9 Awesome Reasons to Book a Cruise Through the Panama Canal

The idea of creating a passage that allows ships to cross from the Atlantic to the Pacific without braving the icy waters of Cape Horn has been alive and kicking since Charles V of Spain ordered a survey of the best options in 1534. From conception to the first completed passage of a single vessel, it took 380 years, 27,000 lives, and the excavation of 170,000,000 cu yards (129,974,326 m3) of earth to accomplish. It’s a modern world wonder, and for most people, seeing it for themselves is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There are lots of options for visiting the Panama Canal, but booking a cruise is one of the best, and here is why:

9. Luxury Amenities and Incredible Food on Board

Who doesn’t love trying new cuisine when they travel? For many, food is a primary reason to travel. Unfortunately, the human digestive system isn’t set up to handle the introduction of new foods without a little indigestion. Add in foreign bacteria, unpurified water, and new eating schedules, and your gut might be in for an unpleasant shock. The plus side? Travelers who book cruises have access to plenty of familiar cuisine on-board, included in the price of passage. Keeping more familiar foods in your diet can help your stomach handle new foods more easily, and cruise ships help keep that in balance. I would never recommend ignoring local cuisine completely for the tried and true staples found on-board a cruise ship, but I don’t advise indigestion and food poisoning either. Enjoy the local fare, but when you need a break, cruise cuisine is there.

cruise ship dining hall

8. To Fully Understand How it Works

Wrapping your mind around just how the locks in the canal work can be tough if you haven’t experienced them for yourself. There are three sets of locks: 1 on the Atlantic side, 1 on the Pacific side, and 1 connecting Gatun and Mira Flores Lakes. The purpose of the locks is to raise and lower the water level in each chamber using water from the lakes, and thereby allow ships to pass through what used to be solid earth. The sheer amount of water it takes to get just one ship through the canal – 26,700,000 US gal (101,000 m3) times 12 lock chambers – is staggering. All of the water comes from natural runoff into the lake and empties out into the ocean through the process. In wet, winter months, there’s plenty of water to go around. In the dry season, however, Gatun Lake may experience a shortfall.

panama canal locks

7. See the Bridge of the Americas and Centennial Bridge

The Bridge of the Americas, or Puente de las Américas in Spanish, was built in 1962 at a cost of $20 million USD. It was the first permanent bridge to cross the canal, and it is located right at the Pacific locks. It’s a cantilever bridge, which allows it to extend across the canal without any structures holding it up in the middle. The Centennial Bridge is a gorgeous cable-stay design, much like the Brooklyn Bridge in New York and the Jiang-Shaoxing Sea Bridge in China. The Centennial Bridge was completed in 2004, and completes the Pan-American Highway today. Reading about these two monumental bridges here is nothing compared to the thrill of sailing underneath them. The gorgeous harp design of the Centennial Bridge is simply stunning from any angle, and the Bridge of the Americas is imposingly impressive as well.

Centennial Bridge  Panama

6. Learn About the History of Such a Feat First Hand

Reading about the canal’s history on the web or in a book really leads to missing out on understanding the accomplishment of such a feat. It’s hard to understand the difficulty of cutting and blasting through tons of rocky terrain that reached 360 feet above sea level to create a water-bearing canal. Or the disaster that malaria and yellow fever presented for the workforce charged with creating this monumental achievement. Nearly 28,000 people – nearly a third of the total workforce – died creating this engineering masterpiece. Much of the Panama landscape and culture was effected by the canal as well. The builders agreed to lend a hand to create lasting infrastructure in the country, like schools and hospitals, which visitors can see in person. Visitors can also meet some of the locals and talk to them about how the canal’s history has changed Panama.

Tiago Lopes Fernandez / Shutterstock.com
Tiago Lopes Fernandez / Shutterstock.com

5. Cruisers Get to See Other Great South American Destinations

What’s the best South or Central American Country to visit? Can you really know without visiting them all? One of the best thing about booking a cruise, any cruise, is that passengers get a little taste of several, if not many, destinations on their floating hotel. Popular ports of call for Panama Canal cruises are Cartagena, Colombia; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; and Montego Bay, Jamaica. A trip that includes all of these locations is rare indeed, especially when you consider the travel time and cost of booking flight after flight (or passage after passage) between these ports. For around $150 USD per night (the cost of many hotels), travelers literally cruise to their next destination in their sleep. While spending just a day in these ports of call isn’t enough to sate every travelers’ curiosity, it’s a great way to help them figure out which ports they’d like to return to later for more exploration.

Cartagena, Colombia

4. The Mind-Blowing Size of Ships Allowed to Pass

Most people in the world only ever see the Panama Canal on a map or hear about it from other travelers during a slide show presentation of their vacation photos. As with most adventure tales, however, something always gets lost in translation. For the canal, that thing is the mind-blowing size of the ships that are allowed to pass through. The canal is a mere 110 feet wide and has a usable length of just 1,000 feet. Cruise ships traveling through the canal can be as large as 106 feet wide and 965 feet long. Believe it or not, this length actually has an industry-created name: Panamax. And you better believe both shipping and cruise companies use every inch! Standing on deck and gazing down at the measly 2 feet of space between the ship and the concrete edge of the canal is enough to awe any seaman, not to mention the average vacationer.

