Take In Central American Culture At This Underrated Beach Vacation Spot

Central America has certainly seen an influx of tourism over the last few years. Whether it's the yellow streets of Antigua, Guatemala, or the bright blue waters of Belize that have flooded our Instagram feeds, Central America is simply an itch that needs to be scratched for many curious travelers. There's one destination in this region that seems to continue to fly under the radar despite being a generally common hub between North and South America.

Panama is the southernmost country in Central America and offers some of the most diverse landscapes and culturally enriching experiences in the region. Best of all, it can easily be explored on a long layover with Copa Airlines' stopover program, which allows travelers to spend up to seven days in Panama while en route from their origin-destination to their final destination. If you've ever been curious about visiting one of the most underrated tropical destinations in Central America, it's time to start planning your getaway to Panama.

An under-the-radar beach destination

While many might immediately think of the Panama Canal when it comes to Panama, the country offers so much more than just that. Panama specifically makes a great beach destination. While there are beaches near Panama City, if you want a real taste of the vibrant waters and relaxing tropical atmosphere, get out to Bocas del Toro.

Bocas del Toro has some of the prospects that draw so many travelers to nearby Costa Rica. Its lush flora and fauna provide a green, rainforest setting for travelers to truly feel like they're away from it all. However, unlike Costa Rica, you won't have to be deep in the country to experience the immense biodiversity; instead, you can enjoy the rainforest right on the Caribbean Sea. 

Bocas del Toro has a thriving coral reef system and some of the clearest water in the region. There are even over-the-water bungalows at hotels such as Bocas Villas and Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge, making Bocas del Toro an excellent honeymoon destination or simply just an excuse to treat yourself (Hey, you deserve it).

City, beach, or rainforest: Panama has it all

Far beyond beaches, Panama is a country that quite literally has it all. The capital, Panama City, is where most international flights will lead you, and you don't want to skip out on some of the city's deep cultural significance. Head to Casco Viejo to explore the colorful streets and grab a bite of local dishes like sancocho or guacho.

Costa Rica might be known as the main hub for seeing sloths in Central America, but Panama is not to be overlooked. More than 60% of the country is covered in rainforest, so it's not entirely unusual to see sloths. However, your best bet at sighting one of these slow and steady creatures is at the dedicated Sloth Sanctuary of Gamboa.

If you're strictly here for the beaches and don't have time to make it out to Bocas del Toro, don't worry. There are plenty of fantastic choices right near Panama City. Head to Veracruz Beach, only about 30 minutes away, for one of the best nearby options. If you want to check out a Panamanian island, go for Taboga Island, also known as the island of flowers.