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The best time to visit Panama

Secondary Categories: PanamaWhen To Visit

Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Panama is a country of incredible biodiversity, stunning landscapes, and vibrant cultures. From the iconic Panama Canal to lush rainforests and picturesque beaches, this Central American gem offers an array of experiences for every type of traveler. But when is the best time to visit?  

The dry season (December to April) 

Panama's dry season is undoubtedly the most popular time to visit. Spanning from December to April, this period offers clear skies, lower humidity levels, and less rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor adventures and beach excursions. Travelers can explore Panama City's historic Casco Viejo district, hike through the cloud forests of Boquete, or relax on the white sands of Bocas del Toro without the worry of frequent rain showers. 

The rainy season (May to November) 

Flower gardens and rainbows of Boquete, Panama

While the rainy season might not sound like the best time to visit, it comes with its own unique advantages. The landscape becomes lush and vibrant, bursting with life as the rain rejuvenates the forests and rivers. What’s more, this period sees fewer tourists, which means you can enjoy popular attractions without the crowds. Just be prepared for sporadic heavy rainfall and occasional travel disruptions. 

Carnival season (February/March) 

Diablicos performer with carnival masks in Panama festival
Diablico wearing a typical performer’s mask at Carnival

If you're looking to immerse yourself in Panama's lively culture, consider planning your visit around Carnival. This vibrant celebration takes place in either February or March, depending on the year (our Destination Experts will gladly advise of exact dates), and involves colorful parades, traditional costumes, music, dancing, and a general sense of joy and camaraderie. The most famous Carnival celebrations can be found in Panama City and Las Tablas. 

Whale watching season (July to October) 

For nature enthusiasts and marine life lovers, the months of July to October offer an exciting opportunity to witness the migration of humpback whales. The warm waters of Panama's Pacific coast become a temporary home for these majestic creatures, making it an excellent time to embark on whale-watching tours: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with these gentle giants. 

Events and festivals 

Panama hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year that showcase its rich cultural heritage. From the International Film Festival in April to the Jazz Festival in January, there's always something happening in Panama to engage and entertain visitors. 

For a unique and deeply cultural event, the Festival of the Black Christ of Portobelo takes place in the town of Portobelo on October 21st and 22nd. This religious celebration involves processions, traditional dances, and vibrant displays of faith as thousands gather to honor the Black Christ statue, believed to possess miraculous powers. 

The long and the short 

Boat going over Gatun Locks at Panama Canal
No matter when you visit, you’ll still be able to witness the fascinating Panama Canal.

The best time to visit Panama largely depends on your preferences and interests. The dry season is popular for a reason, but don't overlook the rainy season's charms and unique opportunities. With its diverse landscapes, vibrant culture, and welcoming people, Panama promises an unforgettable journey regardless of when you choose to explore this tropical paradise. 

Experience it for yourself with SA Expeditions. First check our most popular Panama itinerary. Then speak to a Destination Expert about crafting your own adventure.  

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