Fotos593 / Shutterstock.com
Fotos593 / Shutterstock.com

3. Booking Passage

The average fee for a passenger ship passing through the Panama Canal is a whopping $54,000 USD. These fees can quickly skyrocket even higher if you want to cut in line. The Panamax tanker Erikoussa once bypassed 90 other ships to avoid a 7-day delay, turning a fee of $13,430 into a jaw-dropping $220,300. To avoid priority passage fees, ships normally snag a spot in line a year or more in advance. These astronomical fees usually only apply to large vessels, like freighters and cruise ships. For travelers looking to book passage on a small vessel for themselves, fees start at $1,300 – about the cost of passage on a 10-day cruise that includes food, stops at several ports, and maybe a few excursions, too. Plus, cruise passengers don’t have to own or rent their own boat or worry about booking so far in advance. The cruise line takes care of it all.

briefcase full of money

2. Monkeys, Birding, Boating, and More

Along with incredible views of the canal, Gatun and Mira Flores Lakes, and an inside view of the locks, there’s plenty to explore in Panama off-ship. Walking tours and hikes are plentiful in the area for anyone who wants a close-up view of Colon, Panama City, or the surrounding jungles. Historical and educational tours of the locks are also available. There are even small passenger boat tours, where monkeys will literally climb into the seat next to you from branches that hang over the water for a slice of banana. The best part? All tours booked through the cruise company are booked with vetted, quality tour companies. Cruise passengers don’t have to worry about scheduling tours in a foreign language or getting ripped off. Rest assured, bad tours don’t generally make it onto the itinerary, and if they do, they don’t stick around for long.

sloth panama

1. The Perfect Trip

What’s the number one reason to book a cruise to the Panama Canal? Why, to enjoy the canal, of course. Let’s face it: travel can be expensive, complicated, and stressful, especially if you like to have a certain level of luxury on your trip. The point of travel is not to throw away money or stress yourself out so that you need a vacation after your vacation. Travel should be simple, and, above all, enjoyable. And for many adventurers, it is. If you’re not a seasoned traveler, or only have a limited time to experience both adventure and relaxation, book a cruise. You get all the staples, like food, lodging, and transportation for one, uncomplicated price. You get an on-board spa and pool-lounging time, plus the chance to explore numerous destinations, led by some of the best guides in the business. So the only real question is, why wouldn’t you book?

relaxing cruise couple

The 8 Cheapest Winter Vacations for 2020

While some of us are still hanging on to our pumpkin spice lattes and savoring the last days of fall, others are already daydreaming about how they’re going to escape the snow. Although lots of vacations are expensive and costs can be prohibitive for some, these 8 locations will help you travel on a budget this winter.

8. Cuba

Cuba has long been a fairly inexpensive vacation spot for Canadians and Americans willing to risk not being able to get back into their country. Although U.S. relations with Cuba have been improving, travel restrictions for tourism are still in place. For Canadians and others, Cuba remains an inexpensive Caribbean option. Havana is the place to go for the most culture, although other popular spots include Manzanillo de Cuba and Varadero. Round-trip flights can be as low as $300 USD, and hotels start at $50 USD per night. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive option, things get even more affordable: a 7-night package deal, including all taxes and fees, starts around $380 USD for 2 people.

Cuba Beach

7. Panama

Here’s a destination not many people would consider when they think about flying south for the winter: Panama. This Central American country doesn’t get a lot of love from sun-seekers. Nonetheless, Panama City is a prime destination. The flight will set you back around $550 USD to the lesser demand and more infrequent flights, but accommodations will run you around $40 USD a night for a 3-star hotel. Package deals are also available, usually running around the $1,000 USD  mark—a little higher than some would like to pay, but worth it to get to a destination that’s off the beaten path for most snowbirds. Unlike high-traffic destinations like Punta Cana and Cancun, Panama City is still economical and less likely to be overrun with spring-breakers, making for a relaxing vacation whether you go all-inclusive or not.

Panama

6. Florida

Your Florida vacation can either be really expensive or really cheap. While people flock to Orlando and Miami, there are plenty of places that offer all the sun and sand with a lower price tag. You can fly to Tampa for the same price as Miami, but you can pick up 3-star accommodations for $65 USD per night in Tampa (compare Miami at $90 USD per night). If you insist on Miami or Orlando, a flight will set you back around $200 USD, and a hotel in Orlando can cost as little as $49 USD per night. If you’re visiting either of these popular locations, definitely check into package deal options offered by travel agencies and vacation companies to see if you can get even better pricing. Other options for those looking to get off the beaten path could include West Palm Beach and Daytona Beach.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

5. Bahamas

At first glance, the Bahamas might seem overpriced to a lot of North Americans. First, they’re relatively close to Florida, but flight prices seem to jump, and hotels start around $75 USD. Package deals, in theory, should make a trip to the Bahamas a little more affordable, but the truth is that you’re better to book the Bahamas yourself. Flights can be as little $380 USD and even with the cost of accommodations for 7 days, that’s still cheaper than some of the packages out there. Selecting your own destination in the Bahamas also allows you to best pick the venues suited to your itinerary. While Freeport is an option, it is more expensive than the bigger port of Nassau. This is one destination where looking for last-minute deals and seat sales will save you more cash.

Nassau, Bahamas

4. Jamaica

How much you pay to escape to Jamaica really depends on where and how you go. For some destinations, package deals are your best bet; all-inclusive vacations for Ochos Rios start around $680 USD with all the taxes and fees in. Montego Bay, on the other hand, is better for travelers looking to build their own itineraries: a flight will set you back around $500, but accommodations can be as low as $30 or $40 USD a night. Runaway Bay is another do-it-yourself option; you’ll still need to fly into Montego Bay and accommodations are better booked on your own—a package deal in this area will actually cost you more. Kingston, the country’s capital, is more expensive to fly in to, as its airport is smaller than the one at Montego Bay.

