruz viewpoint hike. After patiently waiting for an hour, the sun finally started to break its way through and we started to see how beautiful the view was with the sun streaming into the valley and up onto the mountain.
This viewpoint, which is at 905 meters of altitude, was one of my favorite lookouts in Panama. Standing beneath the cross with such an epic drop below us was an insane way to start the day!
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO DE LA CRUZ HIKE IN ALTOS DE CAMPANA NATIONAL PARK
SANTA FE (VERAGUAS PROVINCE)
Santa Fe is a beautiful little town, nestled in the towering mountains of Veraguas. Almost exactly in the center of Panama, Santa Fe is one of the adventure hotspots for hikers and waterfall enthusiasts. I stayed in Santa Fe for ten days and went on a hike or visited a waterfall every single day. Not many people think about Santa Fe when considering what to do in Panama but it was one of my favorite backpacking spots in Panama.
CERRO TUTE HIKE
Cerro Tute is a viewpoint that looks out over Santa Fe from a pile of precarious rocks! I really loved Cerro Tute and it was a great first experience in Santa Fe, Veraguas. I recommend doing it as your first Santa Fe hiking trail even though it is quite long. You will get great views of the area and can even pick out a few other peaks you might want to summit also!
Read the full blog post: EPIC CERRO TUTE HIKE
ALTO DE PIEDRA WATERFALL HIKE
I now backtracked all the way to the front gate and decide that I would try the trail on the far left. It was the only trail I had not yet visited because I entered the far right trail and emerged in the middle trail. I had seemingly done a loop. But I hadn’t yet visited the far left trail so off I went. It turns out that this is actually the trail to the biggest waterfall and maybe the most popular as the trail had tires placed to help with the mud and was the most well-defined and easy to follow.
At the bottom of the trail was a huge waterfall, the biggest of the day. I felt like the waterfalls in this region just never ended but that’s Panama for you. A shallow pool once again collected the water at the bottom of this pool.
Read the full blog post: ALTO DE PIEDRA WATERFALLS HIKE
BERMEJO WATERFALL HIKE
Bermejo Waterfall was a scene of beautiful destruction. As I sat atop a wet rock, alone in the amphitheater of Bermejo, I could only envision the events that had unfolded over the years to leave this magical place in the state it remains today. Boulders the sizes of houses are covered in moss with trees growing readily from their surface. Freezing cold water swirls viciously, inviting you to test the danger. And then there is the waterfall itself. A multi-tiered, dual-directional flow of pure aggression, which slices through the earth in the middle of the Santa Fe Jungle with an exclamation point.
It’s an aggressive waterfall without a place to swim directly below it. However, the first pool is deep enough to at least cool off. I definitely suggest packing lunch and hanging out in this area for a few hours to appreciate the region and recover from your trek in!
Read full blog post: BERMEJO WATERFALL HIKE
EL SALTO WATERFALL HIKE
El Salto is a collection of 22 waterfalls (if not more) in the middle of the mountains near Santa Fe. I explored two by foot and one other with the drone. It is possible to explore all of them but takes expert knowledge of the area, ropes, and some serious skills and planning.
It’s definitely one of the longer Santa Fe hiking trails but you usually get out what effort you put in and it’s is true in this case. Remote paradise!
Read full blog post: EL SALTO WATERFALLS
NUCA DEL TORO HIKE
Amidst a myriad of amazing waterfalls and trails, Nuca Del Toro, is a basic trail without much of an epic viewpoint. However, if you give the trail a chance it can be a fun afternoon activity with a change of scenery from the Panamanian Jungle. Huge pine trees surround you on top of the hill with snippets of the mountain range visible depending on what giant boulder you can clamber onto.
Read full blog post: NUCA DEL TORO HIKE
NATURE NIGHT TRAIL
Take a walk into the dark, armed with your flashlight! In the jungle at night, the creatures come out to play and we had an epic time exploring. We saw frogs, snakes, a shy sloth, cicadas, butterflies, tarantulas, and all kinds of crazy bugs.
The interesting part is that in Santa Fe there are lots of motion-sensor cameras and Edgar showed us the photos they had captured within the last 2 years. It is pretty shocking. Jaguars, Ocelots, Pumas, and lots of other large mammals are out here in the jungle, but they are seldom seen!
We walked for about 1.5 hours total admiring all of the amazing creatures along the way. Let’s just see if the bugs are bigger in Panama. If you are interested in this experience I do recommend it. Just drop into Hostal La Qhiaand let them know. It was $25 per person and the only paid tour I did in Santa Fe. The rest of the Santa Fe hiking trails were free!
