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Authentic longboat floating in Panama's pristine warm waters

Yacht Experiences

Panama: from the Caribbean to the Pacific

Panama is a fantastic destination for a yachting adventure. From the modern skyscrapers of its cities to the indigenous peoples found deep in its biodiverse forests, a visit to this central American country offers as much variety of experience as you’ll find marine life inhabiting the reefs of its untouched archipelagos.  

When to go:
January – April

SAN BLAS & EMBERA TRIBE

You’ll arrive in Panama City and transfer to your waiting yacht in Colon, across the country. Your first day will involve you discovering the secrets of the San Blas Archipelago—a group of 378 most uninhabited islands spread over 100 square miles.

Employing your yacht’s toys and tenders, and alongside expert guides, see the tropical fish and starfish in the turquoise shallows; dine on a beach barbecue of freshly caught lobster and fish cooked to perfection by your chef; and, if you’re feeling adventurous, sleep on a deserted island under the stars.   

The next day, you’ll return to the mainland and switch from superyacht to dugout canoe for a  foray up the untamed Gatun River. As you drift into the river’s verdant heart, you’ll arrive at the Embera Quera, home of the indigenous Embera tribe. You’ll receive a welcome at the pier from the tribe before immersion in their way of life, with a history and cultural picture of the tribe provided by the village chiefs.

Your cultural exploration also includes a traditional lunch of fish and plantains while with the Embera, as well as participating in a traditional dance. You’ll be painted in fruit-based ink with a traditional tattoo and you might consider contributing to their future by purchasing some of their handicrafts.

SOBERENIA & PANAMA CITY

With a naturalist guide, head next to Gamboa and walk the renowned pipeline road into Soberenia National Park. This 55,000-acre sanctuary is home to an astounding 525 species of bird. While following winding trails through the verdant bush, watch the canopy for toucans, snail kites, grebes, and much more. Meanwhile, you’ll also see crocodiles, anteaters, sloths, and a gorgeous array of butterflies. Above the lake, you’ll reach a viewing platform that you will deliver sweeping views over the surrounding jungle, a superb place from which to spot aquatic birds.  

Get closer to these by taking a dugout or boat onto the lake before arriving at Barro Colorado Island—a protected island since 1923 and home to monkeys, sloths, and iguanas.

Return to your yacht and follow the famed Panama Canal until you drop anchor by Panama City. Explore the city’s melting pot of cultures and discover its gorgeous coastline. Or delve into the traditions and history of Casco, the charming, carefully restored old Spanish quarter. Discover how piracy and colonialism have etched themselves into the city’s history, and wander the ruins learning how privateer Henry Morgan sacked Panama Viejo.    

Come evening, and jazz wafts from every bar in the old quarter. You’ll find the best of it at Danilo’s Jazz Club where you’ll drink, eat, and dance late into the night before returning to your vessel for the night.

Humpback Whale Breaching in Panama PAnama San Blas Islands and Beach Palm Trees
Panama San Blas Islands Surfing in Panama

CONSERVATION IN CERRO HOYA

You’ll cruise overnight and awake in Cerro Hoya. Traveling into the verdant cloud forest, you’ll join up with the Panama Wildlife Conservation Group and help prevent the poaching of animals such as the white-lipped peccary that have become almost extinct in Panama. In the morning, you’ll help set up a camera trap that will relay information to the initiative as well as gather information to be used in schools. You’ll also be able to monitor your camera traps for up to five years after you return home.

Lunch is a paradise picnic in a beautiful clearing in the rainforest before you return to your yacht for an afternoon in or by the water. Spearfish or surf in the glassy waves, or just relax on deck.

The next day, discover the rainforest at the mountain’s base by kayaking upriver from the bay. See otters and kingfishers as you swim, wade or paddle as you make your way to the gradually increasing thunder of waterfalls.

In the evening, you’ll join an expert Pelorus guide on shore to help restore the sea turtle population, specifically by observing nesting sites for endangered leatherback turtles. You’ll tag nesting mothers, and maybe see some newly hatched baby turtles making their way into the sea, before returning onboard for a midnight feast.

COIBA ISLAND & BIRDS

Your next destination Coiba Island is a natural oasis of great scientific interest. One of the wildest places in Central America, you’ll reach the windward side of the island by tender. Accompanied by a Pelorus naturalist, you’ll see the rocky cliffs home to frigate birds, brown pelicans, neotropical cormorants, and more.

Picnic in the tender as you drift past lazing crocodiles and the almond trees cacophonous with the only significant population of the nationally endangered scarlet macaws. You’ll assist in local conservation efforts by monitoring and recording this iconic bird.

In the afternoon, discover Coiba’s interior by 4×4, making your way to the abandoned Coiba prison. Previously housing over 3000 inmates, it now is entirely claimed by nature and houses everything from howler monkeys to agouti.

The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast on your yacht, embark on a fishing adventure. Your guides will take you to Isla Montuousa and the legendary Hannibal Bank where you’ll fish the marlin and tuna-rich seas. Afterward, return to your vessel and cruise to Islas Secas.

ISLAS SECAS & SUBMERSIBLE

Awake in the marine national park of Islas Secas and, with Pelorus guides, scour the Gulf of Chiriqui for populations of humpback whales. Once you’ve seen them breaching and tail lobbing, set a course back to Islas Secas and take to the water in flippers and snorkel to see the teeming sea life beneath the surface and eagle rays, parrot fish, and endangered turtles swimming around the archipelago’s reefs. You’ll return to your yacht for dinner surrounded by this natural haven.

Following a relaxed breakfast, join a Pelorus dive guide on a dive suited to your level of experience and training. From offshore pinnacles to calm inshore reefs, the national park’s options are incredible. Or choose to go beneath the surface in a submersible for an extraordinary experience, passing close to whales sharks, turtles, and more.

Come afternoon, head out in a tender to observe a vast colony of Frigates diving and wheeling in the sea breeze. After you’ve marveled at them catching their prey mid-flight, you’ll travel to Isla Cavada where you’ll explore this verdant island through its winding trails. Take a nature walk through this biodiverse island before returning to your yacht for dinner ahead of a transfer to Panama City and a flight home.