Panama with Kids: Family Destination Guide

Everything you need to know about travelling to Panama with your family

Panama With Kids: Table of Contents

Coffee plantations in Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama

 

Panama With Kids

Some of the following posts are scheduled for publishing over the next few weeks. Sign up to our newsletter and follow us on social media to receive updates (links in footer)

 

Panama with Kids: Where to go (coming soon!)

Panama with Kids: Best places to visit on Pacific Coast (coming soon!)

Panama with Kids: Best places to visit on Caribbean Coast (coming soon!)

Panama with Kids: Best places to visit Inland (coming soon!)

 

Panama City

Panama with Kids: 10 Things to do with Kids in Panama City (coming soon!)

Visiting the Amazing BioMuseo

Whale Watching in Panama with Kids

Coastal Cleanup 2014, Panama City

The Punta Culebra Nature Centre

The Panama Canal with Kids: The Miraflores Visitor Centre

Discover the Metropolitan Park!

A Walk on the Wild Side up Ancon Hill

A Day Out at Summit Park

 

Weekend Breaks from Panama City

The Complete Family Guide to Visiting Portobelo

 

Gamboa

Panama with Kids: Exploring the Panama Canal on a Boat Tour of Lake Gatun 

Panama with Kids: The Panama Canal: The Culebra Cut

Family Hotel Review: Gamboa Rainforest Resort, Gamboa, Panama

 

Lake Bayano

Panama with Kids: Trapped in a cave by a deadly snake!

 

El Valle de Anton

Panama with Kids: 10 Things to do with Kids in El Valle de Anton, Panama

Panama with Kids: 5 Fantastic Walks in El Valle de Anton, Panama

Family Hotel Review: Casa Mariposa, El Valle de Anton, Panama

 

Pedasi

Family Hotel Review: Casa Lajagua, Pedasi, Panama (coming soon!)

Panama with Kids: 10 Things to do with Kids in Pesasi (coming soon!)

 

San Blas:

Panama with Kids: Sailing in San Blas

Family Hotel Review: Yandup Island Lodge, San Blas, Panama

 

Chiriqui

Family Hotel Review: Riverside Inn, Boquete, Panama

Hotel Review: Los Quetzalez Ecolodge & Spa, Guadalupe, Chiriqui, Panama

10 Things to do with Kids in Boquete (coming soon!)

Hotel Review: Finca Lerida (coming soon!)

 

Bocas del Toro

Family Hotel Review: La Loma Jungle Lodge (coming soon!)

 

Suggested Itineraries

My Family Adventure: A Panama Jungle Adventure

 

Add Panama to your Bucket List!

Bookmark our Family Guide to Panama by adding this image to one of your Pinterest boards. See How To Create a Pintastic Bucket List!

Panama with Kids: Everything you need to know!

Panama Events Calendar

Check our calendar of family-friendly events in Panama

Panama: Why You’ll Love It

Sailing in San Blas, Panama

Sailing in San Blas, Panama

 

  • Relatively undiscovered: Positioned next door to the popular Central American destination of Costa Rica, Panama is the region’s best kept secret.
  • Easy and Safe: Best known for the Panama Canal (2014 marked the 100th anniversary of this engineering marvel), the country also happens to be a wonderful introduction to Latin American and a great – and easy – place to explore as a family.
  • Wildlife: The country is home to diverse and unique eco systems, some of the world’s most accessible rainforests, pristine beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts (at the country’s narrowest point, it’s only a 2.5 hour drive between the two) and coffee plantations aplenty. It also has some of the best bird watching in the world; Panama is home to more species of birds than the USA and Canada combined!
  • Culture: In Panama City the UNESCO protected Casco Viejo, the atmospheric old quarter, is a wonderful place to visit. It’s being gentrified at a great pace and is now home to excellent restaurants, lively bars and boutique shops. Visit Panama and you’ll also find no less than seven Indigenous cultures, each with its own traditions and artworks.
  • Adventure: Families looking for off-the-beaten-path experiences can go zip lining, horseback riding or white water rafting in the highlands or explore the magical San Blas Islands by boat. However you choose to experience Panama,  you should definitely plan to do it soon.

 

Panama: Why The Kids Will Love It

Hugging a sloth in El Valle de Anton, Panama

Hugging a sloth in El Valle de Anton, Panama

 

  • Easy: If you’re looking to ease the family into Latin America then Panama is the place to do it. This Central American country is safe, easy to travel around and with lots to see and do.
  • Nature: The country’s wild nature is incredible and the flora and fauna play a staring role in any Panama trip. This region is more biodiverse than almost anywhere else on earth; Panama boasts 125 endemic animal species, 218 mammal species, 226 reptiles and 950 birds. At times it feels like you could spot almost any tropical animal in the world here, from iguanas and capuchin monkeys to anteaters, boa constrictors, armadillos and the rare Quetzal. Not to mention the whales, dolphins, tropical fish and more that call the oceans home.
  • Bring history lessons to life with a visit to the Panama Canal, an incredible system of locks and artificial lakes, or by spotting the rusted cannons once used as defence against pirate attacks. Also in Panama City is the spectacular Biomuseo, a child-friendly museum that explores how Panama bridged the two Americas.
  • Further afield there are pristine islands and jungly hills, nature reserves and vibrant rain forests, beautiful beaches and surf breaks and action-packed adventures to suit the most adrenaline-charged kids. It’s an awe-inspiring place for children, we say that you should go now.

Panama With Kids: When To Go

molas

High Season: mid Dec – April is the dry season and considered the best time to visit most regions of Panama.

Rainy Season: April to December marks the rainy season with short and heavy downpours.

National Holidays: The main holidays for Panamanians are Easter, November festivals, Christmas and New Year. If planning to travel over these periods, make sure to book hotels well in advance (and be aware that hotel rates will increase during these periods).

Panama with Kids: FAQ

The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal

Capital: Panama City

Time: GMT – 05:00

Language: Spanish is the main language spoken.

Voltage: 110 v

Flight time from the UK: 11 hours

Visas: Visa requirements vary by nationality and sometimes change. If you are planning on visiting Panama we advise checking with the Panamanian embassy or consulate in your own country for the latest information. Panama Embassy in London, UK Panama Consulate in London, UK The Embassy of Panama in Washington DC, USA

Health & Vaccinations: Visitors need to take special precautions against illnesses not normally encountered at home. Contact your doctor well in advance of your departure date to ensure that you receive all the necessary vaccinations. Country specific information and advice is published by Travel Health Pro. Bring any medication with you in its original, labelled container. A signed prescription note from your doctor is useful to have. Pharmacies are wide spread and stock the basic essentials. Private medical care is available in most major cities whereas facilities in remote areas, such as the San Blas Islands, can be very limited. See the NHS’s fitfortravel website for further advice.

Getting There: Airlines  Panama City’s International airport is Tocumen International Airport (PTY), approx 35km north-east of the city. The flight time from London, U.K. is 11 hours. A list of airlines serving PTY.

Money: Panama uses the US dollar (known locally as ‘the balboa’) as its currency.  ATMS are found in most towns and cities and credit cards are accepted.

Safety: Most of Panama is very safe. The one exception is the border region between Panama and Colombia, which is considered dangerous due to Colombian rebel groups and drug traffickers. Some neighbourhoods in Panama City are better avoided, in particular El Chorrillo, Curundu and El Marañón. The old quarter, Casco Viejo (also called San Felipe), has traditionally had a bad reputation but is gentrifying rapidly and is perfectly safe to visit during the day time. At night, the main streets and plazas, as well as the district of bars and restaurants toward the point, are also safe, but visitors should exercise caution as they move north along Avenida Central towards El Chorillo. Please consult your own government’s travel advisory for safety advice such as fco.gov.uk

Dress: Anything goes dress wise! Bring a pair of long trousers if you are worried about mosquito bites, and some walking shoes for jungle treks. The sun can be very strong and we recommend bringing a high factor suncream as well as UV rash vests for swimming. You can buy a Panama hat on arrival!

Recommended Reading for San Blas

The Panama Cruising Guide by Eric Bauhaus (recommended and used by our captain)

Kuna Art and Shamanism: An Ethnographic Approach: an insight into the Kuna craft of nuchukana, wooden carvings used in healing rituals.

The Mola: Traditional Kuna Textile Art: This guide to the textile art of mola making examines design sources and influences and offers tips on collecting and preserving these colourful multilayered appliques.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe: This classic tale of shipwreck and survival seems a fitting read in the landscape of San Blas. Recommended for older kids (9 years and up)

My First Book of World Flags: Fun for kids to spot and identify flags on boats (remember to bring the binos too!).

If you use a kindle remember to download your books before you travel (there is no wifi here!)

Panama With Kids: Our YouTube Playlist

To access the menu, click on the icon in top left corner:

Panama With Kids: Inspire me!

You can also find all our Panama blog posts listed in the Table of Contents above.

The Panama Canal: The Culebra Cut

Visiting the Panama Canal: One of the best places to admire The Culebra Cut is from the top of a 100-foot (30m) high observatory tower in Gamboa. And getting to the tower is half the fun.

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Panama with Kids: Trapped in a cave by a deadly snake!

Panama with kids: Exploring the caves at Lake Bayano we became separated from some of the children by an ‘equis’ – one the most dangerous snakes in Panama!

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Panama With Kids: Visiting the Amazing Biomuseo

Undoubtedly the best museum for kids in the capital (if not the country) is Panama’s Biomuseo. Designed by Frank Gehry, the colourful, origami-like museum showcases the country’s incredible biodiversity.

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My Family Adventure: Sailing in San Blas, Panama

My Family Adventure: Sailing in San Blas, Panama with kids: Victoria Westmacott and her family take a catamaran trip to discover the magical, untouched San Blas Islands in Panama.

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The Panama Canal with Kids: A Boat Tour of Lake Gatun

Panama with Kids: There are many ways to experience Panama’s star attraction but one of my favourite ways to explore the canal is on a tour of the backwaters and Gatun Lake.

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