Panama - Volunteer, Gap Year & Tours

Panama has long been a popular vacations destination especially for retired people choosing to migrate and live here. There are large modern cities, picturesque countryside, beautiful white sandy beaches, tasty food and an interesting history. With One World 365 you can be more than just a tourist and get the true authentic local experience by searching our gap year ideas, volunteer programs, surfing lessons and tours. Once in Panama you will be able to see ancient ruins, explore jungles, visit paradise islands, relax on some of the best beaches in the continent, see the impressive Panama Canal or do something for meaningful. Search our adventure travel, volunteer & eco holiday ideas for Panama today.

Panama Travel Guide

Panama Travel Guide

  • Capital - Panama City
  • Currency - Panamanian Balboa (PAB) + US Dollar (USD)
  • Population - 3,040,000 (approx)
  • International Dialing Code +507
  • Country Area - 78,200 km2
  • Language - Panama is a very mixed society with people from all around the world calling this country home, this is mainly due to the huge construction of the Panama canal with immigrants being brought from a number of countries. In modern day Panama there are over 20 languages spoken with Spanish being the most dominant. Other languages include native Indo-American, Chinese, French, English (in the tourisy areas) and even in some places Arabic. Although Spanish in the official language of Panama, Panamanian Spanish is slightly different in a variety of ways. We highly recommend either learning or buying a phrase book or joining a Spanish language course in Panama.


Map of Panama



Panama Tours

Tours in Panama

Panama is a fascinating and amazing country to visit, expect culture, history, tradition and lots of places to visit. We have lots of tours in Panama available to book throughout the year, if you are up for an adventure why not join an overland tours or biking trip travelling across the country On our directory you can find tour operators both local and international who offer tours throughout the year. Panama is a really up and coming destination with thousands of tourists visiting every year, if you are looking for something a little different there are also bird watching, scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing excursions. We highly recommend visiting the Panama canal or joining a boat cruise if you are looking for a relaxing way to see the country. The Panama Canal was finished by the US in the early 1900's this engineering master-class is over 70k long and connects the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. This is one of the Severn Wonders of the Modern World and thousands of ships pass through every year. You might also like to view our Costa Rica gap year trips for more options in this region.



Volunteer in Panama

Volunteer in Panama

If you want to do something a little different consider going to volunteer in Panama. There is a need for international assistance all year round and you can help improve living standards working directly with marginalized communities, this experience will allow you to discover this country learning more about yourself and the local people. Volunteering in Panama not only benefits you, but you will really be able to give back and make a difference. You can find short and long term rewarding volunteer projects in Panama including free and low cost opportunities where you can work with animals and communities.

Programs can be joined in places like Bocas del Toro, Panama City and more remote locations including Boquete, Cocle, Guna Yala and the San Blas Archipelago.  Panama City is the focal point of the country where most people work, this city drives the country but although Panama has seen huge growth economically over the years there have also been setbacks and some sections of the country suffer from poverty. You can join for a period of 1 week to over a year, this is the ultimate way of doing more than sightseeing and getting a real cultural immersion - volunteering in Central America is also really fun and a great way to mix sightseeing and also integrating into the local society. There are also combination programs available where you can volunteer and learn Spanish. 

Most local NGO's, non-profits and other organisations will require you to be aged 18+ but there are summer opportunities for 15 - 18 year olds. Group volunteer trips are popular and you will need to apply in advance to secure a place. You will also need to be eligible for a tourist visa and please note not everyone speaks English in Panama and it is recommend you learn basic Spanish to get the most out of the experience.  Some organiations charge a sign up fee to volunteer in Panama, on these placements you usually get a structured experience including:

  • Airport pick-up and transfer to project
  • All food and accommodation
  • Training materials and science equipment
  • Pre-departure support and services
  • Comprehensive training necessary for research techniques
  • 24-hour in-country support and a 24-hour emergency phone line



Types of Volunteer Programs in Panama


Community Volunteer Projects in Panama

Community Initiatives

Most volunteering programs centre around community development with rural communities in need of assistance. You could apply to help disadvantaged people, the elderly, handicapped people or volunteer at an orphanage. Daily activities can include working alongside local staff helping create a fun environment for children and leading fun activities like sports. One of the most meaningful experiences is working to preserve the Kuna Indian tribe. Education and teaching projects are very important, there are opportunities to help at schools improving literacy among young people.




Panama Conservation Projects

Conservation Projects

Panama is a very exotic destination and you can play a role in helping wildlife and the environment. You could join recycling programs and raise awareness within local communities or work rescuing and rehabilitating animals. No previous experience is needed to work with wildlife in Panama and full training will be provided when in country, you could be working as part of an outreach team going to remote areas finding and helping animals like stray cats and dogs. If you have any previous skills these will come in handy, daily tasks can include treating animals, cleaning enclosures and helping local vets.