Tour operator EcoCircuitos offers a popular program called Panama Journey, which takes travelers in and outside of the city. // © 2014 EcoCircuitos
Panama City is an ideal hub for exploring the rest of the nation, since it’s centrally located and well connected by road and air routes. Some industry observers are seeing more interest in combining city stays with interior trips.
“We’re seeing growth in the urban and beach package that Panama offers,” said Anthony Emanuelo, vice president of operations for Latin America and the Caribbean at Wyndham Hotel Group. “Visitors stay in Panama City for the shopping and the canal for a couple of days, then go out to enjoy the country’s beautiful beaches.”
One of the most developed beach destinations in Panama is the area surrounding Coronado, on the Pacific coast, where multiple resort-style hotels serve international travelers.
For the tour operator EcoCircuitos, multiday escorted tours are a big seller, according to owner Annie Young.
“One of our top-selling programs is our Panama Journey,” Young said. “It’s 11 days in Panama City, featuring the cosmopolitan city and the old quarters, plus the Chiriqui highlands, the Caribbean side, different national parks and experiences with our local communities.”
Culture is a big seller in Panama’s interior, according to Henry Josephs, general manager of Rainforest Adventures by Panama Excursions, a local tour operator. His company’s best-selling tour takes travelers to an Embera Indian village, to learn about one of the nation’s largest living indigenous groups.
Another popular side trip ventures near the Costa Rican border. Bocas del Toro is a collection of Caribbean islands that offers lots of outdoor activities and a variety of small-scale hotels. One of the newest is the Sarani Resort, a member of Preferred Hotel Group that’s slated to open in August 2015, with 37 bungalow suites on a 75-acre property.