Jamaica

3. Arizona

If you’re looking to escape the cold, why not consider Arizona? Located in the middle of a desert, Arizona is actually more pleasant during the winter months and you can score a roundtrip flight to Phoenix for about $300 USD. At the lower end of things, accommodation hovers around the $40 USD per night mark. While not exactly a high profile destination, Arizona has been gaining popularity with the snowbird crowd who are looking for alternatives to Florida, at a lower price-point than California. Phoenix, in particular, has a lot of attractions—including a number of golf courses. If you want to hit the greens, definitely consider Arizona as your winter escape. While you may not be able to pick up package deals for Arizona like you can for some sun destinations, definitely keep your eyes peeled for deals—seat sales can save you a pretty penny on airfare.

pool arizona

2. Mexico

Mexico has long been known as a haven for snowbirds looking to escape the chill of winter without feeling the pinch of their pocketbooks. While destinations like Acapulco and Cancun are on the lists of every spring-breaker, try nabbing up a cheap destination vacation to one of Mexico’s many other charming areas, like Puerto Vallarta, where a flight will cost you about $380 USD but a hotel will set you back just $35 USD a night, or you can package it up for about $600 USD. Ixtapa and Manzanillo are popular destinations as well, and both come with a similar price tag. Other, less-frequented Mexican destinations can cost a bit more since there’s less demand for flights, but hotel prices remain low throughout the country. Last-minute deals and seat-sales can be your best friends to get to these less-frequented locales.

Mexico 2

1. Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has earned a reputation among snowbirds and travelers as a relatively cheap destination to soak up some sun. Popular with spring-breakers, the Dominican Republic has a few popular destinations like Punta Cana and Puerto Plata. Flights will run you around $500 USD to either destination, but 3-star hotels are available for about $60 USD a night. Like other destination vacations in the Caribbean, you can look for a package deal to maximize your savings; roll your flight and hotel together into a 7-night all-inclusive excursion for about $900 USD. Other popular destinations on the island include Santo Domingo, which is a better book-it-yourself option; the flight is slightly more expensive than other areas on the island, but accommodations will set you back just $35 USD a night.

Punta Cana Dominican Republic

10 Unexpected Kid-Friendly Vacation Destinations

Beyond the Disney World’s, the aquariums, the all-inclusive resorts and the cruise ships; there is a whole other world of vacation destinations that are kid-friendly. Although at one time these destinations may have catered to only adults, in recent years they are encouraging families to visit and making it more affordable and easier to do so. From the mountains of Argentina to the coast of Wales to the heart of Brazil; these 10 unexpected kid-friendly destinations will have you booking your flights in no time. But hurry, before everyone else realizes what really awaits families here.

10. Patagonia, Argentina

Patagonia has always been known as an incredible adventure destination but in recent years more and more families have taken to traveling here. It could be that the breathtaking landscapes that boast mountains, lakes, fiords and glaciers beckon to both kids and adults alike, or perhaps parents are discovering this destination which encourages kids to switch off their electronics. There is an abundance of guided walks, boat rides and horseback rides that are designed with kids in mind. The landscape here is rich with wildlife including gray foxes, cougars, whales, sea lions and eagles and if you are traveling with older kids mountaineering is a popular option to see some of these.  To get the kids excited about traveling here make sure to let them watch Ice Age before you go, where glaciers and fiords come to life. Plenty of family lodges and restaurants make this destination perfect for your next family vacation.

Penguins Patagonia, Argentina

9. Croatia

One wouldn’t necessarily think of traveling to Croatia for a family vacation, as it is well-known for two things; its line-up of music festivals and a romantic seaside getaway. Families should be happy to know though that this breathtaking landscape is the perfect spot to bring the kids. Croatia boasts many family-friendly hotels that include kids clubs, private pools and planned activities. Even though this country is known for its elegant cuisine, kids here will find plenty of pasta and pizza on the menus, along with ice cream parlors on every corner. The long stretches of beaches are one of the biggest reasons to head here with the kids. Many of them boast facilities such as restrooms, snack bars and even lifeguards. This country loves children and while traveling here with them, you will be welcomed into every restaurant, museum or any other activity you want to explore.

Beach Dubrovnik Croatia

8. South Africa

Whether you are looking for a beach vacation or something more along the lines of a safari; South Africa is the perfect place to do so with the kids in tow. The excellent weather, breathtaking scenery, accommodations that fit your budget and a variety of activities to be had; the long flight is definitely worth it. Hotels that are specially geared towards families are speckled throughout the country and come with amenities such as kids clubs and experienced babysitters. These hotels often offer discounts for kids and many of them even offer ‘kids stay free’ promotions. Wildlife safaris can be planned on malaria-free reserves with all-inclusive lodges and an exciting kid’s program. Some even offer horseback riding and cycling safaris; which prove to be popular with kids. First-world amenities make it easy for the whole family to enjoy this country with kid’s menus in the restaurants and excellent road infrastructure.

Cape Town South Africa

7. Panama

It is one of Central America’s hottest new destinations and the biggest decision that families face when visiting this country is deciding where to go. This country is packed with wildlife, jungles, a remarkable canal system, fascinating islands and impressive history. A good tip in this exotic location is the fact you can drink the tap water safely, a bonus for families with kids who need plenty of hydration! Discover the jungle and wildlife with one of many family friendly guided tours, charter a boat around the islands or play in the surf at one of the many beaches. If you are looking to explore Panama City, it has never been a safer option than now and families will love strolling through the historic neighborhoods, biking along the paths, tasting unique fruits from the markets and enjoying one of the many ice-cream stands that are always nearby.

