Few countries in the world possess the eclectic mix of cultures, cuisines and weather that tropical Panama offers. The Central American country, home to the man-made marvel, Panama Canal, might receive a cursory glance by naïve tourists, retirees and businesspeople, but a little digging reveals there is a lot more going on. Panama can be described as the perfect home that comes closest to the place you want to retire to, buy vacation property, or start a business. On offer are a multi-faceted climate and a rich tapestry of African, Native and European culture.
Panama in a snapshot
Panama appears as a thin strip of land, sandwiched by Costa Rica on the west and Colombia on the east. The quite ripples of Caribbean Sea lie on the north and the big waves of Bay of Panama to the south. This sea locked feature is accentuated by a spine of mountains and hills running across the country. Until the Panama Canal, this range is known as the Cordillera Central. A third of the population is found in the urbanized region between Colon and Panama City.
The tropical climate of Panama brings forth rich forest and plant life, and the terrain is dotted with grasslands, crops and scrubs. Forests proudly occupy almost 40 percent of the geography. The wealth of natural features gives Panama the allure that attracts tourists from all over the world, be it the blue Caribbean coastline, coffee estates or the mystery of wild rainforests.
Perhaps the biggest plus point of living in Panama is that is it geographically immune to hurricane and tornados (though ‘Martha’ did take a devious turn in the past, but it’s a rarity). The stable, inviting habitat of Panama is where one can live peacefully and connected to a rich cultural heritage marked by dances, festivals and numerous other events. This makes Panama ideal for real estate owners and a long term stay.
Tropical, maritime conditions prevail across Panama, making it unsurprisingly hot and humid. But this is a vast generalization if one sets foot on the ground, as the following will reveal. There are two major seasons, a short dry season (January-April) and wet and rainy (May-December). The narrow size of the country and the presence of seas and a hilly spine give Panama the ultimate mix of micro-climates that are cherished by all ex-pats and visitors.
It’s the dry season that attracts tourists aplenty from the US and Europe, with warm temperatures and a peek into wildlife in natural habitats. The wet season (also called ‘green’ season), brings most of the rains, making the forests come alive. Rainfall however is not prolonged, never more than an hour, and water tends to quickly evaporate. This is the time to enjoy outdoor, water based activities.
The Caribbean cost however does not comply with the dry-wet differentiation. Regions like Colon, Bocas del Toro, and San Blas are wet across the year. But hilly regions such as Boquete, Chiriquí and El Valle de Anton offer the dry-wet advantage. If one travels to extreme north and south, there are no dry spells. For those who wish to stay dry, the area around Panama City is known as Arco Seco (dry arc).
Temperatures in Panama over around 20 degrees Celsius with not market variation, and rarely exceed 24 degrees. The coolest months are October and November, followed by hot March and April. The hill regions are obviously cooler, with a temperature range of 10-19 degrees. One can always proceed to tierras templadas (“temperate lands”) to experience a mild weather.
An equatorial climate is also present in Panama in the form of rainforests and cloud forests, sans the dryness, on the borders of Costa Rica. The north of the Cordillera de Talamanca range hosts the Amistad International Park, and rainforests are located in the Darién Province as well near Colombia.
If the highlands offer escape from hot and misty weather, the low lying areas towards the Pacific sea offer less humidity and winds.
Sea and sunshine
To be fair, one shouldn’t expect plenty of sunshine in Panama, though the dry season brings the bright sun out. The wet season too isn’t always cloudy, and one can see the sun on the coasts and the plains for a few hours a day. The eastern parts near Colombia tend to be more cloudy, as well as the inside mountainous regions. It’s the pleasure of soaking in the Caribbean Sea that makes all the difference though, with water temperatures ranging from 27-29 degrees Celsius on both the costs.
Feeling great in Panama
The foregoing is just a glimpse into the many good things one can find in Panama when it comes to long term stays. There is yet another good reason to be here. The non-extremes of climate keep the skin well moisturized, and the rains keep pollution levels low, allowing everyone to breathe fresh and invigorating air. The multi-faceted weather also makes several sporting and entertainment activities more enjoyable and these include bird watching, photography, hiking, golf, surging and whitewater rafting, apart from local events and festivals.