• Visit Our Family
    of Travel Leaders
Cruise Costa Rica and Panama

Costa Rica to Panama Voyage

Nature & Wildlife
Small Ship Cruises
Solo Travel
Cruise Costa Rica and Panama

You are here

Costa Rica to Panama Voyage

Delight in Panama and Costa Rica’s natural treasures by exploring remote, protected parks and landscapes of the rich Pacific Coast in search of spectacular biodiversity and vibrant birdlife. From Panama’s remote Darien Province, which is practically inaccessible other than by air or ship, to the stunning Pearl Islands, International Expeditions’ guests explore incredible destinations that are outstanding for nature and wildlife. Plus, your small-group explores in comfort both by land and by small ship aboard a gracious yacht.

Daily Itinerary

Costa Rica to Panama Voyage

  • Day
    1

    Arrive San José, Costa Rica

    Fly independently to San José, where we meet our guide and transfer to our hotel. (Meals Aloft)

  • Day
    2

    San José / Embark

    After a relaxing morning in San José, embark your ship and cruise toward Quepos. 

  • Day
    3

    Manuel Antonio Reserve

    Our Costa Rica cruise starts with an incredible morning in Manuel Antonio Reserve. This fragile rainforest ecosystem boasts an array of wildlife. Watch for the park’s easy-to-spot monkeys, including red-backed squirrel, white-faced capuchin, spider and mantled howler monkeys. Hike with local naturalists along rainforest trails. Cool off while swimming from the reserve’s white-sand beaches before returning to the ship. After lunch, explore the forest canopy. Rejoin your ship in Playa Biesanz. Enjoy dinner onboard while cruising toward the Osa Peninsula. (B,L,D) 

    Cruise Costa Rica and Panama
  • Day
    4

    Osa Peninsula / Casa Orquideas

    Enjoy a morning exploring the Osa Peninsula, named one of the “most biologically intense places on Earth” by National Geographic. Hike through secondary forest, spotting endemic plant species along with scarlet macaws, toucans, parrots, coatis, agoutis, collared peccaries, tyras and even tapirs along the way. Cruise across Golfo Dulce towards Casa Orquideas, an exquisite flower sanctuary. The beautifully landscaped private tropical garden showcases hundreds of species of ornamental and edible tropical plants. Meander through the gardens seeing beautiful and interesting plants and flowers, which are a magnet for dozens of different kinds of birds, butterflies, insects and other wildlife. Cap-off our day with time to swim from the nearby beach before cruising to Panama. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    5

    Restingue Island / Cebaco Island, Panama

    Spend a morning in paradise as you swim and snorkel off the waters of tiny Restingue Island, nestled between nationally protected marine areas! Tuna and wahoo are common, while Humpback and sperm whales migrate through the area and four species of turtles, giant manta rays and dolphins can be spotted just offshore. Indulge in a beach barbecue at nearby Cebaco Island with time to relax and enjoy the white sands and sapphire waters. Early this afternoon, cruise toward the Darien. (B,L,D)

    Cruise Costa Rica and Panama
  • Day
    6

    Darien National Park

    Board local boats heading into the mangroves and estuaries of Panama’s remote Darien. In the mangroves, watch for roseate spoonbill, Amazon kingfisher, white ibis and heron. Journey up river through red, black and button mangroves to an Emberá community on the Mogue River. The unique Emberá people still live much as they did when the Spanish first arrived in the 1500s. During our visit we’ll be immersed in this rich culture through dance and music. Enjoy demonstrations of traditional wood carving and learn about how they use medicinal plants. Emberá women are known as some of the world’s finest basket makers, and we observe as they create beautiful baskets from local palm leaves and natural dyes. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    7

    Pearl Islands / Panama City

    Spend a morning swimming and snorkeling in the wildlife rich waters off of the Pearl Islands, named by the Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa in honor of the bountiful pearls that were harvested off the islands’ shores. The islands boast white-sand beaches and untouched forests. Explore the coral reefs just offshore, home to white-tipped reef sharks, sea turtles, manta rays and moray eels. After a beach barbecue, sail toward Panama City. Spend our evening touring Old Panama — Casco Viejo — before dinner at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    8

    Gatun Lake / Fort San Lorenzo

    Enjoy boating across Gatun Lake — part of the Panama Canal. Along the way, watch for commonly spotted green iguana, three-toed sloth, American crocodile, snail kite and osprey on the hunt for peacock bass. Explore Fort San Lorenzo, a stone fortress that overlooks the mouth of the Chagres River. The face of Fort San Lorenzo has undergone many changes since it was first built by the Spanish in the late 16th century. First captured then razed by pirates, including the infamous Henry Morgan, the fort was rebuilt in its current location on higher ground. Savor lunch overlooking the newly expanded Canal from the park-like setting of the Panama Canal Expansion Observation Center. Return to Panama City and visit the Canal Museum, watching ships in the locks. (B,L,D). 

