The land of "abundant fish, trees, and butterflies" is also the land of abundant sunshine, mountains, rainforests, beaches, and friendly locals! From cosmopolitan Panama City to coffee-centric Boquete to quaint El Valle de Antón, Panama is a country of sharp contrasts and cultural diversity.
More than 12 percent of the people are indigenous, with a large segment of the rest being of Afro-Antillean or Chinese origin. The food is a confluence of these cultures, as is the music and the colorful native dress, the pollera. Dance with other revelers during Carnaval in Panama City, or celebrate the Fiesta de San Juan Bautista in Chitré. Whatever you choose, our Panama vacation rentals are a great place to call home in this beguiling land.
Like other Caribbean nations, Panamanian culture is a mix of African, Native American and European influences, making it an appealing travel destination for anyone looking for urbanity and tradition. Pre-Columbian cultures included the Chibchan, Chocoan and Cueva peoples, all hunter gatherers. Once the Spanish arrived in 1501, courtesy of Rodrigo de Bastidas, the country became an economic and strategic powerhouse. Spain ruled for more than 300 years, using the tiny nation as a gateway to the lucrative Orient. Today it remains a gateway from west to east, thanks to the impressive Panama Canal.
The nation's capital, Panama City, is an international banking center divided into corregimientos, or quarters, with the old quarter attracting the most visitors thanks to its well-preserved colonial architecture and myriad old churches and plazas. Explore Panama Viejo, the old capital just minutes from downtown Panama City. This UNESCO World Heritage Site includes the ruins of the first Spanish city on the Pacific.
Heading out of the capital, visitors will come across white sand beaches, lush rainforests, and a plethora of coffee plantations. The Archipelago de Bocas del Toro is on Panama's west coast border with Costa Rica. Sink your feet in the white sand or explore a hidden cove on a lazy summer day. The Archipelago de San Blas is old-school Panama with nary a condo or mall in sight, but plenty of palm trees, soft sand and turquoise water. The uninhabited Cayos Los Grullos, Holandeses, and Ordupuquip are popular with yachters and off-the-beaten-track types. Playa Coronado is just one hour away from Panama City, and boasts white powder and big city conveniences. Playa Barqueta near the town of David is popular with surfers and turtle-hatching enthusiasts.
Near the Costa Rican border lies the province of Chiriquí. Mountains give way to beautiful valleys and waterfalls. Head up to the small town of Boquete, famous for its coffee. Many of the area's producers - some of the world's best - host tours and tastings throughout the year. A thriving expat community in town means more chances to go river rafting, hiking, or biking near Volcán Barú, the country's highest point.
A stay in one of our Panama vacation rentals isn't complete without a journey into the country's intriguing and dynamic interior. The provinces of Veraguas, Los Santos, Herrera, and Cocle offer a pleasing variance to the popular coastal towns. Isla Colba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its pristine rainforests, sits in the Pacific and is a draw for scuba divers. Penonome boasts the Omar Torrijos National Park, a vast wildlife refuge with great hiking trails. The Sarigua National Park in Parita features 8,000 hectares of semi-desert and a pre-Columbian settlement. El Valle de Antón is a quaint town in the middle of an extinct volcano and lush forests, luring hikers and bikers galore.
If it's sun, sand, and culture you crave, then head down to Panama. Our luxurious Panama vacation rentals await your arrival!
Photo credit: Jess Kraft via Shutterstock
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