Our Panama family vacation happened a little bit by accident. Costa Rica was our original destination, but we could not find flights with our frequent flyer points. My husband suggested neighboring Panama as an alternative, and it most certainly fit the bill for a fun family holiday.
What I was looking for in this holiday was some type of jungle experience for my family. I wanted us to see monkeys, toucans, and sloths in their natural habitat, rather than behind bars in a zoo. I had waited for this type of adventure until my children were both in grade school, since many of the places we wanted to visit would be easier with children old enough to understand that you donʼt try to pick up the beautiful red tree frog. If you’re planning a trip to Panama with kids, this is what we did and we loved it.
Guest post and photos by Tara Cannon of Pint Size Pilot
Panama with kids
Although we enjoyed all of our Panama adventure, the three best places to visit in Panama with kids are Bocas del Toro, Gatun Lake near Panama City and the San Blas Islands. In Bocas del Toro, we stayed in a treehouse at La Loma Jungle Lodge and Chocolate Farm, and spent our days seeing how many species we could identify from their guide book.
On the next stage of our adventure we stayed at a floating barge on Lake Gatun, near the Panama Canal. Jungleland is one part attraction and one part unique hotel stay. Although the appearance of wildlife is a little scripted (the monkeys show up for the peanuts), we very much enjoyed our stay (especially after the day trippers returned to Panama City for the night.). For more chances to see wildlife near Panama City, take a look at this post on visiting Monkey Island. And if you’re visiting the capital, then take a look at this post on things to do in Panama City.
Why we love Panama
The best part of out trip was the three nights we spent on a sail boat visiting the islands of the Guna Yala (or the San Blas Islands as they are also referred to). Not only did the experience allow us to spend our afternoons sailing between near deserted islands, but we were also able to learn about the fascinating history of the indigenous Guna tribe and admire their the beautiful handicrafts.
Three things you should definitely do in Panama
1. There are plenty of wildlife experiences to be had in Panama. Do not leave the country without spending some time in the jungle.
2. A boating day trip in Bocas del Toro’s protected marine park is a must to see pods of dolphins and to enjoy some wonderful snorkelling.
3. Even if you don’t get as far as the San Blas Islands to learn about the Guna tribe, there are a number of other indigenous groups around Panama that will welcome visitors to their villages. They are well worth a day trip.
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