Panama is not the most traveled destination. But for the ones who like to pick unusual spots, this is a fantastic choice.
Here I am not talking about taking a cruise ship that navigates along the Panama canal, where the stop at Panama City is just one port along the way. Yes this can be a nice way to discover Central America, no doubt about it, but the country of Panama deserves a vacation only in Panama.
In a nutshell, Panama is great because you will find great weather, great food, a mixed culture with a unique historical background, a very high density of plants and animals, in particular birds, a friendly population, many beaches & islands, and more.
Let’s start with the main attraction, the canal. This is unique human construction which almost failed and took the lives of thousands of workers to be completed. The French started it but could not finish, due to a series of disasters including an epidemic of malaria. The Americans took over where the French left it and managed to join the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Note that it is necessary for the ships to cross three sets of locks, as the Canal ascends to the artificial Gatun Lake before descending to the other side. This is a marvel of civil engineering. Following the Canal either in a ship or by helicopter is a great experience.
Panama is mostly covered with equatorial rain forest, and it is the habitat of the largest variety of birds on earth. It also has the largest variety of trees on earth. So this is such a rich environment for nature lovers, wherever you are in the country.
Even in Panama City, if you have a chance to walk by the Presidential Palace, it is the home of a number of bird cranes, both local and foreign. In Panama you will see all kinds of birds, in all shapes and color. Even if you are not a “bird watcher”, these birds are so beautiful when you find them.
Another attraction is Panama City itself. This is the place in Central America where you will get the best food, so do not miss it. They have a mix of European cuisines with the local touch resulting in some delicious recipes and amazing chefs.
Finally there are islands and beaches and many are fantastic. But I am going to reveal you one of the more extraordinary island resort in Panama and in the World: Hacienda del Mar.
This is a truly amazing island. Square miles aftere square miles of rain forest. Not inhabited, except for the staff and guests of the only resort of the island. As this island belongs to a billionaire, this is not likely to change.
The resort is in the Pearl Islands a few dozen miles from the entrance of the Panama Canal. It used to be an American military base and this is why this private island has miles of roads in perfect condition. But nothing else is left of the American military presence, except for a few abandoned bunkers overseeing the gorgeous panorama with smaller islands in the distance.
Try this exclusive resort. When we were there, we were the only guests, and this was the vacation of a lifetime.