On the Caribbean side, the lovely town of Bocas del Toro, in the archipelago of the same name, is the ideal sea kayak destination. Not only can you kayak in protected bays and in open ocean but the ecologically rich landscape will provide nice opportunities for day camp-outs, snorkeling, forest hikes, beach combing and other outdoor activities. Your exploration can take you from the relative civilization of Bocas Town to the less inhabited Bastimentos and Solarte islands and Buena Esperanza, a mainland coastal area accessible only by boat. En route, you may have the once in a life-time thrill to sea-kayak with dolphins. Other highlights of the area include peaceful mangrove coves, protected coral reefs for leisurely snorkeling, and miles of open Caribbean beaches. Several shops in town rent kayaks by the day or the week.
You can enjoy the opportunity to kayak on this massive waterway which carves its way through the Panamanian countryside and jungle landscape. The Gamboa Resort, situated on the banks of the Canal, offers kayak tours on the historic Chagres River and also complimentary kayaks for guests’ use. During your outing, you will probably spot white-faced, spider, howler or titi monkeys, sloth, Jesus Christ lizards, kingfishers, eagles, turtles and different reptiles.
Another heaven for sea kayaking is the tropical paradise of the San Blas Islands off the Caribbean Coast of Panama, inhabited by the colorful, indigenous Kuna people. Here in their sovereign nation, Guna Yala, they still spend their days fishing, gathering coconuts, and making molas (the famous reverse appliqué cloth art). Cultural rewards abound as you paddle and snorkel among rich coral reefs (among the most intact in the world), glide through pristine mangroves, and camp on uninhabited tropical beaches or near rarely visited villages.
Panama offers good conditions for river kayaking during the rainy season (April to November). The most popular rivers are the Chiriqui, Chagres, Mamoni, and Pacora. For further information on these rivers please visit our Panama Rafting section.