hidden gems in Panama

Hidden gems in Panama? Yes, they exist!

While it´s getting more and more popular among tourists, the country still offers many incredible less visited spots and hidden gems.

Check out my favorite secret places in Panama and add them to your bucketlst!

cover hidden gems in Panama

1. San Blas Islands

Ok, not exactly a secret place anymore, but still not overrun by tourists and often overlooked – the San Blas Islands. Even though visiting the San Blas Islands have gotten more popular recently, this tropical island paradise is still considered a hidden gem in Panama.

When you see these picture-perfect islands, you won´t believe your eyes. Crystal clear water, white sandy beaches and palm trees. One of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.

If you are into beaches, you definitely can´t miss out on the San Blas Islands.

The archipelago consists of over 300 islands and is home to native Indians of the Guna Yala culture.

A popular option to visit the islands is through a sailing trip from Panama to Colombia or the other way around.

If you want to learn more about the islands, check out this detailed blog post HERE.

San Blas Islands - cant be missed on your ultimate panama itinerary
snorkling is one of the best things to do in San Blas
crystal clear water in San Blas

2. Boca Chica

The Boca Chica area is a real hidden gem with wonderful beaches along the Pacific coast.

Relaxing at some of the unspoiled and secluded beaches here is easily one of the best things to do in Panama

There are several islands to be explored here as well and hopping on a boat to explore some of them is well worth it.

The area is famous for it´s clear water as well as snorkeling, diving and wildlife spotting.

If you like beautiful, secluded beaches, I highly recommend visiting this area.

I have spent several days here, camping at secluded beaches and enjoying the calm waters and pretty surroundings. Even when I visited during a weekend, I had hundreds of meters of beautiful beaches to myself only!

My favorite beaches in the Boca Chica area: 

  • Punta Bejuco
  • Playa Gavilla
Punta Bejuco in Boca Chica
Punta Bejuco in Boca Chica
empty beaches in Boca Chica

3. Cocovivo Eco Lodge (Bocas del Toro)

One of my favorite places in all of Central America.

This eco lodge, located in Bocas del Toro, is a great place to stay in cute overwater bungalows at an affordable price.

I came across the place one day on social media, knew I had to visit when I had the chance and saved it to Google Maps. When I finally arrived at the place, I was blown away. It´s such an incredible setting in the middle of nature with everything you could ask for.

There are only a handful of accommodation options available, all individually designed and with amazing views. I stayed at the dolphin pod, which is a small overwater bungalow with a floating bed – just incredible.

The property is huge and has some hiking trails, where you can see sloths and other wildlife. If you are lucky, you might spot dolphins passing by Cocovivo as well.

One of the best things about this property is the thriving underwater world. They provide complimentary snorkeling gear, kayaks and paddleboards.

Definitely an amazing hidden gem in Panama and totally worth a stay! (PS: this is not sponsored, I just genuinely enjoyed my stay here)

Book your stay HERE

Eco Lodge Cocovivo Panama from above
Cocovivo Panama
overwater bungalow at Cocovivo Eco Lodge

4. El Valle de Anton

A hiker´s paradise and a great hidden gem in Panama.

Compared to the more popular Boquete, this mountain town is still less visited and often overlooked by tourists.

El Valle de Anton is located inside a huge volcano crater and offers amazing hikes in the surrounding areas.

Some of the more popular hikes are La India Dormida and Cerro Cara Iguana. But there are many more hiking trails available in the area, where you will likely not see any other person around during the hike.

The mountain town is also home to hot springs as well as some waterfalls.

It offers a great variety  of activities and a bunch of different accommodation options.

The trails in the area lead you over grassy hills with amazing views and are suitable to pretty much all fitness levels.

If you like hiking and want to experience an amazing mountain town in Panama, make sure to add El Valle de Anton to your Panama itinerary.

El Valle de Anton - a hidden gem in Panama
Hiking in El Valle de Anton
Hiking in El Valle de Anton - Cerro La Silla

5. Los Cangilones of Gualaca

One of the most unique places to swim in Central America!

Los Cangilones de Gualaca is a natural canyon slot inside a river in the town of Gualaca.

The water is very clear and pretty deep, so you can jump into the narrow canyon and have a swim.

When I visited on a random afternoon, there were only a few local teenagers around, no other tourists.

On the rocks of the slot canyon, there´s enough space to relax and sunbathe when taking breaks from the swims.

This place gets pretty busy, especially with locals, on weekends and holidays, so try to avoid those days and visit during the week instead.

Don`t miss out on this swimming spot and enjoy a refreshing dip into this unique slot canyon!

Slot Canyon Los Cangilones de Gualaca
Los Cangilones de Gualaca from abiove

6. Caldera Hot Springs

Pretty amazing hot springs close to the touristy town of Boquete and a real hidden gem in Panama.

Caldera hot springs is best reached by car or private transportation. The hot springs consist of several pools with varying temperatures.

The property borders to a river, which is a great opportunity to take cold dips during hot spring soaks.

While I visited on a late morning during the weekend, there were only a few more people around. The place is pretty remote and not the easiest to reach, which is a great thing in terms of avoiding tourist masses making their way here.

The property is owned privately and the entrance fee is 3 USD per person.

If you like hot springs, I highly recommend visiting this place. As soaking in hot springs is much nicer with lower air temperatures, I recommend coming early in the morning. There will also be less people around, if you arrive early.

Caldera hot springs - hidden gem in Panama
Caldera hot springs

Hope you added some of these hidden gems in Panama to your to do list and are excited about your upcoming trip.

Make sure to check out more Panama blog posts to help plan your trip: