5 Panama Destinations for Backpackers

Bocas del toro

Panama is the Southernmost country in Central America and the gateway to the world, thanks to the Panama Canal, one of the world greatest engineering feats. Panama has something for everyone, pristine Caribbean beaches, Pacific surfing beaches, rainforests, ancient architecture and history and up and coming metropolitan areas.

These are the top 5 Panama destinations for backpackers.

Bocas Del Toro

The Bocas del Toro Province is made up of tropical islands surrounded by crystal clear waters with extensive coral reefs and colourful varieties of tropical fish. Bocas Del Toro offers a variety of activities including Scuba Diving, surfing, fishing, underwater deep boarding (this is a unique adventure you have to try), jet skiing, hiking to private beaches and partying. Bocas Del Toro is well known for its party scene amongst backpackers. Anyone who has been to Panama will tell you not to miss out Bocas Del Toro.

Destinations For Backpackers In Panama

San Blas Islands 

The San Blas Islands are made up of 365 tropical islands and cays, 49 of which are inhabited. The Islands are located in the Caribbean Sea off the East Coast of Panama. People most commonly take sailing trips through the San Blas Islands from Panama or Colombia. Once in the Islands, you can enjoy snorkelling, swimming in pristine waters, island hopping, tanning and relaxing. Panama’s indigenous people, the Kuna, populate the Islands and welcome visitors for a nominal fee.

Destinations for backpackers in Panama

The San Blas Islands are much more untouched and pristine than the Islands of Bocas Del Toro. Bocas Del Toro, however, is more easily accessible. To find out what NOT to do when visiting the San Blas Islands, click here. 

Panama City

Panama City is a dynamic metropolis. Located at the crossroads of two oceans and two continents. The city has numerous tourist attractions. Particularly interesting for tourists are the Panama Canal, Casco Viejo and Ancon Hill.

READ – backpackers guide to Panama City. 

Destinations For Backpackers In Panama

READ – 5 things to do in Panama City.


Explore coffee farms, hike to natural hot springs or climb Central America’s highest volcano, Volcano Baru. Boquete is an adventure packed destination offering just about an activity you can think of: zip lining, horse riding, ATV tours, rock climbing, river rafting, you name it, you can do it in Boquete. I loved the little town of Boquete and recommend stopping in for 3 days.

READ – Boquete Destination Guide here.

Destinations For Backpackers In Panama

Santa Catalina 

Santa Catalina is an increasingly popular surf destination in Panama. This destination is a hidden gem and still fairly secluded so don’t expect glitz and glamour, get ready to catch fantastic waves, snorkel, scuba dive and relax on the beautiful beaches.

These are 5 of the best Panama destinations for Backpackers.

READ: Complete Panama Backpacking Guide: Routes, Hostels, and What to Do.

Book a tour in Panama

Book accommodation in Panama


Travel Insurance for Panama

Travel insurance is a necessity when travelling to Panama. I recommend World Nomads.

If you are still unsure if you should buy travel insurance or not, read this. 

Safety in Panama 

Panama felt relatively safe destination, but there are some safety precautions I recommend exercising:

  • Avoid flashing your valuables
  • Keep an eye on your belongings at all times
  • Lock your belongings in the hotel safe
  • Remain aware of your surrounding
  • Avoid unknown streets at night
  • Don’t drink too much
  • Always agree on taxi prices before getting in
  • Hike in pairs.

See more tips for keeping safe when travelling. 

Language in Panama 

The official language in Panama is Spanish. Some locals will speak English.

Vaccinations for Panama

Check the Travel Doctor website to find out what vaccinations you need when backpacking to Panama. If you have any further questions regarding vaccinations required for Panama, I recommend consulting a doctor.

Overseas Travel Checklist

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Disclosure: This post on Destinations For Backpackers In Panama contains affiliate links.

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