Read full blog post: NATURE NIGHT TRAIL IN THE JUNGLE
LOMA GRANDE WATERFALL HIKE
Loma Grande Waterfall near Santa Fe, Veraguas is one of the most spectacular little spots to visit in the region. Not only is this waterfall an epic natural sight but the amphitheater within which it is found is out of this world. Slopes on either side are covered in tropical plants, dripping from the spray of the waterfall. Moss-covered rocks are scattered throughout the stream that leads up to the fall. The best bit, however, is the unexplainable pool of blue water that sits to the side of the waterfall.
Read full blog post: LOMA GRANDE WATERFALL
LAS GOLONDRINAS WATERFALL
I had heard about this goliath waterfall but never envisioned it to be quite so epic. Las Golondrinas Waterfall is a mammoth falls near Santa Fe, Veraguas. The trek to the falls takes only 20 minutes but leads you through a wonderland of vines and river crossings before revealing the gigantic waterfall.
The trail is very clear to follow and has handrails in some points. However, because of the conditions, it is very muddy and you will get wet and dirty on this trail. If the trail doesn’t get you wet, the river crossing will.
Read full blog post: LAS GOLONDRINAS WATERFALL TRAIL
EL SALTO DEL LIMON WATERFALL
Multiple streams poured over the edge of the cliff, like lines of tears seeping out of the earth. El Salto del Limon is a beautiful waterfall that has a quiet, peaceful atmosphere rather than an aggressive show of raw power like many of the other waterfalls in Panama.
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LA SILAMPA WATERFALL HIKE
A rocky path carves its way through the rolling hills of Calobre. For an hour of steep trekking, curious hikers can only imagine what paradise may be found at the end of their journey. The trail finally ends, and what is found is truly an oasis, a crystal clear oasis. Flowing down for a river through the mountains, a waterfall cascades into the azure blue water, which then flows into several small lagoons before finally free-falling into another waterfall to disappear into the river below. This my friends is a mountain paradise.
Silampa is one of my favorite places in Panama and it’s the perfect location for an all-day hangout with a packed lunch and good company. The trek is only an hour one-way, which makes it the perfect weekend adventure in Panama.
Read full blog post: LA SILAMPA WATERFALL HIKE
ISLA ESCUDO DE VERAGUAS CAMPING TRIP
Locals will tell you it is the last frontier or the final hidden paradise in Panama. Escudo de Veraguas means ‘The Shield of Veraguas’ and it is one of the most amazing locations in Central America. It is home to the elusive three-toed pygmy sloth, which at times swims in the crystal clear waters of the mangroves in this tropical island oasis. Escudo de Veraguas is a must-see place in Panama!
Santa Catalina is the ultimate beach and surf destination in Panama. It’s a bit of a hidden gem but still has a few beautiful resorts and fun hostels to host you while you kick back and enjoy the chill, coastal vibes.
SURF AT LA PUNTA
La Punta has built a reputation as being one of the best waves in Central America because of its year-round offshore and consistency, which is seen almost nowhere else in the region. It breaks right every day between April and October. With a tide sweeping in and out by quite some distance, surfers wait for high tide to paddle directly out from Hotel Santa Catalina or nearby entrance points.
The most popular section at La Punta surf break is the outside section. It gets dispersed down the long point, especially during high tide. The offshore winds get strong in the afternoon.
LEARN TO SURF AT PLAYA ESTERO
If La Punta break looks a bit too crazy or advanced for you, that is no problem in Santa Catalina. Just down the hill at the other end of the village is Playa Estero. This huge stretch of beach is home to some kinder, rolling waves. These are perfect for beginners of all ages. Kids and first-timers can be seen catching their first-ever waves here all day long.
You can rent a board for $5 right on the beach from local surf vendors who also offer lessons. If you have never surfed before I suggest taking at least a half-hour lesson so you have your feet right and your technique under your belt. Learning to surf is one of the best things to do in Santa Catalina.
Read the full blog post: 7 BEST BEACHES IN SANTA CATALINA
HANG OUT AT PLAYA SANTA CATALINA
Playa Santa Catalina is the second black sand beach of Santa Catalina. It is the hub of activity as it is situated right in the heart of the town. Cafes are situated nearby as well as scuba, kayak and snorkel rental stores.
During the day the beach is a great place to hang out and it never gets too busy. Groups of locals take to the volleyball court in the evening with fun social games that even tourists are welcome to join. Down near the water, the soccer games get into full swing on the slick black sand. I had an epic sunset soccer game and it was one of my favorite things to do in Santa Catalina.
TREK TO PUNTA ROCA
Punta Roca is a little trail that starts at the far-left part of Playa Santa Catalina. It takes you through some farm fields and along the coast for about thirty minutes until you end up at Punta Roca. It is an area along the coastline with lots of tight coves, inlets, and secret beaches. I walked out to Punta Roca once and it was kind of strange. You had to pass through what seemed like private farms but the fences had a little gap made for you to pass through.
