Are you interested in traveling to a tropical paradise? Panama is one of the most popular destinations to visit in Central America. While it’s always hot and humid in Panama, certain times of the year offer a much better vacation experience.
The dry season is one of the best times to visit Panama. Between December and April, the rains subside, and the sun shines across Panama. During this time, you’ll find plenty to do. It’s also the busiest time of year.
You should expect many tourists and increases in prices during the dry season. The wet season lasts from June until November. Tropical rains and storms deter most visitors during this time. If you don’t mind a little rain, you can enjoy reduced costs while visiting Panama during the wet season.
The wet season also brings the risk of hurricanes from both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. If you’re planning to visit Panama, it’s best to understand the climate and how it affects your trip.
Today we’ll cover the best and worst times to visit Panama and when you should visit. We’ve also added some tips and tricks to help you plan your trip. Let’s, start the guide and find out when is the best time to visit Panama.
Why You Should Visit Panama
When choosing a tropical vacation, Panama is rarely at the top of many lists. But, Panama offers a wonderful climate, beautiful scenery, tons of activities, and a fantastic culture. Here are some of the best reasons to visit Panama.
Whether you want to visit a bustling metropolis or a quaint beach town, Panama has it all. While the Panama Canal and Panama City are key attractions, we also love the beaches and islands.
Panama has hundreds of islands and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Here you can enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, or a relaxing day at the beach.
Panama is also one of the only countries you can experience both a sunrise over the Caribbean sea and a sunset over the Pacific Ocean giving you ample opportunities to catch the perfect photo.
Panama is relatively close and less than a 2.5-hour flight from Miami. This makes it a short trip from almost anywhere in the United States. Once you arrive, you don’t have to worry about getting a visa. US citizens only need their passports for entry into Panama.
While traveling, you also don’t have to convert your money. The United States dollar is the official currency of Panama and is accepted in every store or restaurant. Most credit cards are accepted, but it’s better to carry cash while visiting Panama.
As a tropical country, Panama has extensive and exotic plant and animal life. Inland, Panama has massive rainforests, mountain forests, and wetlands. Here you can find over 10,000 plant species, 255 mammal species, and 972 bird species.
Panama is one of the best places to experience turtle watching. Head to the Caribbean coast to enjoy the nesting season of loggerhead and green sea turtles. The underwater biodiversity is equally impressive.
Scuba divers and snorkelers can dive into the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. For divers that enjoy adventure, you can dive or watch humpback whales, sharks and orcas during August and September along the Pacific.
Panama has a rich and diverse culture. Here you’ll find a blend of African, American Indian, North American, and Spanish cultures. This diversity leads to many different events and activities.
Carnaval is the most significant event and is hosted before Easter and features a week-long party, concert, and parade. Other big events include the Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival, Sobressaltos Dance Festival, Semana Santa, and Bocas Del Toro Sea Fair.
If you prefer to relax, there’s still plenty to enjoy. From fantastic food to exceptional coffee, Panama is a hub for exquisite dining experiences.
Travelers who love adventure will love Panama. Divers can choose between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Diving is world-class and affordable in Panama.
Other watersports are popular as well and you can enjoy sailing, jet skis, fishing, and kayaking. Hikers have thousands of acres of jungle and mountains to enjoy. Baru Volcano National Park is one of the best hikes.
Here, you can traverse seven craters and get a view of both the Caribbean and Pacific from the summit. While the hike is demanding, if you reach the top, you’ll hit the highest point in Panama.
Panama is one of the safest countries in Latin America. Many tourists feel safe and welcome while visiting Panama. The cultural diversity in Panama makes it safe for travelers with varying ethnicities.
Solo travelers, women, and LGBTQ+ travelers should feel safe visiting Panama any time of year. Violent crime is rare in Panama, but scams and petty theft are common. Panama has a large police force that is known to protect tourists and foreigners.
Overall Best Time to Visit Panama
The dry season arrives in December and lasts until March. Visitors flock to Panama for its wonderful climate and minimal rains during this time. By December, Panama is in peak season, and it may be difficult to book a room for big holiday weeks like Christmas and New Year.
During this time, temperatures and prices creep higher. As a result, January is one of the best times to travel to the beaches of Panama. The temperatures are warm, and the beaches are pristine during January.
Easter brings even more crowds to enjoy Carnaval. This event often coincides with American spring break. This means large crowds of partying college students visiting Panama.
If you want to avoid these crowds, you should avoid heading to Panama during Carnaval. Less rain also makes for excellent diving and snorkeling. You’ll experience increased visibility underwater, and enjoy a life-changing experience under the sea.
Finally, the dry season is home to some of the biggest yearly festivals in Panama.
- Enjoy Feria de la Flores y Del Café. The Flower and Coffee Festival is in January.
- Las Tablas Carnival is Panama’s biggest festival. It takes place before Ash Wednesday.
- Jazz fans can enjoy the Panama Jazz Festival in January.
Thanks to the amazing weather and plethora of events, the dry season is the best time to visit Panama. It may cost more, and the hotels are crowded, but Panama’s dry season is exceptionally fun.