Panama

6. Sedona, Arizona

This vast natural playground provides the perfect setting for a family destination, whether you want to explore the red rocks and their geology, slide down a waterslide or pick out constellations in the night sky. A jeep tour through Sedona that caters to families is the perfect way to start your vacation as guides will educate you on the land, the rock formations and point out flora and fauna you will see throughout your visit. A visit here must include time spent at Slide Rock State Park where kids and adults will slide down the natural water chute, swim in the pools and enjoy a day of hiking. Camp Verde is also a must do on this family vacation with its zoo, zip lines and a close up look at Montezuma Castle. Plenty of kid-friendly accommodations and restaurants make it easy to plan your next family vacation to Sedona.

Wollertz / Shutterstock.com
Wollertz / Shutterstock.com

5. Hong Kong

If you can overcome the idea of taking your kids on quite a long flight, Hong Kong is perhaps one of the most underrated kid friendly destinations in the world. Underneath the modern skyscrapers that dot the landscape lays an array of kid-friendly activities, hotels and restaurants. The two theme parks here; Ocean Park and Disneyland Hong Kong are a huge hit with families and unlike other monstrous theme parks, these are small enough that kids can walk around and are less crowded than other theme parks. The people of Hong Kong love children and everywhere you go you will find someone willing to lend a hand, give up their seat and make your experience even more memorable. The luxury hotels here cater to families which means you won’t have to give up first-class amenities; some of the features for kids include kiddie pools, playgrounds, babysitters and baby equipment.

Hong Kong Observation Wheel

4. Wales, U.K.

If you are looking for a family vacation in the U.K. but don’t want to pay the high prices and fight the crowds in London, Wales is the absolute perfect solution. Only a two hour drive away from London is a world full of natural wonders, kid-friendly bargain accommodations and enough activities to fill your days for weeks. This destination is for families who love to camp or stay in cottages as there are an abundance of options, from ‘glamping’ in a yurt to staying in a self-catering cottage on the coast. If exploring the outdoors is on your list of things to do, Wales has you covered with its numerous mountain climbs and loads of nature reserves complete with boardwalks that make pushing a stroller a breeze. For the families that are seeking a little more excitement make sure to check out the zip lining adventures, underground trampolines and white water rafting.

Jason Batterham / Shutterstock.com
Jason Batterham / Shutterstock.com

3. Las Vegas, Nevada

It has long been known as the ultimate playground for adults but Las Vegas is surprisingly kid-friendly. This city may just offer more entertainment and activities for children than anywhere else in North America, other than Orlando. Staying here is a breeze as many of the hotels cater specifically for families and if you are looking for something a little quieter, many of them are located just a short shuttle trip away from the strip. Amenities such as kid’s pools, babysitting, playgrounds, camps and organized activities are all found in the hotels. Despite popular belief, a family vacation here can also be quite affordable with the many free attractions including free shows, street performers and admission to certain attractions. The best part of taking the kids to Vegas might just be watching their reaction as they see life-sized replicas of some of the most famous landmarks in the world.

Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock.com
Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock.com

2. Atlantic City, New Jersey

It may be known for its casinos and entertainment but Atlantic City certainly shouldn’t be thought of as an adults-only destination. This city has in recent years has put a big push on promoting itself as a family-friendly city which means you can score great deals on hotels which are catering to families. Choose a hotel that has a pool, kid’s programs and restaurants within to make your trip even easier. Many families are now choosing a non-gaming hotel when they visit here. Beaches line the Atlantic Ocean complete with surfing and kayaking opportunities. The Steel Pier is located on the boardwalk and features many rides and attractions for families, with even a kiddies-ride area. The Atlantic City Aquarium, the IMAX theater and historic landmarks are all just a short drive away.

Pier Atlantic City, New Jersey

1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio is often known for its beautiful people and beautiful beaches but underneath all of that is an extremely kid-friendly city that absolutely loves children of all ages. Restaurants that have attached playgrounds are the norm here, as are kid-friendly beaches and an abundance of family activities. Some of the beaches have organized kids activities, along with a slightly calmer feel than many of the popular crowded, beats-pumping ones. A train ride to see the iconic Christ the Redeemer Statue, aerial cable car rides, a walk in the rainforest and enough fresh juices, ice cream and pastries to keep the kids happy all day long proves that Rio can be just as fun for kids as it can for adults. Enjoy the hotels where kids stay free, the restaurants where they eat free and the welcoming arms of the people who will gladly juggle your screaming baby when you are trying to enjoy your meal.

Filipe Frazao / Shutterstock.com
Filipe Frazao / Shutterstock.com

10 Things to See and Do in Panama

This stunning country has been opening its arm to tourists for centuries, but is just starting to become one of the hottest countries to visit in Central America. Packed into this little country is an amazing amount of diversity from its hip nightlife scene to tropical rainforests to mountain reserves to thousands of islands featuring white sand and stunning azure waters. Take a visit to one of the villages of indigenous people or scuba dive in a marine national park. Whatever it is you are after; Panama is where you will find it. Here are 10 amazing things to see and do in this country.

10. Canoe to Embera Indian Village

Visiting an authentic Indian Village in the luscious jungle should be at the top of your list of things to do in Panama. These agricultural people live in small communities deep in the jungle and have survived by growing their own crops, fishing and hunting. There are many guided tours that are being offered out to these tribes who welcome tourists with warm arms. Groups will take a canoe ride through the jungle to the shores of the communities where you will have the chance to immerse yourself into their culture. Learn about the history of these indigenous people, learn about their way of life and enjoy lunch with the community. Visiting an Embera Village is not only a fun experience, but gives visitors the chance to understand this culture and its values.

Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com
Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

9. Surf in Santa Catalina

This quiet fishing village located off Panama’s Pacific Coast may just be its best kept secret, but probably not for long. As of now the village is remote and unspoiled, drawing surfers and divers from all over the world to explore its landscape. You won’t find shopping malls or famous landmarks here though; instead visitors will be privy to a laid-back atmosphere, sandy beaches and some of the most regular and best surf breaks in all of Central America. You will have your choice of surf camps here as a number of them have sprung up in the last several years, as well as your choice of many restaurants. The surf here is best for experienced surfers as the bottom is rocky and the waves roll in all year round ranging from four to 20 feet. If you are looking to catch a wave in Panama, this is where to do so.

shutterstock_106046411

8. Hit the Beach

Panama is home to hundreds of kilometers of coastline, both on the Pacific and Caribbean sides and it should come as no surprise that hitting the beach should be one of the first things to do when you arrive. The key to finding a good beach in Panama though is to head to one of the many islands, you will have your choice with over 1,500 islands in total. The Pearl Islands offer white-sand beaches, excellent snorkeling conditions and calm waters. They also happen to be relatively un-crowded, a major bonus if you are looking for some privacy. San Blas is a paradise unlike any other and boast an archipelago of over 100 islands, some just rings of white sand. The atmosphere here is relaxing and think relaxing in a hammock while sipping a tropical drink.

Pearl Island

7. Visit the Museum of Biodiversity

If you want to learn more about the history of Panama and the diversity of nature in this country, the Museum of Biodiversity should be one of your first stops. This museum was built in 2014 and designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry who donated his design to the people of Panama. The result is a brilliant colored building placed right near the water, offering an extraordinary learning experience for all. Visitors to this museum will find a plethora of exhibits in place, as well as many more on the way as this museum develops over the years. For now you will learn about the biodiversity of Panama through an audio guide, a rainforest and nature centre and an aquarium. Part of the admission price goes back into developing the museum and while the architecture is truly marvelous, make sure to go inside and educate yourself.

Photo by: BioMuseo Panama
Photo by: BioMuseo Panama

6. Summit Volcan Baru

It is one of the only places in the world in which you can see both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea at the same time with the naked eye. This dormant volcano is no easy mountain to summit though and hikers who make it their goal to be on top will need to be prepared. Perhaps that is why this feat is one of the most rewarding things to do in Panama. The hike itself will last anywhere from four to six hours and is a combination of gentle slopes and steep inclines. The best time to start your hike up this volcano is midnight as it offers the best chance of seeing both oceans from the summit. Many times just after the sun has risen, the clouds roll in making it impossible to see much of anything from the summit. The sight of both oceans, from the naked eye is something you will never forget.

Photo by: Ariel Rodriguez-Vargas via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Ariel Rodriguez-Vargas via Wikimedia Commons

5. Dive or Snorkel at Coiba National Park

Located 30 miles off the Panamanian coast in the Gulf of Chiriquí lay the incredible Coiba Marine National Park. There is a total of 800 marine species that call this area home and therefore offers some of the best diving along the Pacific Coast. Because of its remoteness most visitors rely on a tour operator to get them out to the Island where beautiful beaches and warm waters await. Diving and/or snorkeling here is absolutely breathtaking. From schools of colorful fish to coral to rays, dolphins and turtles; the marine life is plentiful in every direction. If you want to spend the night on the island the only place to do so is at the ranger station in a rustic dorm style room with bunk beds. Staying overnight will give visitors the chance to explore the hiking trails on the island and the many exotic bird species that call this place home.

Cobia National Park

4. Bike Along Amador Causeway

Located at the mouth of the Panama Canal the Amador Causeway is a four km biking and running path that links the Canal Zone neighborhood of Balboa to Flamenco and Perico Island. The causeway offers some of the greatest views of the Panama City skyline and the Pacific Ocean entrance of the Canal. The easiest way to enjoy the views is to rent a bike from one of the nearby bike rental shops. Along the causeway are numerous restaurants, shops, the Museum of Biodiversity and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute which is home to a few animals and numerous species of fish. Biking along here at sunset is one of the best times to do so as the views get even more incredible. Along the way expect to see other tourists walking and biking, fisherman hauling in their lines and locals enjoying ice-cream. A true taste of what Panama really stands for.

Amador Causeway

3. Discover Panama City

One of the best ways to explore Panama City is to take a self-guided walking tour, a guided walking tour or hop on a sightseeing bus. Panama City is actually comprised of three cities, the ruins of the 16th century original city Panama Viejo, the Spanish colonial city Casco Viejo, and the modern skyscraper city. The favorite of the three happens to be Casco Viejo, the city built in 1671. This vibrant and colorful neighborhood recently went under renovations and now features many restored hotels and restaurants that lie side by side with crumbling buildings. This city also offers the hottest nightlife scene and enjoys sweeping ocean and city bay views. The ruins of Panama Viejo on the other hand are extensive and incredibly remarkable. There is a small museum with a number of displays but it is recommended you take a Spanish guide along with you as many of them are not in English.

Casco Viejo

2. Visit the Bocas del Toro Archipelago

It is Panama’s most visited eco-tourism destination featuring nine main islands, 52 cays, and thousands of islets along with being one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. It is here where you will find natural raw beauty in cloud forest mountains, palm lined beaches and clear waters teeming with colorful fish and coral. The activities here are endless from zip lining through the jungle canopy to horseback riding along the beach to discovering indigenous communities. This destination offers the rare combination of premium accommodations set in a lush tropical paradise. Whether you are coming here to explore the Home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Panama’s first National Marine Park or to relax on one of the beautiful Caribbean beaches; this archipelago has it all.