    Cruise Costa Rica and Panama
  • Day
    9

    Soberania National Park

    After disembarking, head to Soberanía National Park. Pipeline Road is where the Audubon Society held its world Christmas bird count record for 19 years straight, with 357 species of birds identified in a period of 24 hours. The now-abandoned road built in World War II to transport fuel from one ocean to the other to maintain the pipeline provides excellent walking access to Soberanía's tropical rainforest. The park boasts an impressive list of over 530 species of birds including the black hawk-eagle, black-cheeked woodpecker, black-breasted puffbird, broad-billed motmot, blue cotinga, purple-throated fruitcrow, masked tytira, violaceous trogon, fasciated antshrike, shining honeycreeper and a great array of North American migrants. Soberania is also home to 105 species of mammals including large felines, tamandua, two and three-toed sloth, four species of monkeys, agouti and 59 endemic plant species in four life zones. Visit the Rainforest Discovery Center, where you enjoy spectacular views of Soberania and spot canopy bird species from the 100-foot observation tower. Standing above the canopy, witness the morning flight of keel-billed toucans, red-lored Amazons and the silent movement of mantled howler monkeys. Continue exploring the network of trails surrounding the Discovery Center and enjoy the hummingbird feeders. (B,L,D)

    Cruise Costa Rica and Panama
  • Day
    10

    Depart Panama City

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your independent flight home. (B)

February 2019 Panama to Costa Rica

  • Day
    1

    Arrive Panama City

    Fly to Panama City and spend tonight at Gamboa Rainforest Lodge.

  • Day
    2

    Soberanía National Park & Gatun Lake / Embark

    Meet your naturalist guide and fellow birders over coffee, pastries and fruit before heading to Soberanía National Park. The park boasts an impressive list of over 530 species of birds, as well as 105 species of mammals including large felines, tamandua, two and three-toed sloth, four species of monkeys, agouti and 59 endemic plant species in four life zones. The rest of our group meets for an excursion to the Rainforest Discovery Center, where you climb a 100-foot canopy observation tower. Continue exploring the network of trails surrounding the Discovery Center and enjoy the hummingbird feeders that provide up close views of 10 species of hummingbirds! Enjoy boating across Gatun Lake — part of the Panama Canal. After lunch overlooking an operating Panama Canal lock, visit the exhibit hall and see a presentation by the Panama Canal Authority. Later, visit the Biodiversity Museum, which is a Smithsonian affiliate museum and serves as a gateway to information about the isthmus’ natural history. Embark your ship and begin sailing to the Darién. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    3

    Darién National Park

    Local boats take us from the ship to explore some of the mangroves and estuaries of this part of Panama’s remote Darien region, which borders Colombia and is Central America’s largest protected nature area. Cruising through the mangroves, watch for a variety of birdlife. Head up the Mogue River for an afternoon with the Embera people. The unique Emberá people still live much as they did when the Spanish first arrived in the 1500s. During our visit we’ll be immersed in this rich culture through dance and music. Enjoy demonstrations of traditional wood carving and learn about how they use medicinal plants. Emberá women are known as some of the world’s finest basket makers, and we observe as they create beautiful baskets from local palm leaves and natural dyes. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    4

    Punto Patiño Nature Reserve

    Punta Patino Nature Reserve contains species-rich primary and secondary forest, and is one of the best places in Panama to spot harpy eagles. On naturalist-guided hikes, observe blue-footed boobies in a nearby rookery along with mangroves where birds, marine life and other wildlife make their home. Also explore estuaries and shorelines from our small boats. Spend our afternoon strolling trails within the reserve. Later, cruise toward Isla de Coiba. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    5

    Sailing to Isla de Coiba

    Savor a relaxing day with fascinating lectures as we sail across the Gulf of Panama and arrive at Isla de Coiba. Our first call is the Coiba National Park Ranger Station, where a naturalist-guided nature walk introduces you to the islands before a festive beach barbecue. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    6

    Coiba National Park

    Swim and snorkel among an amazing world of coral and fish life directly from the beach. Walk along Los Monos Trail through sections of virgin primary forest, where bi-colored hawk, white-throated thrush, lance-tailed manakin and endemic brown-backed dove are found. Head toward the central station of the old penal colony, where you are free to roam the installations of the once notorious prison. Discover a wide array of flora and fauna along the Hot Springs Trail — flanked by primary rainforest and mangroves. The main attraction here is the endemic Coiba spinetail, more often observed here than anywhere else on the island. Watch for both howler and white-faced monkeys en route to soak in hot springs. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    7

    Golfito, Costa Rica / Piedras Blancas National Park

    Sail to one of Costa Rica’s newest national parks, the stunning Piedras Blancas. Hike along the trails through lush forest looking for howler monkey, white-nose capuchin, coatis, toucans and scarlet macaws. Considered by many to be one of the best bird watching parks in the country, Piedras Blancas is an important gathering point for many birds from North and South America. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    8

    Drake Bay / Terraba-Sierpe Reserve / Isla del Caño Biological Reserve

    Discovered by Sir Francis Drake during his travels around the world in the 16th century, Drake Bay packs natural beauty that has stood the test of time. Explore Central America’s largest protected mangrove area. Your boating excursion ventures into countless channels among the mangroves crisscrossing this vitally important Terraba-Sierpe National Humid Forest Reserve. Expect to encounter caiman, American crocodile, primates, river turtle and coatis. Birders may delight in sightings of yellow mangrove warbler, common potoo and frigatebird. The vibrant blue waters and reefs of Caño Island Biological Marine Reserve play host to a huge variety of fish, whales and sharks. While snorkeling and swimming, watch for sea turtles, dolphins, rays and barracuda. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    9

