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Panama is rich with varied activities for all types of travelers, from spectacular beaches and wildlife to historical sites and lively nightlife. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the five best things to see and do in this Latin American country:
1. Feel the fish. Head to Starfish Beach, located on the Bocas del Toro archipelago on the Caribbean coast of western Panama. Here you can both observe and walk among the ocean’s starfish.
2. Watch the whales. Boating tours are popular in and around Panama’s many beach islands — hop on board and go whale watching. The season runs from June through mid-October and December through February.
3. Catch some tunes. In Panama City’s historic center, you’ll find Bar Platea, a fun joint with live bands playing jazz, salsa or rock several nights a week. While you’re in the neighborhood, take time to meander through the streets to see the Colonial buildings.
4. Visit a golden altar. Located in Casco Viejo, the historic district of Panama City, the Church of San Jose is famous for its enormous, draw-dropping golden altar (made from carved wood and covered in gold flake).
5. View the locks. What would a visit to Panama be without catching a glimpse of the famous canal? Head to the Miraflores Locks (about 10 miles west of the Panama City center) in the afternoon for a chance to see a ship shimmy it’s way through the locks.