The Coolest Hostels to Book in Panama
From Selina Playa Venao, you can surf, unwind with yoga and zipline through the jungle | Courtesy of Selina Playa Venao / Expedia
Between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Panama is packed with tropical beaches, diverse cultures and rich history. Plus, there are plenty of unique hostels that won’t break your budget. From remote retreats deep in the cloud forests to affordable options in the cosmopolitan capital of Panama City, here’s our list of the coolest hostels in Panama – all bookable on Culture Trip.
Courtesy of Selina Bocas del Toro / Booking.com
For a lively stay in Bocas del Toro, hop over to Selina. Right on the waterfront, this hostel is for you if you want to socialize, thanks to its vibrant nightlife. After a day of snorkeling, surfing or scuba diving, the hostel bar hosts resident DJs for late Caribbean parties. Detox with a yoga class in the morning before island hopping. The dorms and private rooms are as colorful as the hostel itself.
Courtesy of Beach Break Surf Camp / Booking.com
The Beach Break Surf Camp is a waterfront boutique hotel just feet from Playa Venao, home to one of the most consistent beach breaks in Panama. As well as offering surfboard rentals and surf lessons, there are a variety of classes including yoga, pilates, kickboxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The dorms and private rooms are colorful with a clean and airy aesthetic. The hotel features everything you’d need during your surf retreat: a beachfront pool, a restaurant and a community kitchen are just a few of the amenities offered.
Courtesy of Selina Red Frog / Booking.com
Selina Red Frog is the more laid-back sibling of the Selina in Bocas del Toro. Just a 10-minute water taxi ride from the city, this flashpacker hostel is the perfect getaway for those of you who want to disconnect and get back to nature. Featuring a VW bus-turned-seating area, palm-lined gardens, outdoor pools and a yoga deck, this hostel is well-kept and super stylish. Plus, it offers several activities, such as trips to secret beaches and wellness classes. Book the treehouse-esque deluxe bungalow for the ultimate escape.
Courtesy Bambuda Castle / Booking.com
Fulfil your childhood dream of staying in a castle. The Bambuda Castle – with a moat and quirky rooms such as the grass-covered, subterranean hobbit homes – wins the most unique accommodation category. The boutique hotel is in Boquete, next to the green hills of Baru Volcano and surrounded by mountainside coffee plantations. There’s a variety of activities to keep you active during the day, from hiking to hunting for waterfalls. Back at the hotel, relax in the indoor swimming pool and hot tub before setting off to explore the nearby small village on the free shuttle provided.
The Lost and Found Hostel
Immerse yourself in nature at La Fortuna Reserve with a stay at the Lost and Found Hostel. Set amid cloud forests in the Chiriqui Province, this remote hostel is accessible via a 20-minute hike. Built on a repurposed coffee farm on 12ha (30 acres) of rainforest, they offer dorms and private rooms with views of the Baru Volcano as your backdrop. Activities such as hiking, adventure tours and horseback riding can be arranged. The hostel also offers a family-style dinner and a bar area, with plenty of hammocks and games to keep you entertained during your stay.
Selina Casco Viejo Panama City
Courtesy of Selina Casco Viejo Panama City / Booking.com
Chances are you’re headed back to Panama City for an international flight to your next destination. If so, make yourself as comfortable as possible by staying at the Selina in Casco Viejo. With an industrial vibe, the loft-style private rooms and dorms have rustic wood furnishings and exposed metal details. Plus, there’s plenty of activities to meet people, from ceviche-making workshops to steamy salsa nights. There’s a rooftop terrace, a yoga space, plenty of co-working areas and two Latin restaurants, with rotating events to make your stay memorable.
La Qhia Eco Retreat
Courtesy of La Qhia Eco Retreat / Booking.com
In the small, tranquil mountain town of Santa Fe, La Qhia Eco Retreat is a quaint and humble hostel providing simple bamboo dormitories and wood-paneled private rooms. You’ll have access to an outdoor kitchen, a small rustic bar and lovely gardens. The hostel sits on the edge of a national park and within walking distance of picture-worthy waterfalls, as well as a few trails of different skill levels.
Skully's House Hostel
Courtesy of Skully's House Hostel / Booking.com
Skully’s House is a great hostel for you active and adventurous types, promising a peaceful place to stay outside lively Bocas del Toro. In the more tranquil Big Creek, facing the Carenero and Bastimentos Islands, Skully’s House offers beachfront distressed-wood dorms and private rooms. The area is great for surfing year-round. Besides the surfboard rentals and surf lessons, the hostel also provides quad bike rentals for exploring jungle trails to scenic viewpoints.
Courtesy of Hostel Casa 33 / Booking.com
In a two-story colonial-style house, Hostal Casa 33 is an affordable option in the capital. It has a variety of rooms: family rooms; private rooms with single and double beds; and mixed-gender and female-only dorms with wooden pod-style beds. This colorful hostel has a shared kitchen, free wifi, lockers and lots of shared communal living spaces. Hire one of the bicycles for the day to explore the seaside bike lanes around the scenic Amador Causeway, just 11km (7mi) away.
Courtesy of Selina Playa Venao / Expedia
Selina Playa Venao is a beachfront property on one of the most sought-after surf spots in Panama. More posh-tel than hostel, the accommodation offers co-working areas, recreation and wellness activities. Local experiences include surfing, yoga and zip-lining through the jungle. For a unique sleep, book one of the triangular thatched-roof huts. There are also more traditional options, such as bunk beds, family rooms and suites that are all beautifully designed in that boho-Selina signature style.
This is a rewrite of an article originally by Martina Gili.
These recommendations were updated on September 17, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.