Keeping with tradition, I will be returning to Central America this year for my 27th birthday. And this year is Panama! Due to a hectic year, I had to cancel travel plans to Croatia and Portugal earlier this year. But the good news is that I have a bunch of vacation days to spend in Panama! I’ll be there just shy of 2 weeks and covering much of the same destinations that were covered by my favorite travel blogger; the late Rachel Jones, AKA Hippie In Heels. My Panama itinerary was absolutely inspired by her amazing coverage of this destination and I hope to one day be as successful of a a travel blogger as she was.
For my Panama itinerary, I plan on keeping it pretty jam-packed. It’s how I like to travel! I like trying to soak up as much as I can and keep my trips a mix of adventure and relaxation. Since Panama is such a small country, 12 days is a good amount of time to experience a wide variety of this tropical paradise. If you had an even 2 weeks, I would suggest spending more time in Panama City or adding a day to your San Blas trip.
- Day 1: Land in Panama City, stay overnight
- Day 2: Depart for San Blas sailing trip
- Day 3: San Blas Islands
- Day 4: Head back to Panama City, stay overnight
- Day 5: Fly from Panama City to David, drive down to Boca Chica
- Day 6: Boca Chica
- Day 7: Boca Chica
- Day 8: Fly back to Panama City, stay overnight
- Day 9: Depart Panama City for Bocas Del Toro
- Day 10: Bocas Del Toro
- Day 11: Bocas Del Toro
- Day 12: Depart Bocas Del Toro early morning for afternoon flight home from Panama City
My accommodations in Panama City will likely be a hostel, as I won’t be spending much time in the city but will need to leave my bag there for my trip to the San Blas Islands. For now, I am considering the Selina Casco Viejo and The Magnolia Inn. I stayed at a Selina in Costa Rica and had a great experience (which you can read about here) but I know they can be hit or miss. Since I’ll only be there a few nights total, I’m not too concerned. Fortunately, there is no shortage of ultra-cool hostels in Panama City on HostelWorld.
San Blas Islands:
For my trip to the San Blas or Guna Yala Islands, it was quite difficult to find trips that were within my budget. A few years ago, you could take a Catamaran for a few days visiting multiple islands for $2,000 (that’s for a NICE catamaran and certainly better if traveling with multiple people). Which is already outside of my personal budget… But now that cost is around $5,000-$6,000. I knew I wanted to visit multiple islands and spend multiple days, rather than a day trip. After much research, a wonderful company called Cacique Cruiser reached out to me. Their prices are affordable and while their trips start at only 2 days/1 night, you can extend that for a reasonable cost.
After having such a difficult time myself and scouring the internet for options I wouldn’t have to sell organs to afford, I am looking forward to covering this experience in a more in-depth review after my trip is over. Their customer service has been impeccable so far and their responses speedy so I’m optimistic it will be fantastic.
Boca Chica (Gulf of Chiriqui)
To say I’m excited about the accommodations I snagged in Boca Chica would be a HUGE understatement! I found the most beautiful villa on booking.com for only $100/nt. While this is definitely more than I’m used to spending for a place to stay while traveling, I couldn’t pass it up. I think the photos explain why.
I have not decided if I’ll be renting a car for this leg of my trip and have been communicating with the property owners to figure out logistics and they have been very helpful and quick to respond.
The house is called Villa Azul and the house has wifi, a full kitchen, private pool and is perfectly decorated.
Bocas Del Toro:
For my visit to Bocas Del Toro, I’ll be staying on Bastimentos Island at a gorgeous boutique hotel called The Firefly. I found this hotel while in an internet rabbit hole and I’m still not sure how I found it. It doesn’t come up in Google unless you search for it exactly and I’ve kept the details hush-hush because I selfishly didn’t want the word to get out about this gem!
This stay is definitely a splurge but I knew as soon as I saw it that I had to go and it would be my birthday present to myself. (Along with the rest of this trip… No one treats me like I treat myself!)
I’ll be staying in their Water Bungalow and I can’t wait to explore the beautiful beaches of Bocas Del Toro and hopefully meet some fellow travelers and maybe party a bit… I mean, it’s what the islands are known for!
This hotel has also had wonderful customer service so far, responding to my emails quickly and professionally. They have great reviews on TripAdvisor and Booking and I’m sure I’ll be adding another 5-star as well!
I’m so excited to be checking another Central American country off my list this year. This region of the world has so much to offer and has really stolen my heart. With such an immense level of biodiversity, warm, hospitable people and the amazing food, this part of the planet should be moving up everyone’s travel bucket lists.
Panama makes a great gateway to begin your journey either down to South America or up to explore more of Central America. If you plan on doing so, you may find my coverage of Belize and Costa Rica helpful as well!