The Undiscovered Paradise of Panama
Before embarking on an Avanti educational trip to Panama, I knew very little about this small sliver of land connecting Central and South America. I only knew that it was home to the Panama Canal – an extremely important part of history and geography, no doubt – but I had no idea what kinds of rich culture, extraordinary cuisine, and breathtaking surroundings would greet me during this week in an undiscovered paradise.
The first location on our group’s excursion was the capital and largest city, Panama City. Here, we were immersed in the myriad of colors of diversity, cuisine, and history. During our visit to the Biodiversity Museum, we learned about all the different ecosystems found in the country, as well as what resides in North and South America, thanks to Panama’s existence. During our many meals in the city, we could taste the diversity of numerous cultural influences as well as the richness of flavor that naturally resides in Panamanian cuisine. On our last day in the city, we had an in-depth tour of what Panama is most known for – the Canal. From an exclusive viewing point, we witnessed a ship being moved through the Miraflores Locks, which was a special and magnificent experience.
After a few days in the city, our next stay was at Isla Palenque in Boca Chica. This beautiful island is a true getaway. Waking up to the sound of the ocean just a few hundred feet from the front of our casita was a dream. Eating fresh, organic, locally grown food for every meal was a blissful experience. And, to top it off with a touch of adventure, we got to experience a short hike, snorkeling excursion, whale watching tour, and rum tasting. If you choose, your day is completely at your leisure, enjoying all that this wonderful paradise has to offer.
The final location we traveled to before one last night in Panama City was Boquete. Situated in the highlands, it was a bit cooler, resembling a rainforest climate. We were able to survey the beauty from above during a cloud forest hike. Along the way, our guide would share insights about the surrounding plant life and ecosystems that are thriving in Boquete, including different kinds of trees, flowers, and insects. Boquete is also a thriving place for coffee. We had the pleasure of touring a coffee plantation and learned all about how coffee is grown and made, and we also were able to experience a coffee tasting. Coffee was available for purchase here and this is where the vast majority of my souvenir budget was spent. This destination offered a nice mix of adventure, small-town vibes, and vibrant culture.
Upon returning to the States, I could confidently say that Panama is my ideal tropical destination. It combines modern city vibes with historical intrigue, exquisite cuisine with rich cultural influences, and sunny beaches with lush highlands. The colors of Panama are many, and they all paint a beautiful experience that reveals itself as an undiscovered paradise.