Bocas del Toro Archipelago

1. See the Panama Canal

The best way to see the Panama Canal, which stretches 80 km, is to head to the Miraflores Locks. Here there is a very informative visitor’s center which is home to a theatre, three observation terraces, gift shop, restaurant and four exhibition halls. For history and engineering buffs the sight is truly spectacular, a system of locks that was built over 100 years ago, yet operates as it were just built yesterday. Watching the water rush in to fill the locks and lift the ships is simply remarkable to watch and this canal is responsible for providing passage for nearly 14,000 ocean vessels a year. We suggest grabbing a beer and sitting at one of the bars and watching the huge ships pass by, as well as checking out the museum and 3D movie. It wouldn’t be a trip to Panama without exploring the Canal.

Panama Canal

10 Private Islands You Can Own Today

Owning your own private island is the ultimate dream for many people. Lucky for them, it no longer has to be just a dream. If you happen to have a few million sitting around in the bank it is actually quite easy to buy an island. Don’t despair if you don’t have quite a million dollars though, there are actually some affordable islands for sale across the globe. What are you waiting for? Empty out the bank account and go buy one of these 10 private islands that are for sale right now!

10. Pink Pearl Island -Nicaragua

If you have ever wanted to own an island and make money doing it, Pink Pearl Island may be for you. Located just 3 miles off Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast, the area is known for its excellent diving and sport fishing. The island is currently operating as a tourism business but can be turned into your own private residence easily. It features a cylinder main house, three cabanas, a fisherman style shack and a bar/restaurant. The best part about this island may just be the absence of mosquitoes and sand flies. Throw in a heart shaped swimming pool with a fresh water pump, stunning ocean views, a pier to dock your boat and its own well to supply water and you have yourself a pretty amazing slice of paradise. Did we happen to mention that the owners of this island are also throwing in their 25 foot, 150 horsepower speedboat in?

Photo by: Islands
Photo by: Islands

9. Mccaffrey Island -Oregon, USA

If you would prefer to purchase an island a little closer to home, Mccaffrey Island may be just what you are looking for. Listed at $1.25 million this island comes complete with a gorgeous five bedroom house, sandy beach and its own well. It is located on the Yaquina River only 6 miles by boat to the open ocean. The island features apple trees which the deer frequently visit, a covered deck, complete with a fire pit and the most gorgeous scenery and sunsets. The island was truly built to be enjoyed by people who love nature and are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but with the conveniences making it feel like home.

Yaquina River

8. Nukudrau Island -Fiji

This island is located in the largest bay in the Southern Hemisphere, Natewa Bay and surrounded by crystal clear waters of the South Pacific. It is an undeveloped island currently separated into 25 individual lots, letting buyers decide whether to keep the island to themselves or develop into a resort. What surrounds this island is simply magical; amazing snorkeling, diving, fishing and a resident pod of dolphins that will delight you. This blank canvas allows your imagination to run wild and if you have big enough pockets, you could build your dream home. The seven peaks that rise up out of the sea on this island are the perfect spot to build on. The island is a total of 46 acres and the price unfortunately is not listed, so if you are serious about owning this island it is best to contact the seller.

Fiji Island

7. Pate Island -Ontario, Canada

All you will need to bring to this island is your groceries as the home; all its furnishing and appliances are being sold along with the island. Located on Georgian Bay in Ontario this island is 4.5 acres and offers some of the best sunset views in the whole country. The house is a three bedroom, two bathroom cottage style, complete with a stone fireplace, open concept kitchen and cedar wraparound porch. The far end of the island boasts a sheltered harbor that features a boathouse and ‘U” shaped docking pier. All the docks lead to deep clean water and the scenery surrounding this island makes it easy to understand why people love the area. The price tag is currently at $1.3 million and once you see this island, you will understand why.

Georgian Bay

6. Pumpkin Key -Florida, USA

If you want to go all out and spend a hundred million dollars; this would be the island to buy. Pumpkin Key is located in the Florida Keys and just a short boat ride away from Key Largo or helicopter ride to Miami. This private island is a total of 26 acres and includes one main house, a dock masters cabin and two caretaker cottages. It also happens to have tennis courts and golf cart paths throughout. This island is surrounded with ocean that is teeming with marine life such as dolphins, sport fish and lobsters. World renowned snorkeling, scuba diving and sport fishing is just outside the doors. Buying this island also means access to Ocean Reef, a private and prestigious club that offers dining, shopping and its own private airstrip.

Key Largo

5. Mowgli Island -British Columbia, Canada

If you aren’t keen about hurricane season, tropical weather and too much sunshine; there is still an island for you. Located within the Southern Gulf Islands sits Mowgli Island; a nine acre gem that will quickly get snatched up. This island features sandy beaches, an ‘L’ shaped dock for year round mooring of vessels and an incredible house. The house features four impressive bedrooms and a separate bunkhouse for guests, as well as 1,000 square feet of deck that surrounds the house. It is nestled right into the trees and features many windows allowing for the most natural light to shine through. A pier extends into the water and many different shorelines can be explored. Impressive scenery, an award winning house and a beautiful country; what more could you ask for.

Photo by: Private Islands Inc.
Photo by: Private Islands Inc.

