In addition to shoulder-season pricing and lessened crowds, low season travel to Panama offers a natural phenomenon that can only be witnessed from August to October each year – humpback whale sightings.
Panama’s uninhabited Pacific islands support a healthy oceanic ecosystem that welcomes the humpbacks each year, as well as a luxurious respite for adventurous travelers.
The whales travel much further than most travelers to visit the warm sub-tropical waters, undertaking an annual 4,000-mile migration from the icy waters of both the north and south hemispheres — Panama is one of the only places in the world to witness humpbacks from both hemispheres.
Savvy travelers know to travel in September — a little-known window of opportunity for travel to Panama where flight prices tend to be at their annual lows, resorts offer lower pricing, and tour operators feel confident guaranteeing humpback whale sightings. The whales come to Panama to give birth; after they arrive sometime in July or August, sightings are guaranteed until the newborns are strong enough to migrate again, right around the time that seasonal rains subside in November.
Skip the crowded tours just outside of Panama City, where you’re likely to see as many tour boats as humpbacks, and instead head to the Gulf of Chiriqui, where whales can be spotted just 20 minutes from the port of Boca Chica. Stay at one of the boutique resorts in the little-known archipelago for the chance to spot howler monkeys, giant iguanas, anteaters, jungle cats and many species of tropical birds.
Drawn by the area’s biodiversity and unspoiled tropical beauty, Benjamin Loomis, Founder and President of Amble Resorts, chose the Gulf of Chiriqui for his premier sustainable eco-resort, quickly gaining repute as the best resort in Panama. Among whale watching tours the boutique hotel offers over 20 small-group adventure tours including hiking, kayaking, tree-climbing and island hopping with their staff of local guides.
“September is the best time to spot whales in the Gulf of Chiriqui – we guarantee sightings on all of our island-hopping tours. It’s an amazing experience that guests remember forever, and reason enough to travel to Panama in the fall months,” says Loomis.
Panama is a first choice for whale watching in an undisturbed oceanic wilderness. Aside from humpbacks, the waters are home to over 30 species of cetaceans, and it is also common to spot spinner and bottlenose dolphins, manta rays, and sea turtles.
Reflecting on the experience, Loomis concludes, “The whales are so close that sometimes we can see them from the deck of the resort – there are not many places in the world where humpbacks are in your figurative backyard, and yet there’s not another soul in site. It is a privilege.”
Book a package at the Resort at Isla Palenque during the 2013 Green Season for a 25% discount. Meals and tours are included in the package price, and the resort guarantees a whale sighting or you will be refunded the price of the tour.
About The Resort at Isla Palenque
The Resort at Isla Palenque is a sustainable resort and residence development located on a private island in the Gulf of Chiriqui, Panama. The resort’s boutique hotel welcomed its first guests February 2013 to experience a luxurious escape amid the wild jungles and pristine beaches of Isla Palenque.