Panama can hold its own against adventure-travel heavyweights like Costa Rica, giving you the opportunity to pack a lot of active and adrenaline-fueled excursions into a single week. This is simply an outline, which you should tailor to your interests: Sport fishermen will need to either plan a trip around fishing, or head out for the day from Boca Chica, near David, or from Isla Contadora. If mountain biking is your priority, substitute that for hiking.
Day 1: Arrive in Panama City
Arrive and get settled in Panama City. If your flight arrives early enough, head to the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal, tour the museum, and have lunch here while watching massive tankers pass through the locks. In the late afternoon, tour and photograph the picturesque streets of Casco Viejo, planning your stroll late enough so that you end at Manolo Caracol for an adventurous, gourmet meal.
Day 2: Rumble in the Jungle
Join an adrenaline-charged trip deep into the rainforest of Chagres National Park with Adventures in Panama. The trip kicks off with a ride in a dugout canoe followed by trekking along narrow trails through wild jungle, rappelling a rock face, and taking a cool dip in a creek. Finish with a hot lunch at an Emberá Indian village before heading home. At night, check out live jazz music at Bar Platea.
Day 3: Get Wet & Wild
Grab an early-morning flight from Panama City to David, where Chiriquí River Rafting can pick you up on their way to the put-in site at the Chiriquí Viejo River; here you'll raft wild Class III to Class V white-water rapids. Afterward, sit back and enjoy the scenery on the ride back to Boquete, where you'll settle into your hotel and later get out and stroll around town.
Day 4: Explore Volcán Barú
Go climb or 4WD to the top of Volcán Barú, the highest peak in Panama, for electrifying views spanning from the Caribbean to the Pacific. It's a gung-ho, rocky, slippery trip that must be planned with a guide or a driver on tours that leave at sunrise or earlier. Or walk the Quetzal Trail through emerald rainforest, trekking uphill from Boquete or downhill from Cerro Punta. See if you can spot a quetzal. Book a massage at the Panamonte Inn & Spa in the late afternoon to recover from your day of adventure.
Day 5: Canopy Tour & Biking
Contact Boquete Tree Trek to plan a thrilling canopy zip-line ride through the rainforest. Arrive early to witness the region's bounty of birds when they are most active. In the afternoon, join the company for a mountain-bike tour and downhill ride through the highlands of Boquete; or rent a bike and head out on your own, exploring backcountry roads.
Day 6: Explore the Underwater World
Wake up early and drive a little over an hour to the Pacific Coast and Boca Chica, where you'll set off with Exploration Panama for a scuba-diving, snorkeling, or sport-fishing adventure around the idyllic waters and rocky outcrops of the Chiriquí Gulf National Marine Park. Have lunch on a deserted island ringed with white sand and turquoise water.
Day 7: Take a Break & Head Home
Book a flight from David to Panama City for your flight home, but remember that you'll need extra time to travel from Albrook to Tocumen Airport. If you can, squeeze in a low-key visit to Kotowa coffee farms to see how coffee is produced and head home with a few bags of some of Panama's best beans.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.