Panama Weather and Seasons– When to Visit
The beautiful Central American country of Panama, on the border with Colombia and Costa Rica has some of the most spectacular bright blue seas, authentic coffee farms, and stunning untouched rainforests in the world. Its tropical climate means it has two seasons – rainy and dry – although these can often be misleading, and Panama actually has the perfect climate for visiting all year round.
Home to the famous Panama Canal in the country's exciting capital city Panama City, the country boasts two beautiful coastlines – the wild waves of the monster Pacific Ocean and the calm chilled out waters of the Caribbean Sea. Despite being a relatively small nation, Panama has a number of microclimates and depending where you are in the country your trip can be enhanced by Panama's weather.
Weather in Panama
Just eight degrees above the equator, the weather in Panama is mostly hot and humid. Its tropical climate supports the country's wide variety of plants, forests, woodland and grasslands. Deforestation is an ongoing threat to to rain-soaked woodlands, although the country is still 40% of woodland. Temperatures in Panama City reach a maximum of 86 °F or 30 °C and an average of around 60-70 °F or 16-21 °C. On the Pacific side of Panama temperatures are usually much lower than those on the Caribbean side, where a cool breeze often reduces the climate. In higher parts of Panama the weather is generally much cooler, and western Panama has even seen frost.
Seasons in Panama
The Dry Season: December - April
Starting in December and usually lasting until mid-March, the dry season in Panama usually doesn't necessarily mean no rainfall, it actually means some rainfall, but mostly dry. The dry season is the most popular time to travel to Panama, although this isn't just down to the lack of rainfall. The dry season is also the time of year when snow bird Americans and Europeans look to escape to the warm climate, and plenty of Panama's other unique wildlife roam in their natural habitat during this time.
The Wet Season: May-November
Also known as the “green season”, the wet season is the time of year when Panama sees the most rain, and believe it not the wet season is also a great time to visit the country. Not only is the rainforest a spectacular green this time of year because of the excessive rainfall, but the rain never lasts for more than an hour and quickly evaporates, as if it had never rained at all. You can pop into a local restaurant or hide under a shelter for an hour and it will be as if it had never happened. Water can be higher and flooding can occur during this season, which opens Panama up to plenty of water-based activities.
Regional Climates in Panama
Panama has two coasts. A Caribbean sea coastline, with regions like Colon, Bocas del Toro and San Blas making up the region, and the Pacific coast. In the Caribbean region of Panama the two seasons do not necessary apply all the time, and you can expect a fair amount of rainfall pretty much all year round. Panama's highlands, such as Boquete, Chirqui, and el Valle de Anton, also get a lot more rain in the dry season than the rest of Panama.
Unlike the rest of Central America, Panama is far enough south that hurricanes are never a worry, despite the country's proximity to the hurricane belt. Panama has only ever had one hurricane, named Martha in 1969 and has been lucky enough never to see another bout of extreme weather.
Panama's seasons can also dictate when you can do certain activities in the country. For example, if you want to go white-water rafting then it is best to travel between May and December, when the rivers are high, or if you are keen to scuba dive or snorkel, then traveling to Panama is advised in the dry season between December and April when visibility in the water isn't interrupted by rain. Surfing on the Caribbean side is best between the months of December and March, and the same goes for the Pacific side.