Last year, Gwenda and I were chatting about our holiday plans. When we realized we both had a week free in June, she was like, “let’s visit Panama together!” Yet, what is the best time to visit Panama?
Since both of us had never been to the central part of America before, we were super excited about this journey. Basically, we wanted a rich culture, plenty of natural beauty, charming cities, and a good selection of activities to keep us entertained. Panama didn’t disappoint at all: It has the second-largest rainforest in the continent after the Amazon, and its capital is host to Latin-style cuisine and nightlife scenes.
There was only one problem: We didn’t pick the best time to visit the Melting Pot. June was the beginning of the rainy season. Although humidity soars and rain showers didn’t prevent us from having a taste of Panama, they kept us away from the islands and coastal beaches. That left our trip feeling incomplete.
So, to help you avoid the same mistakes (and to prepare for our next trip), I have created a comprehensive guide on the best time to visit Panama. Read on, and you will know how to enjoy this tropical country to the fullest!
Weather In Panama: A Tale Of Two Seasons
“The place where two oceans kiss”, that’s what most people will say about Panama. To the locals, though, this country is a tale of two seasons: Wet and dry.
The Dry Season
Like most countries in Central America, such as Cuba or Puerto Rico, Panama’s dry season starts in December and wraps up before the end of April, which my Panamanian friends often refer to as their “summer”. It’s characterized by hot and sunny days with clear blue skies, cool nighttime breezes, and starry nights.
Although the dry season isn’t guaranteed to be free of rain, the humidity is less intense, making it the best time to visit Panama for outdoor activities and exploring natural beauties. What’s more, this season takes place during the North Hemisphere’s cold winter. So, as you might expect, this is the peak tourist season, with thousands of visitors flocking to the stunning beaches of the Pacific and Caribbean.
The Wet Season
That leaves May to November as the wet or rainy season, also known as “winter” to the locals. If you come to Panama during this time, expect hazy skies and bursts of downpours or thunderstorms. The days are still warm, with an average temperature of 32ºC ( 90ºF), while the nights are much cooler at around 21ºC (70ºF).
As I just mentioned, this is not the ideal time to chill on the beaches. Still, the rainy season does have its perks: Everything is vibrant green, as opposed to the dry season when the trees turn a bit brown due to the lack of rainfall.
So, When Is The Best Time To Visit Panama?
Well, it all depends on your budget and the type of experience you are after!
To most people, the best time to visit Panama is during the dry season, between January and mid-April. This is the driest part of the year, which is perfect for surfing, diving, soaking up the dreamy beaches of Bocas del Toro, or reveling in the golden balmy hour at the Sunset Coast. However, the season also sees tourism at its highest, so prepare to pay an arm and a leg to get a room.
Budget-conscious travelers and those who want to avoid the crowds may prefer a visit between May and November. If you don’t mind rain and humidity, you can snag deals and enjoy the rainforests at their peak lushness.
After all, Panama is still a tropical maritime country with warm weather all year round. Also, don’t forget that the popular festivals in this country are distributed throughout the year. If that tickles your fancy, then the right time to travel to Panama is at… anytime!
Traveling To Panama: A Month-By-Month Guide
Panama is brimming with exciting activities and amazing findings. The Melting Pot is home to incredibly rich biodiversity, as well as traditions and folklore that are worthy of being admired.
In case you still have trouble deciding the best time to visit Panama, below is Enjoyfuntrip’s month-by-month guide to events and highlights:
January – March
With abundant sunshine and few showers, January to March is a big time for travel in Panama, especially on beaches. This time sees the Pacific climate at its warmest and consistent breezes along the coasts, which is ideal for kitesurfing. Additionally, minimal rain will give you excellent visibility if you wish to dive or snorkel.
The Panama Jazz Festival, held every January in Panama City, is one of the events you can’t miss. To enjoy the town at its most vibrant and high-spirited, go in February during Carnaval – a spectacle multi-day fair with glamorous costumes, decorated float parades, and music.
Panama Jazz Festival 2022
If Easter falls in March, all stores will be closed, and the accommodation cost might increase, so make sure to plan your trip ahead of time.
April is a midpoint between the busy dry season and the relaxed, rainier green season. During this time, the average temperature in Panama will fall to a comfortable level, and you should expect more downpours in the evening.
If Easter takes place in April, it’s also more expensive to visit the country at this time of the year. As the month rolls on, though, tourist numbers dwindle, which means you can enjoy better deals and no longer have to fight for space.
Highlights of this month include the Feria de las Orquídeas (Orchid Festivals) and the International Fair of Azuero in Los Santos. These typical festivals will give you an opportunity to revel in Panamanian culture and heritage like a local!
May – August
May marks the beginning of the wet season and, at the same time, the breeding season of the green sea and loggerhead turtles. If you are a marine life lover, don’t miss out on this chance to go turtle watching.
The middle of the wet season is from June to August, so you will see pouring rain most days. Despite that, the vibrant, tropical ambiance of Soberania National Park makes it one of the top attractions in Panama rainy season. In case you’d like to avoid the rain, I recommend seeking refuge indoors at one of Panama’s best museums: Biomuseo, Weil Art Gallery, or Museo del Canal Interoceánico de Panamá.
Congratulations are in order in August for Panama City’s world-famous canal, as Panamanians commemorate the birth of Panamá Viejo on August 15th. Other events and festivals are World Pride Panama and Festival Nacional de la Pollera in Las Tablas.
September – November
September is a wonderful time to travel across the country, with celebrations everywhere, such as Bocas del Toro, Guararé, and Feria de la Mejorana. From October, road-tripping and traveling are only for the tough since the roads are muddy and sometimes closed due to thunderstorms.
Ultimately, any time is fantastic for a trip to Panama, but there is one exception: November. This month is packed with national holidays, which means the locals will fill up the hotels, and most stores or restaurants are closed.
Tơ wrap up the year with more festivities in Panama, right before Christmas, the locals worship the Virgin of Guadalupe on the 12th of December in Veraguas and celebrate the Feasts of Saint Lucía in Coclé.
As the year draws to a close, the rains make way for bright sunny days throughout most of the country. While this is a great time to enjoy Panama, the number of tourists begins to increase around Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Hotel demands and prices are high as people flock in to seek winter sunshine.
Find Your Wild In Panama!
Though it’s often overshadowed by the touristic Southern countries, Panama is one of the rare destinations that still maintain an electrifying mix of indigenous traditions and cosmopolitan growth. From the historic old towns to the pristine beaches, it’s easy to get lost in the unique ambiance that surrounds the region.
I hope this guide on the best time to visit Panama will help you discover the best of the Melting Pot. Get ready to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and centuries of ancient cultures!