4. Temple Island -Queensland, Australia

Coming in just shy of a million dollars, this property was reduced for quick sale and is expected to be swiped any day now. Situated about two miles off the coast of Queensland, this island offers everything you need. A private airstrip making it easy to get to, a four bedroom home set on top the highest vantage point on the island and white sand beaches. Temple Island is home to sea turtles during nesting season, plenty of orchids, rainforest and a slew of oyster whales. They will even throw in the 1986 Range Rover that is on the island; although we cannot be sure if it still works or not. One of the best deals in Australia is Temple Island coming in at $850,000. Scoop this island up before it’s too late.

Queensland Shore

3. Isla Paloma -Panama

For just $400,000 dollars you can be the owner of the quarter acre Isla Paloma, located just off the northern shore of Panama. The island is located in calm waters, surrounded by barrier islands and comes complete with a house already on it. It features a white sandy beach, and is surrounded by a shallow lagoon. Views are of the mountains, oceans and incredible sunsets. The house is completely furnished and features two bedrooms plus a loft and is move-in ready. Did we mention this island also features a party shack, boathouse and swim dock. It  also boasts that it is spider and snake free due to its size and proximity to other islands. The only things you will find here are colorful exotic birds and a couple of local geckos. The only question here is why hasn’t someone snatched up this amazing island already?

Photo by: Private Islands Inc.
Photo by: Private Islands Inc.

2. Jewel Caye -Belize

This 2+ acre private island is currently on the market for $3.15 million. This pristine islands sits smack down in the midst of the azure waters of the Cockney Range Area. It is home to two master houses, one on each side of the island and each over 2,000 square feet. Both have lofts and tons of balcony space; perfect for family and friends. Two more duplexes and a total of three homes for crew are also located on this island. But that is not all. Along with plenty of space for visitors this island is home to a 120 foot pier that stretches out over the water and opens up to the main kitchen, bar and convening area. Step off the ladder into the clear waters that are loaded with visible coral, a snorkeler’s paradise. The island is also equipped with WiFi, satellite TV and electrical systems powered by solar panels. This island truly leaves no stone unturned.

Photo by: Private Islands Inc.
Photo by: Private Islands Inc.

1. Johnny’s Cay -Bahamas

This island paradise is 4.46 acres and can be yours for the price of just $5.95 million. It is also located just a seven minute boat ride away from all the conveniences of Hope Town. There are two houses already on this island, a main house that boasts an open concept layout with high ceilings, large windows and two bedrooms alongside a guest house with an extra two bedrooms for visitors. Two white sandy beaches provide ample room to stretch out and relax and enjoy the calm, deep and protected waters. A man built marina is already on-site, perfect for parking your boat. Ocean views, water sports and a private island to yourself, what more could anyone need.

Photo by: Joao Carlos Medau via Flickr
Photo by: Joao Carlos Medau via Flickr

13 Places to See While Single

Travelling single for the first time can be downright scary but if you have courage to take the plunge it’s something you won’t regret. To travel single is to indulge one’s self. Whether you want to party hard in a hot sunny destination where the drinks keep flowing and the bars never close, or whether you want to find inner peace in a tranquil setting where reading a book on the beach all day is encouraged; there is a place for every single traveler in this world. From the beaches of Costa Rica to the mountains of New Zealand, these destinations are full of adventure, relaxation and friendly locals and fellow travelers that will make you feel at home. When you need some time alone; pack your bags, hop on a plane and explore the twelve best places to travel when single.

13. Cali, Colombia

As Colombia’s third largest city; Cali parties more than any other city in this country. Known as The Salsa capital of the World, you can dance from dusk until dawn; no questions asked. If you are looking to relax after a big night of salsa dancing, why not head to the Cali Zoo. The focus here is on Colombian wildlife and education. Stroll through the lush city park and and grab a bite of the seafood chowder or lobster that is always offered. Boasting some of the most beautiful women in the world, professional salsa dancers at every turn and a warm sultry temperature all year long; this city is a must visit when single.

Cali Colombia

12. Iceland

With a country built on tourism and not the most romantic place you think of when you think vacation, Iceland is the perfect destination for the single traveler. Most locals speak impeccable English and English signs and menus are offered throughout the country putting single travelers at ease. Home of the excursion day trips, Iceland offers a chance to meet fellow travelers while whale watching, hiking or relaxing in the hot springs. Catch the northern lights from September to April or choose to travel from mid-May to August where midnight sun keeps it light 24/7. Don’t be fooled by the serenity of this country, the locals also know how to throw a party and keep it going all night long; especially during the summer months.

Reykjavik Iceland

11. Australia

Home to thousands of solo travelers a year, you certainly won’t stick out here if you are alone. Besides the irresistible accents and the sense of welcoming from the locals; you will find a never ending supply of hostels that are begging to be stayed in. From snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef to climbing The Blue Mountains in Sydney to exploring the Outback; Australia is a perfect place to check off some of those things on your bucket list. Make new friends, fall in love with the countryside and explore some fantastic beaches. From Sydney to Perth; Australia as a whole is considered incredibly safe for international travelers.

Filipe Frazao / Shutterstock.com
Filipe Frazao / Shutterstock.com

10. Panama

With solo travel being a norm and English widely spoken throughout the city, Panama City has much to see and do. With its lively and diverse culture coupled with the famous Panama Canal and being one of the friendliest Central American destinations, this country can’t be missed. For the single adventure traveler this country is packed with zip lining, white water rafting and surfing opportunities. For a more laid back vacation one must not miss travelling to the San Blas Islands where tourism has not yet taken over. The native Kuna’s control this land and you will find untouched nature and beauty. Sail the islands, sleep in eco-friendly accommodations and embrace your soul here. Make sure to give yourself time to really enjoy all this country has to offer.