The trail wasn’t clear the whole way but I ended up getting there in the end. When I arrived it was a huge storm. I decided to fly back with the drone the next day from Playa Santa Catalina to explore the region from the air. It’s one of the less popular things to do in Santa Catalina but it is an adventure for sure!
SEE THE REFLECTIONS AT LA COQUITA
La Coquita is one of my favorite beaches in Santa Catalina because of the reflections. It reminds me of Bali beaches, which give epic black sand reflections every night. When the sunset gives you some color you want to be at La Coquita.
Because of the huge stretch of sand, it is a popular spot for horseback riding and we even took the cruiser bikes all the way down here. On our visit to La Coquita, we watched an insane storm come straight past us as the horses were riding through. It was a pretty surreal ten minutes and the storm never even touched us. Visiting La Coquita for sunset would have to be one of my favorite things to do in Santa Catalina because of the reflections.
EXPLORE PUNTA BRAVA
If you walk down Playa Estero and then all the way down La Coquita you will then cross over the rocks to Punta Brava. It will take you about thirty or so minutes to complete the walk. It is a very rocky beach and this is evident at low tide. It isn’t at all like Playa Estero or La Coquita when considering how much sandy beach they have. Visiting Punta Brava isn’t one of the popular things to do in Santa Catalina but it’s a great spot to finish a walk from Playa Estero.
At high tide, it is a great surf spot where the waves can grow well beyond 6 feet. There are a right and a left wave. The right can be hollow and the fast left begins to work when there are more than 6 feet of well.
KAYAK TO ISLA CATALINA
Santa Catalina Island or Isla Catalina as it is known locally is a beautiful island sitting just off the coast of Santa Catalina in Veraguas. Snorkeling and a virgin white sand beach are the highlights of the island. You can expect a peaceful afternoon with tourists rarely venturing out to the island. You can either rent a boat to drop you there in a few minutes or head out on a kayak adventure to Santa Catalina Islands as we did. For me, this is one of the best beaches in Santa Catalina if not the best beach. However, it takes some effort to get out there.
The back side of the island is all rocks and the front side is a long sandy beach. It was a great place to grab a tan and hang out in the sun for a while. We explored along the shore keeping our eyes out for a trail we had heard about.
This day was epic and kayaking to Isla Catalina was easily one of the best things to do in Santa Catalina!
Read the full blog post: KAYAKING TO SANTA CATALINA ISLAND IN PANAMA
TAKE A DAY TRIP TO COIBA NATIONAL PARK
MAKE A DAY TRIP OR STAY OVERNIGHT ON CEBACO ISLAND
Less than an hour away from Santa Catalina by boat is another amazing destination for whale spotting, snorkeling, and island hopping. Cebaco Island is a beautiful palm tree-laden paradise and the best part about it, you will be the only one there!
There is only one hotel on Cebaco Island called Cebaco Sunrise and there are less than 300 locals living on the island. I spent 48 hours on Cebaco Island and didn’t see another tourist or even another local. From Cebaco Sunrise we were completely isolated in our own little paradise. I walked up and down the coast in solitude, exploring lagoons, waterfalls, and caves. It’s not often you feel like you have an entire island to yourself!
Read the full blog post: CEBACO ISLAND IN VERAGUAS
PLACES TO VISIT NEAR PANAMA CITY
Panama City isn’t my favorite region in Panama but if you find yourself in the city for a few days, these adventures will keep you busy.
ANCON HILL VIEWPOINT
Ancon Hill is the most popular viewpoint in Panama City, with views over the Panama Canal, city center, and Casco Viejo old town region. The climb up Ancon Hill (Cerro Ancon) in Panama City takes only 30 minutes. The incline is quite steep but it is gradual and on a paved road. This is a leisurely climb suitable for kids, dogs, and hikers of all abilities.
Once you reach the top there are two viewing platforms. Well, there are actually three but only two are legal. The first platform has a bench and a little viewing hut with good views over Casco Viejo old town. The second viewpoint is the most popular with a big seating area and great views back across the city center and the ocean.
READ THE FULL BLOG POST: ANCON HILL VIEWPOINT
CERRO CEDRO VIEWPOINT
Cerro Cedro is arguably the best viewpoint of Panama City. At just over 500ft above sea-level, you will have great views of Panama City, the business hub of Central America. The part I love about this viewpoint is that you are seemingly in the Jungle staring out at the metropolis through the branches. Howler monkeys scream nearby to confirm that you are indeed in the wild despite your proximity to the urban jungle.
