Why You Need to Visit These Top 5 Places in Panama
“What made you choose Panama?”
“What’s in Panama?”
“Panama…. Florida, right?”
These were a few of the many questions I was bombarded with, once I had excitedly announced to my family and friends where my winter vacation would be. Truth be told, I couldn’t answer these seemingly simple questions at first. I booked Panama on a complete whim. I knew I wanted to travel to a Spanish speaking country during my university’s winter break but wasn’t sure where. So, I pulled up a map on my phone and my eyes were instantly drawn to Panama. I then googled a few pics, found a cheap flight and enlisted my best gal pal. Now whenever people ask me. “What’s in Panama?” or “What is there to do?” I’m able to answer them with glee because Panama was the dream vacation, I never knew I needed. If you are going to Panama here is a list of my top places to visit.
San Blas is a group of 365 islands in the Caribbean Sea split between Panama and Colombia. These islands are home to the indigenous Guna Yala people, who are kind enough to share a few of these islands with the public. Getting to the island is fairly easy from Panama City. A majority of the hostels and hotels in the area offer packages ranging from $150-200 depending on your activities.
Most of these activities include island hopping to the various islands. These islands are tiny with little to do but swim and enjoy your view under the palm trees, but that’s exactly what I wanted. If you like clear blue water, relaxing and endless cervezas then San Blas is perfect for you!
Casco Viejo is the old part of Panama City. Casco Viejo is the perfect contrast to Panama City’s large modern architecture with its plethora of colonial style colorful buildings. This bright and vibrant area is home to all the best eateries and bars in the city. My favorite restaurant was Restaurante Calicanto, which had the best lasagna I have ever eaten!
Taboga island is the closest beach to Panama City. If you’re staying in Panama City, it is the perfect island to getaway for the day. Ferry rides are 30 minutes long and leave from the Flamenco Marina for about $20 round trip.
Panama City is arguably the heart of the entire country. I stayed in the center of the city at the lovely Zebulo Hostel. The city’s beauty is a force to be reckoned with especially during the night. My trip was during the new year, so the entire city was filled with sparkling blue and white lights on every block. Your eyes can’t help but be mesmerized.
Pearl Islands are another group of islands off the coast of Panama in the south Pacific Ocean. These islands are home to an abundance of wildlife and natural resources. If you have ever watched Survivor this is where the 7th season was filmed!
Panama was the dream vacation I never expected, because it is truly a hidden gem few people discuss. I knew little about Panama before I booked my trip and I was not able to find as much information online as other touristy countries. However, I’ve found that throughout my many travels, the countries you have the least expectations of turn out to be the most rewarding.
When I visited Italy the previous year, although it was breathtakingly beautiful. I couldn’t help but leave somewhat disappointed. I had spent my entire existence dreaming about the day I’d travel to Italy. When I finally went, those grand expectations could not compare. My trip to Panama taught me that marvelous places can be found anywhere around the world. So, it is our duty to challenge ourselves to travel somewhere we’d least expect.