Known for its famous canal, there is so much more to Panama. See the San Blas islands, hike in Boquete and surf in the Pacific

New, old and ancient Panama

I was drawn to Panama because I found the Panama Canal fascinating and wanted to see it for myself. I arrived in a country that had a raw beauty to it, with historic buildings tucked away in corners and others hiding in plain sight. Gleaming glass and steel towers and busy streets reminiscent of any city in the USA contrast with the carefree, easy-going feel of the San Blas islands, where the only thing you see a lot of is sand, sea and coconut trees.

I loved Panama! I relished its contradictions. The Old Town (Casco Viejo) with its rooftop bars and bouncing nightlife was nothing like the ruins of Panama Viejo (ancient Panama) and its sunset walk through history. I cherished its nature. Its hikes and waterfalls around Santa Fe and Boquete and learning how to surf in Santa Catalina. And the Panama Canal? It was all I expected and more! Perhaps the best birthday present I could have.

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