San Blas Islands, Panama

9. Maui, Hawaii

Pristine white sand beaches, friendly local people and a currency that won’t have you scratching your head in confusion, Maui is the perfect Hawaiian Island to visit as a single traveler. If adults-only resorts are something that you’re looking for, Lahaina in West Maui has no shortage of them. Five star hotels line the ocean with private beach access, pools and spas. If a condo rental is more your style there are plenty to rent steps from the ocean. Renting a car from the airport is faster than claiming your luggage and driving the Island is just one way to see the beauty. Stand up paddle board with the sea turtles, kayak with the whales and attend a beach/ohana party.

Maui, Hawaii

8. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Although not the safest of cities on our list; Rio deserves to be one of the top twelve places to see when single. Where else boasts gorgeous mountains, pristine beaches and a party like Carnaval? Besides having one of the best hotel bars in the world (check out the Fasano Hotel), Rio is known for its beaches. Take a walk around and mingle with the locals on the beach and we promise you an invite to a party. Make sure to hook up with some fellow travelers and explore the beautiful downtown area lined with churches and museums. If you are going to visit during the biggest carnival in the world, be sure to book early and prepare yourself for a lot of dancing and little sleep.

Celso Pupo / Shutterstock.com
Celso Pupo / Shutterstock.com

7. New York City

It is hard to feel alone when you are immersed in a city that’s home to more than 18 million people. This concrete jungle is packed with so much to do you won’t have time to even remember that you’re travelling single. Now is the time to spoil your single self and dine out at a world renowned restaurant (If you feel overwhelmed by dining single, make reservations at non-peak times) or catch that Broadway Show you have always wanted to see. Climb up The Empire State Building, take a boat to see The Statue of Liberty or stroll through Central Park. There isn’t a better place in the world to check out the nightlife than in the “city that never sleeps”.

Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com
Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com

6. Costa Rica

For the backpacker adventurer Costa Rica is a must visit when solo. With two major airports to fly into and endless stretches of beach and jungle; there is something for everyone. Relatively safe and reasonably priced makes Costa Rica desirable to travelers. While there why not join a surf camp and learn to surf while meeting fellow travelers. Take a ride into the rainforest where you can discover sloths, monkeys and a variety of lizards, snakes and frogs. Immerse yourself in the culture and eat locally or try your hand at the nightlife that often lasts until dawn. Whatever it is you do here, we promise you will enjoy it. The locals are friendly, the beer is cheap and the weather is warm, what else does a single traveler need?

Pura Vida Costa Rica

5. Bali, Indonesia

Yoga on the beach. Lodging on the beach. Temples and Ruins. Beautiful beaches and clear water. Must we say more? Packed with spiritual seekers, backpackers and international travelers; Bali is the perfect get away for the single soul seeking traveler. The Balinese people are known to be friendly, welcoming and make you feel right at home. Rent a motorbike, take a stroll through town or raft down the Ayung River for a little adventure. If you are looking to explore a less remote place, hop on a plane to a smaller island; we suggest Lombok. Filled with local markets, celebrations and temples like none other; Bali is the perfect place to relax, unwind and really find your inner zen.

Bali, Indonesia

4. Miami, Florida

For the single traveler who is ready to party, look no further than Miami. With beautiful weather, beautiful beaches and beautiful people; Miami is a hot destination for single travelers. Head to South Beach where you will find no shortage of velvet rope lined nightclubs with the hippest DJ’s. Bask in the sun on Miami Beach where countless events and activities run year round. Be prepared to open your wallet in this town; this is not for the backpacker. Hotels will be a major expense but if you want the royal treatment, book yourself into one that offers a spa and bask in the glory. Make sure to dine out at one of Miami’s waterfront restaurants and enjoy a sunset view.

Miami club

3.  New Zealand

With a landscape of rolling hills to jagged mountaintops, New Zealand is not only beautiful but one of the safest countries to visit. Friendly, open-minded locals make this destination a favorite for single travelers. Meet fellow adventures while you are bungee jumping or jet boating the rivers. Find friends in The Lord of The Rings tour; where you can tour actual filming locations. Relax in thermal hot springs after a day of wine touring or take in a Rugby game with the famous Maori players. With New Zealand being one of the best hiking (or “tramping” as the locals call it) destinations in the world, don’t miss out on partaking in one of the nine epic hikes through the countryside. “Wow” just won’t sum up this vacation destination.

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand

2. Ireland

A country filled with friendly people, beautiful historic bed and breakfasts and a whole lot of pubs; Ireland rounds off our top twelve destinations to travel to when single. Locals are more than happy to share directions, stories and a pint of Guinness with any traveler that crosses their path. Countless castles, shamrock tours and a pub at every corner means lots of fellow solo travelers to meet. Take a trip to Dingle beach and meet the local dolphin or join one of many guided tours around Ireland. If you don’t mind driving on the left hand side of the road, rent a car and explore the monuments of prehistoric Ireland at Bru na Boinne or the Titanic Museum at Cobh. Ireland will make any solo traveler feel welcome, as that is the way of the Irish.

Kylemore Abbey in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.

1. Ibiza, Spain

Though recent tourism efforts are trying to steer this city towards a more family friendly vibe, Ibiza is still one of the most notorious party destinations on the planet making it ideal for the single traveler. It’s filled with colorful clubs that run till the sun comes up, booming house and trance music and people who want nothing more than to party all night long surrounded by beautiful people. Big name DJ’s are always coming through hosting mega parties that’ll keep you dancing all night long. This little island’s nightlife is centered on 2 areas: Ibiza Town on the southern shore and Sant Antoni to the west. No matter which spot you choose as your base you’re guaranteed an outrageous and unforgettable vacation.

Beach party Ibiza, Spain