Cheapest Time to Visit Panama
If you’re on a budget, you’ll want to visit Panama during the low season between April and early December. While you may experience heavy rains every day, you can still find plenty of things to do during the rainy season.
Surfers will love the rainy season as the waves rise on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Scuba diving is also a popular activity during this season.
Animal lovers will want to visit between August and September to get a chance at shark or orca sightings. If you prefer less dangerous animals, May gives you a chance to experience loggerhead and green sea turtle nesting on the Caribbean coast of Panama.
September is also one of the best times to travel around Panama. The rains slightly subside during the month, and prices will be lower than high season.
Bocas Del Toro is a popular destination during this time as it has less rain than the rest of the country. The chain of islands is a Caribbean paradise that has a laidback vibe. They also host their world-famous Bocas del Toro festival in September.
The rainy season also brings exciting white water rafting. You can find guided trips along the Chiquir river and in the Boquete region.
Least Busy Time to Visit Panama
As the rains begin, fewer travelers head to Panama. The rainy season begins in mid-April and lasts until early December. During this time you should expect rain every day but not all day. Some days you can experience torrential downpours, while other days you’ll get plenty of sunlight.
October and November have the most consistent rains. This means fewer visitors. If you’re not worried about getting a little wet, you can enjoy reduced prices across the country during these months.
The rains and lack of tourists don’t stop the festivities in Panama. During the season, you can find many fun and exciting events to attend.
- Panama hosts country-wide festivities during Easter.
- Celebrate with costumed dancers at the Corpus Christi celebration in May.
- Enjoy the Bocas del Toro fishing celebration in September.
- Panama celebrates two Independence events on November 3-4 and November 28th.
Worst Time to Visit Panama
Even the worst time to visit Panama is a good time. The rainy season begins in May and extends until November.
September and November tend to have the worst rains and dangerous travel conditions. Rains during the rainy season can be oppressive. Many rural roads close due to storms and flooding.
Flash floods are common in many areas of the country and can cause massive damage. Thunderstorms may cut power in both small and large cities. Also, hurricanes may hit Panama from both coasts during the rainy season.
Travelers need to check tropical storm advisories and plan their trips accordingly to avoid life-threatening hurricanes. September and October feature the highest risk of gales in Panama. Still, Panama is relatively safe from hurricanes compared to other Central American countries.
October travelers can enjoy the Festival del Cristo Negro in October. This festival features thousands of pilgrims visiting. November brings two independence day festivals as well.
Still, many visitors love visiting Panama during the rainy season. During these months, travelers can enjoy reduced costs at hotels, food, and activities. There are also fewer travelers, and you won’t feel overcrowded during the rainy season.
Things to Consider
Have you decided on a month to visit Panama? Before heading to Panama, here are a few things you need to consider.
- Panama uses the US dollar as their legal currency.
- You should carry low-denomination bills while visiting Panama.
- It’s safe to drink tap water in Panama City and other cities.
- Panama has an excellent public transportation system.
- Panama is one of the safest countries for solo, female, and LGBTIQ+ travelers.
- While safe, you need to watch out for scams. Taxi scams are common everywhere.
- It’s illegal to smoke in public and non-designated areas.
- All illicit drugs, including marijuana, are illegal in Panama.
- Bring warm clothes if you plan on hiking to higher elevations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you still have questions about Panama? Below are some of the most common questions asked about visiting Panama.
What is the rainy season in Panama?
The rainy season begins in May. By June, rains should be heavy and daily. The rainy season extends into July and goes until late November. While rare, hurricanes can hit Panama during October and November. While there is plenty of rain during the season, travelers can enjoy lower prices during the season.
What are the hottest months in Panama?
You’ll find Panama the hottest near the end of the dry season. The dry season begins in January and extends until April. March and April are by far the hottest months with temperatures averaging above 90F.
Is Panama cheap to visit?
You’ll find traveling around Panama is cheaper than in Europe or the United States. The cost of living in Panama is approximately 30-40% less than in the United States. But Panama is pricier than many other Central American countries. Staying in hostels or eating local food are two of the best ways to lower your costs while visiting Panama.
How many days are enough for Panama?
To get the most out of visiting Panama, you should plan a trip that lasts at least five to ten days. While you can see plenty of the country in five days, you may feel rushed. If you plan on visiting multiple areas of Panama, we suggest staying for at least ten days to enjoy the country.
Can a US citizen go to Panama?
US citizens can go to Panama. Upon arrival in Panama, you’ll need to provide a passport valid for at least three months after the date of entry, a round trip-bus ticket or plane ticket, and proof of solvency. As an American, If you plan to stay longer than one hundred eighty days you need to apply for a visa.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Panama?
As someone who likes to stay dry, the best time to visit Panama is during the dry season. By December, the rains in Panama subside. This leads to amazing weather and fun festivals. The dry season also means many more tourists and an increase in prices.
Still, if you can afford the prices and don’t mind crowds, the dry season is the best time to visit Panama. The rainy season is the worst time to visit Panama due to the weather. But, for travelers on a budget, visiting Panama during the rainy season is an option.
While it may rain every day, there are far fewer tourists during this season. Prices also drop sharply during the wet season. No matter when you decide to visit Panama, you’re in for a treat. Happy travels!