We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Panama with 5 and 6 year old

Baltimore
Level Contributor
90 posts
2 reviews
Save Topic
Panama with 5 and 6 year old

Considering Panama for a summer vacation this year. I'd like a combination of sitting pool/beachside relaxing with sightseeing and getting some local flavor. I haven't really started doing much research and was hoping some of you could provide info. We'll definately see the canal as my 6 year old is totally into any kind of engineering project. I've heard about the train to Colon and a zip line in the rainforest canopy (not sure kids are old enough). My 5 year old love animals so we'll go to the zoo. Is driving relatively safe to be taking the kids around? How rainy is August?

Panama City, Panama
Destination Expert
for Panama
Level Contributor
1,969 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Panama with 5 and 6 year old

Let's work backwards...

August is a great month - while it is rainy season the rain tends to be in short downpours and August is usually the driest of the rainy season months. Many of us who live here prefer the rainy season.

I drive all over Panama with my now 8-year old and have been since he was born - bring your car seats with you.

The train to Colon is one of my favorite trips and the kids will be thrilled there is a dome viewing car as well. You need to sort out what to do over that side - you could do a day pass at the Melia and laze by the pool or you could explore the Gatun Locks, Fort San Lorenzo or venture down to Portobelo. There are a couple of tour companies that can do this - you also have the option of driving one way and train the other.

There is a zip line out by Portobelo but I haven't had a chance to visit it yet the other one closest to Panama City is El Valle - a good place for the kids - a little bit cooler and there's a small zoo up there - easy access back to the beaches.

Coronado or Santa Clara also might be good options - although the place I was thinking of in Santa Clara doesn't have a pool also depends on budget.

There is also the Summit Gardens on the way to Gamboa with some modernized displays - they are working closely with the Houston Zoo to fully modernize their animal enclosures and quite a ways to go yet but the kids will love it.

Feel free to PM me if you want more details - would help to know time frame, budget etc.

Cheers,

Andrew

Baltimore
Level Contributor
90 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Panama with 5 and 6 year old

So I've done a little reading and this is what I've found out. August would be the raining season but it's not that bad (especially in the Playa Blanca/Farallon area) although it is humid. I live in Maryland and have very humid and stagnant summers. I think I would prefer not to rent a car (driving sounds too harrowing). The things which sound interesting to me (and hopefully my family) are:

Panama Canal - either Miraflores or boat passage

Embera Indian Village

Train to Colon

El Valle

Gamboa - Aerial Tram and Monkey Island

Many of these are pretty expensive but I think they are something we wouldn't be able to experience elsewhere. I haven't studied a map but it seems most of these places are closest to PC so staying a couple of days in PC is a better idea than trying to do these from the 'beach', right? I definitely would like to relax at the beach for some time too. If we stay at one of the resorts at Playa Blanca are there off resort restaurants. I'm not so much into buffet/mass market foods but without a car not sure what we'd be able to do. Any thoughts/comments/suggestions to my post?

Just out of curiosity, what countries do most tourists come from? From a couple of places it seems there are a lot of French Canadians/Canadians. Do many come from South America or Europe or Australia?

Florence, Oregon
Level Contributor
887 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Panama with 5 and 6 year old

Yes, you'd be wise to split your time between PC and the beach.

Not many restaurants near Playa Blanca; a couple on the beach, and a great one called Los Camisones on the highway.

At the mega resorts, the tourists come from all over. Greatest numbers are from Central and South America (mainly Colombia & Venezuela), with Canadians and Americans second.

Baltimore
Level Contributor
90 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Panama with 5 and 6 year old

I checked the weather in Panama with that in Orlando in August and they seem to be about the same so that's good.

I asked about where the tourists are because I have travelled some this will be the first time with my kids. I've been to 6-8 countries in Europe as well as Rio de Janiero but all before kids and most with a group or 'native'. We've takent the kids to NYC, DC and Toronto and I'm OK there. My Spanish is broken from high school so that makes me feel a little comfortable. I feel a little anxiety about going out of the country with the kids. If it were just my husband and I, I would be fine. The kids are excited by the idea of Panama and my interest in travel and different cultures seems to have worn off on them. Next year we plan to go to Greece with my husband and his family (where they are from). I certainly don't want to keep them sheltered in the US and not see other places and this seems like a great place to start. The only way to appreciate others is to meet them and be open to new ideas. Thanks for letting me ramble.

Panama City, Panama
Destination Expert
for Panama
Level Contributor
1,969 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Panama with 5 and 6 year old

Kids will have a great time - Panamanians love kids.

When in Panama City you don't need a car at all - if you get a central hotel/apartment (look at Torres de Alba - they have kitchenettes and are more in line with your budget)... lots of restaurants (local types) nearby.

Panama Canal - either Miraflores or boat passage

(these are Saturdays only in August)

Embera Indian Village

Train to Colon

Gamboa - Aerial Tram and Monkey Island

You would definitely do all these from Panama City and taxis or local tour op would be best bet.

El Valle is best combined with the beaches - easy day trip from the beach - Sunday's have a larger market but there's a smaller one everyday.

I would suggest renting a car for your beach days as it will give you more freedom for eating out and exploring and once out of the city the driving is easy - it's just madness in the city!!!

Hope this helps,

Andrew

Austin
Level Contributor
910 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Panama with 5 and 6 year old

We visited Panama last August with our five year-old daughter. She loved the place.

PC area highlights for munchkin:

Embera Indian Village. Loved the tattoo and very disappointed when it wore off. Also got a big kick eating fish out of a bowl made from a huge leaf. Canoe trip there also a kick. (Anne Gordon's tour)

Playa Blanca. Loved the pools, the swim up bar, the beach and the kids program at night. Playa Blanca is all-inclusive and for two days, the buffet food is fine. (Downing all-inclusive few pina coladas will make you forget your unease with buffet food.) She also met some nice kids from different countries. This was my third trip to Panama and we only did PB on the recommendation of our Panamanian friends (and we are not resort people), but I am so glad we did. It was very relaxing downtime and I enjoyed watching my daughter make friends.

The two above places she still talks about. Other favs at the time:

Dinner at Mira Flores Locks. Sat on the balcony and watched the ship traffic. Loved waving to the crews.

Panama Viejo. My kid loves ruins.

Presidential Palace. Loved the herons and weirdly enough fascinated by the decor.

Overall, great trip for us, the friends and the kiddo.

Bring good waterproof/water-friendly clothes. We are glad we did since it poured while we were on the canal boat trip.

Baltimore
Level Contributor
90 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Panama with 5 and 6 year old

thanks everyone. sounds great. My husband said he's good with it as long as HE doesn't get bored. I don't think we have to worry about that. I'll share these posts with him. He still wants to go to San Fransisco and Alcatraz. I say another trip.

Baltimore
Level Contributor
90 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Panama with 5 and 6 year old

One other question. What if I didn't want an AI type resort but perhaps a little town with a beach and local restaurants and shops. Somewhere we could walk around. I still would like to split my time in PC and somewhere a little less city.

Also I love seeing local dance shows. I realize that these are rather touristy but I like them none the less.

Panama City, Panama
Destination Expert
for Panama
Level Contributor
1,969 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Panama with 5 and 6 year old

There's the Coronado area - there is a fairly new B&B there but I haven't had a change to visit yet... Quite a few options for restaurants, supermarket etc - more of a village atmosphere than say Santa Clara where there's fewer options... If you had a car, just up the road is San Carlos.

Hope this helps,

Andrew

Salt Lake City, Utah
Level Contributor
623 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Panama with 5 and 6 year old

Or fly to Bocas, more of a walking town.