READ FULL BLOG POST: CERRO CEDRO IN THE METROPOLITAN NATURAL PARK
PLANTATION TRAIL IN SOBERANIA NATIONAL PARK
Panama City can get quite crazy at times amidst the traffic and the urban jungle. However, the beauty of Panama is that you are never far from the jungle or an adventure. Just a 28km drive from Panama City is Soberania National Park. Inside the park, you will find several trails with one of the most popular being the 14km Plantation Trail.
READ THE FULL BLOG POST: THE PLANTATION TRAIL IN SOBERANIA NATIONAL PARK
JAGUAR FALLS HIKE IN KALU YALA
Jaguar Falls is a beautiful waterhole and waterfall at the end of a 5.3km hike through the jungle. It’s called Jaguar Falls because it is indeed a site where the Jaguar is present at night. It is not known how many but sightings are not uncommon. During the day, however, it is safe to visit Jaguar Falls. There is a great cliff jump of about 8m or even higher at the falls too! This is my favorite hike near Panama City.
READ THE FULL BLOG POST: JAGUAR FALLS HIKE AT KALU YALA
SAN BLAS ISLANDS
The journey from Colombia to Panama is not a straightforward transit. The dangerous Darien Gap Jungle makes it impossible to pass through overland on a bus or via car. The most common way to reach Panama from Colombia is to fly to Panama City. However, we found that the tickets were $250 USD one way, which is quite expensive given the distance of the flight. The next option is to sail or take a boat from Cartagena to Panama City, which sounded like the most adventurous option. We organized a 3-night/4-day San Blas Islands tour boat trip from Colombia to Panama, which costs $399 USD.
The San Blas Islands were epic. We did some amazing snorkeling, island-hopped, and had some tense beach volleyball games. The nights were spent sleeping in hammocks and the days were spent exploring different islands, meeting the local indigenous tribes, and hanging out at the beautiful beaches.
View the full blog post: SAN BLAS ISLANDS TOUR
BOCAS DEL TORO
Bocas Del Toro is the one destination in Panama other than the city that most travelers do visit. With the promise of tropical conditions, blue waters, sloths, and beaches can you blame them? It’s definitely a beautiful place full of great snorkel spots, empty islands, and beach shack getaways. I spent a few nice days hanging out in Bocas before the bad weather forced me to head to the mountains to go hiking. Bocas Del Toro is one of the most popular places to visit in Panama.
I don’t travel for luxury villas, but when your villa is over the water that is a really cool feeling. I was lucky enough to shoot for Azul Paradise and enjoy their resort for a few days. It is super expensive at more than $300 per night but some places in the Maldives are $5000 a night so if you do want that over-water experience and luxury getaway you could do it in Bocas Del Toro for much less than other locations around the world.
SPOT A SLOTH
There are many places to spot a sloth in Panama. I saw them on hikes near Panama City and in Campana. However, they are quite common in Bocas Del Toro. We did a little river cruise while on Bastimentos and our guide managed to spot several sloths. They are pretty difficult to spot and don’t move much but you may just get lucky.
ISLAND HOPPING IN BOCAS DEL TORO
You really can’t go wrong with island hopping in Bocas. There are so many trips offered and they all lead to beautiful islands with snorkeling spots. Try Zapatos Island or just ask a local for their favorite spot if you don’t want to join one of the group tours, which is a more economical option.
Wow! You made it this far. I made it this far. That’s it guys, this is my adventure guide to all of the best things to do in Panama. I hoped you enjoyed planning your trip based on some of the spots I visited and of course, I hope you love Panama as much as I do!
HAVE YOU CHECKED OUT MY OTHER PANAMA GUIDES
- 70 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN PANAMA: The ultimate guide to exploring the whole country!
- 26 AMAZING WATERFALLS IN PANAMA: The ultimate guide to waterfall chasing in Panama.
- 6 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS IN PANAMA: The guide for thrill-seekers and adrenaline hunters.
- 37 AMAZING HIKES IN PANAMA: All of the best hiking trails. Many you’ve never heard of!
- 18 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN BOQUETE: Hiking, waterfalls, and volcanoes.
- 12 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN EL VALLE DE ANTON: My favorite place to base in Panama.
- 10 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN SANTA CATALINA: Surf, hike, swim, kayak, and explore.
I hope you enjoy my guides and have a great time exploring Panama!
CONTACT JERRY THE LOCAL GUIDE (MY BEST FRIEND IN PANAMA)
If you need a local guide or are looking for tips to travel through Panama I suggest contacting, Jerry, one of my best friends from Panama. He runs group tours to off-the-beaten-path locations like Escudo de Veraguas and Bayano Caves. He is a local, indigenous guide who is incredibly funny, honest, and knows Panama by the back of his hand. We explored all of Cocle together and went on some insane adventures and he became like a brother to me. If you have any questions or want help, tours, guides, or tips he is your man.
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