If Panama isn’t on your family travel wish list, read on! For the culture, history, adventure, beach, nature, and dreamy hotels, all just a five-hour flight from the east coast, it’s a no-brainer for families ready for a multi-stop itinerary. Read on for our eight-day, three-stop trip plan to Panama City, Boquete and Bocas del Toro, and get in touch when you’re ready to book your next big trip.
Day One: Welcome to Panama!
Arrive on major carriers including United, Delta, American, COPA and more from the east coast, or via Houston and Atlanta from west coast, then take a 30-minute private transfer from Tocumen International airport to the city’s charming, waterfront historic quarter, Casco Viejo. Here, check in at the American Trade Hotel, a lovingly restored boutique hotel with just 50 rooms, a rooftop pool and in-house jazz club. Stay at the American Trade Hotel
Day Two: Esperanza Social Venture Club Tour
After getting your bearings among Casco’s cobblestone streets and restaurant-lined plazas, set off for a two-hour tour with Esperanza Social Venture Club. A branch of the well-established Foundation Calicanto, the non-profit organization aims to reintegrate the former gang members of this rapidly changing neighborhood. The Esperanza walking tour focuses on the gang members’ former lives as “children of the streets” and includes access to restricted buildings and stories from the gang members who lived there. The majority of the fee is donated to the foundation. Stay at the American Trade Hotel
Day Three: Miraflores Locks & Flight to Boquete
Set off early for a visit to the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal. Scoot around the visitors center, grab a coffee and be on the viewing platform in time to see the enormous cargo ships transit through the locks. Back in Casco Viejo, get an insider’s take on the burgeoning neighborhood in the care of a local, bilingual guide. Highlights include Plaza Bolivar and the Iglesia de San Jose. After check out, transfer to local Albrook airport for a one-hour flight to David with Air Panama and transfer to Boquete. Stay at Finca Lerida Boutique Hotel
Day Four: White Water Rafting
Experience this heart-pumping adventure with trained bilingual guides and top quality equipment for your comfort and safety. For rafters of all experience, the Río Chiriquí is a classic Class III run that offers only fun whitewater. Stay at Finca Lerida Boutique Hotel
Day Five: Honey Farm & Zip Line Tour
Visit a private honey farm in the highlands and learn about the secret life of bees and the complex process behind the production of honey. Save time to wander the property’s beautiful gardens before a unique honey tasting from the farm’s own product. It will give you the energy boost you need to tackle a 3.5-kilometer zip line across the canopy of a beautiful cloud forest. Expect to see centuries-old trees and even the odd monkey and quetzal sighting. In the afternoon, transfer back to David for a private flight to Bocas del Toro. Stay at Tranquilo Bay Bocas
Days Six - Seven: Beach Time & Eco-Touring
Between the Panamanian jungle and Caribbean Sea, Tranquilo Bay is an owner-operated eco-lodge that puts bird watching, hiking, snorkeling, fishing trips, beach time, and much more on your doorstep.
Day Eight: Back to Casco Viejo & Home
Transfer back to Isla Colon and on to Bocas del Toro airport for the 45-minute flight back to Panama City for your international flight home.
Other Hotels We Love...
IN PANAMA CITY Located in Casco Viejo, Las Clementinas is owned by one of the architects of the neighborhood's grand revival and has a home-away-from-home vibe with just six apartment-like "chambers" in a grand corner townhouse. The once popular downstairs cafe is now under renovation and will reopen as Casa Bruja restaurant in fall 2017.
IN BOCAS DEL TORO For the ultimate property takeover, Sweet Bocas is a home on stilts built off a private island in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. Here, the activities manual extends to whatever you can dream up in the seven guest rooms, open-plan living space, wraparound deck, and, of course, the gin-clear water. Snorkeling, spear fishing, paddleboarding, dolphin sightings and jungle walks are all top of the agenda.
IN COLON While the city/jungle/beach triangle is a classic Panama itinerary, consider a beach and jungle combo at magical El Otro Lado in historic Portobelo Bay. Less than two hours cross country from Panama City, the property started as an artists' hideaway and its creative roots are on proud display from the wood working studio on the grounds to the eclectic artwork in each of the four private guest suites and beautiful central lounge.