Some of my most savvy, well-traveled pals count Panama as their prime pastime paradise, and can effortlessly tick off the reasons why:
Getting there is a breeze. The weather is a heavenly 82–90 degrees: year round. Their currency, the U.S. dollar, stretches like Spandex. (A local taxi will chauffeur you around the capital for less than $5.) And though Spanish is Panama’s official language, English is ubiquitous. The nightlife is beyond cosmopolitan, and the people—a diverse mix of Caribbean-Spanish, African and indigenous cultures— are friendly and beautiful.
Rated the #1 Destination for 2012 by the The New York Times, Panama is virtually peerless in its charms. The country’s namesake capital and largest city is both a sultry metropolis with soaring skyscrapers and world-famous salsa clubs, as well as a hyperdiverse land of lush rain forests and ancient ruins. Neither overwrought nor overpriced, Panama maintains a pretty pluralism that any wanderluster would envy. Check out our list of can’t-miss offerings from a country that just may have it all.
*Getting There: Copa Airlines is the national carrier of Panama, operating nonstop flights in 29 countries in North, South, and Central America. Founded in 1947, Copa flies nonstop to Panama City (PTY) from major U.S. cities including Miami, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Las Vegas. copaair.com