For adventurous families, travelling to Panama with kids is an unforgettable experience. From jungle hikes, to whale-watching tours and sailing trips among Caribbean islands, there are countless ways to explore the natural wonders of this country. Here are the best things to see and do with little ones in Panama.
Visit the BioMuseo in Panama City
Children will love to discover everything about Panama’s fascinating flora and fauna at the BioMuseo, Panama City’s most famous museum. Designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry, it traces the origins of the Panamanian isthmus and its impact on the planet’s biodiversity, and is the fun kind of museum where children can run free.
The Amador Causeway is a thin strip of land connecting the city to the Amador Islands. Besides offering spectacular views of the city it is also favourite spot for Panamanians and visitors to spend their free time. If you’re visiting Panama City with kids, renting a bike (or rollerblades) on the Amador Causeway is an exciting outdoor experience.
Punta Culebra is a visitor center in Amador, operated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. There, children will get a chance to visit sea life exhibitions, watch the Fabulous Frogs of Panama exhibit, touch marine organisms such as sea stars, sea cucumbers and sea urchins, and walk through a tropical dry forest.
Watch the ships transiting at the Miraflores Locks
Watching the ships as they transit across the Miraflores Locks is a must when visiting Panama, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Visitor Center is the perfect spot to get a close look at the humongous ships and their containers. Try to count them if you can!
A butterfly at Gamboa Rainforest Resort, Panama | Courtesy of Gamboa Rainforest Resort
Located just a 30-minute drive away from the center of Panama City, the Gamboa Rainforest Resort is an exciting and easy place to spend the weekend. Besides being perfect for families, with easy access, swimming pools and excellent buffets, the resort also organises boat tours in the Gatun Lake, as well as night safari tours and visits to the Emberá indigenous tribes, so that your little ones get the most of the wildlife, nature and culture around them.
Every year, from June to November, whales migrate to Panama’s Pacific Ocean to mate. During those five months, humpback whales are visible just off the coast of Panama City, close to Isla Taboga and to the Pearl Islands. If you happen to travel to Panama around that time, make sure you take your children on a boat tour to view the spectacular show.
Stay at a lodge on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches
The San Blas archipelago is not that easy to reach, but it is doable, even with children, by plane. Tourism here is regulated by the inhabitants of the area, making an overnight stay in a lodge an absolute must when travelling with children. Try the Yandup Island Lodge and enjoy some of the world’s most beautiful beaches with your family.
The Caribbean archipelago of Bocas del Toro offers some amazing snorkelling spots in very calm waters. For families travelling with children, the best option is to stay on the main island of Isla Colon, with easy access to the airport and the hospital (something to keep in mind when travelling to the tropics). Isla Colon is also home to the astonishing Playa Estrella – with coconut trees, turquoise waters, and starfish visible on the bottom of the seabed, it’s a dream come true for both parents and children.
If you plan to visit the Azuero Peninsula between July and January, which is also hatching season for turtles, make sure you check out the non-profit conservation and education organisation Tortguias. The association rescues sea turtle eggs and after a 50-day period of incubation releases them back into the sea. Children and adults alike will love to take part in the process, beginning very early on Sunday mornings – just be sure to schedule in a nap for afterwards.