Cruising The Canal: Why You Should Explore Both Costa Rica And Panama

Going on vacation can involve a slightly maddening mix of excitement and dread. While on the one hand, you’re counting down the days until your bag is packed; on the other, you’re wondering if you’ve truly made the right choice of destination for all the effort and planning you’ve put in. 

Whether you’re passionate about exploring the world that you live in and experiencing as many new places and cultures as you can or simply want to make the most of your one summer holiday a year, there’s a pressure tied to deciding where to holiday, and what to do while there.

This is why you should look to branch out with your vacations. Often, we can be strapped between one place and another without considering the fact that we can visit them both. Of course, this isn’t always feasible, but with some countries it is the ultimate option for the perfect vacation

Turning Your Vacation Into A Combo-Vacation

Take Costa Rica, for example. If you’re planning a month-long trip to this country (because, let’s be honest, why wouldn’t you?), then you can make the most out of this vacation by combining your travels with Panama. Lying just 353km apart, these countries are neighbours offering various landscapes and vacation activities. If you wanted, you could spend the first week of your trip in Costa Rica, take a lavish eight-day cruise down to Panama and finish up your travels in the beautiful Panama City. Twisting your trip to Costa Rica and combining it with Panama can not only give you a wonderful, unique canal cruise, but it can open your eyes to far more than just a single location can give you. 

So why, in this case, is going from Costa Rica to Panama better than visiting one? Well, Costa Rica and Panama are renowned as hotspot tourist destinations. With both of them offering gorgeous natural parks, outdoor activities, delicious cuisines and bustling nightlife, there doesn’t appear to be much of a difference as far as vacations are concerned. But delving a little deeper, you will find that key contrasts between both countries make them both a must-visit.

Costa Rica Beaches
Playa Minas, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Natural Beauty And Panama’s Vibrant City

Both Costa Rica and Panama have outstanding natural beauty. Their luscious green rainforests, volcanoes and waterfalls make for some of the most awestriking hikes you will ever take. That being said, they both have their fair share of tourist attractions when it comes to their natural landscape. What Panama has that Costa Rica doesn’t have is a plethora of manufactured tourist hotspots, such as their bustling city capital, Panama Canal, Casco Viejo and Old Panama. This can create a fascinating juxtaposition between both trips

While you can spend the entirety of your Costa Rica journey exploring the beautiful, unique landscapes, you can then switch things up and take the time to venture through Panama’s concrete jungle. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t take the time to witness Panama’s natural beauty too. There are still the San Blas islands and the cloud forests of Boquete that are a must-see for any backpacker. But with the entirety of your Costa Rican trip revolving around natural beauty, it can be a fun contrast to explore Panama’s equally beautiful city and culture.

The Night Tours Of Costa Rica And The Live Acts Of Panama

When it comes to nightlife, you can’t get a much more unique and intense experience than the night tours in Costa Rica. After taking the time to explore Costa Rica’s landscapes during the day, you can continue this exploration into the night, giving you a different outlook on the rainforests and jungles you thought you knew. Whether you choose the Monteverde rainforest walk, the Manuel Antonio jungle expedition or the turtle nesting tour, there are so many unrivalled activities to do in the mystical darkness of Costa Rica. 

Panama, on the other hand, can give you something a little more traditional. Take a wander down toward Club La Vela, and you can experience the largest and most famous nightclub in Panama City. No matter your style, Club La Vela is open and inclusive to everyone, letting you take pride in your best self and party your way into the early hours of the morning. However, if clubbing isn’t your scene, there are plenty of other entertainment venues. Places like Spinnakers on Panama beach can treat you to enriching live music and glorious sea-side food, giving you a chilled and musical backdrop as you watch the moon rise over the ocean waves. 

12 Perfect Days In Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Caribbean Influence And Panama’s Hangover Cure

Anyone returning from vacation is sure to be asked the staple question: “How was the food?”. For any foodies out there, partaking in a culture’s staple dishes is one of the most enjoyable parts of any vacation, and with Costa Rica and Panama, there are plenty of dishes on offer.

While San Jose cuisine can feel more influenced by Mexico and North American cuisine, if you venture to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, you will be met with plenty of Caribbean influences, such as Patis and Rondon, which are mouth-watering sea-food dishes with a unique spice and sweetness. On the other hand, Panama’s perfect ‘hangover-cure’ Sancocoh is a must-try after an enjoyable night out in the city. With an abundance of vegetables, chicken and culantro, your waffles-and-bacon hangover cure will pale in comparison to this healing signature broth. 

The Journey In-Between

Of course, one of the best things about experiencing both Panama and Costa Rica is the journey in-between both trips. If you are new to cruises, then a Panama canal cruise can be a unique one to start off with. It is unlike any other cruise in the world. You would have days of relaxation, cruising along one of the most popular and largest canals in the world. With ever-changing scenery and delicious food and drink at your fingertips, cruising the canal allows you to travel in style while also experiencing a part of the world you would never have thought to visit. The canal is a historic waterway with beautiful infrastructure and engineering marvels. As well as this, it can offer beautiful, natural scenes, such as the gorgeous red sunsets and the beautiful, swooping hills of both countries.

Travelling between both Costa Rica and Panama can give you that time to sit back, relax and watch an entire world pass you by day to day, with the opportunity to properly soak it in and experience every inch of your once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

John Shallo
John Shallo
John Shallo is the founder and editor of Cruise Addicts. Since 1999 it has been a leading destination for cruise travelers and self professed Cruise Addicts looking for the latest news, ship reviews and travel tips.

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