    Disembark / Puerto Caldera / Carara National Park

    Disembark our ship and travel to the biologically diverse Carara National Park, home to 200 pairs of nesting scarlet macaws. Spend an afternoon boating along the Río Tárcoles, watching for birdlife, mantled howler monkeys, Hoffmann's two-toed sloths and brown-throated three-toed sloths, and endangered American crocodiles. Our home for two nights is Villa Lapas. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    10

    Carara National Park

    Spend a full day hiking and birding in the forests of Carara, watching for trogons, toucans and white-faced capuchin monkeys. Those who don’t want to spend the full day in the reserve can enjoy a guided walk along the five suspended bridges, ascending more than 180 feet into the rainforest canopy, or simply relax by the pool while savoring the lush nature surrounding Villa Lapas. Everyone comes back together this evening for a festive farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    11

    Depart San Jose

    Travel to San Jose for your independent flight home. (B)

Things to Know

What is included in the price of IE's Costa Rica to Panama expedition cruise?

The cost of your journey includes:

  • Guided tours & lectures by native naturalists
  • Services of experienced expedition leaders
  • All meals on cruise
  • Wildlife excursions on land & by skiff
  • Full educational program with lectures & field interpretation
  • Local beer and wine with meals onboard 
  • Tips to porters & waiters for included meals
  • Pre- and post-cruise accommodations as outlined in the itienrary
  • Arrival & departure transfers

Are there any required or recommended vaccinations for travel to Panama and Costa Rica?

Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required only when arriving from a country where yellow fever is present. Yellow fever is not present in North America so guests arriving from the US or Canada do not have to show proof of vaccination. According to the CDC, yellow fever is not present in the areas of Panamaand Costa Rica you will visit on this itinerary so they do not recommend vaccination. No other vaccinations are required but guests should contact their physician to discuss health abroad and consult with the CDC at wwwn.cdc.gov/travel with regard to travelers’ health.

What visas are required for Costa Rica travel?

There are no visas required for U.S. or Canadian citizens to enter Costa Rica.

Accommodations

Variety Voyager exterior

Variety Voyager

The exclusively chartered, intimate MY Variety Voyager is a sleek yacht launched in 2012. Guests are accommodated in 36 stylishly appointed, ocean-view cabins. Meals featuring international cuisine are served alfresco or in single, unassigned seatings in the ship's inviting dining room, where passengers can enjoy unobstructed views of the passing scenery and coastline through floor-to-ceiling windows. Located on the Ocean’s Deck, the open Bar and Lounge offers stylish shaded seating and is the ideal spot for reading, relaxing or stargazing. Other public areas include a library, shaded outdoor dining area, sun deck, and a mini-spa and fitness area.

SEE THE VARIETY VOYAGER

Cuba Voyage ship Panorama

Panorama

International Expeditions has chartered an incredible yacht to ensure you experience the highest standard of comfort for our incredible expedition cruises. The Panorama three-masted motorsailer is sleek and spacious. While most of our time is spent strolling through colorful villages and exploring remote landscapes, while onboard Panorama, emphasis is placed on time outdoors. An aft Sun Deck equipped with loungers, cushy chairs and a bar is available. After briefings on history, culture and nature, enjoy the lounge, which features a small library and comfy sofas. Plus, you’re welcome on the open bridge to meet the captain and learn about navigation. Along the way, you’ll enjoy a sumptuous selection of cuisine sure to please any palette.

SEE THE PANORAMA

Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Gamboa Rainforest Resort

Located within Soberanía National Park along the shores of the Panama Canal, 166-room Gamboa Rainforest Resort features a variety of amenities that provide both educational and adventurous experiences, including a swimming pool, spa, plant nursery, orchid garden and butterfly exhibit. A rainforest aerial tram provides you with a bird’s-eye-view of wildlife in the canopy. All rooms are air-conditioned with private baths and hot showers. Rooms also feature free Wi-Fi, private balcony with hammock, mini-bar, coffee maker, and safe.

Field Leaders

Johnathan

Jonathan Sequeira

Master Naturalist

Jonathan first studied nature and social sciences at the Cartago Community College and the National University of Costa Rica. Later, he received his doctorate for work related to the analysis of medicinal plants of the rainforest from the International University for Complementary Medicine in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Jonathan was awarded the status of Master Naturalist Guide in 2004. He has also volunteered for the National Park Service - at the Guayabo Archaeological Monument and Chirripo and Carara National Parks - and worked at Garrison Refuge in New York for the Audubon Society.

Hernan Arauz

Hernán Araúz

Master Naturalist

Hernán Araúz from Panama is widely regarded as one of Latin America´s best naturalists. In fact, the author of Lonely Planet´s Guide to Panama names Hernán as one of three men with whom he would trust his life! Quick story I learned about Hernán: in 1996, when part of Panama´s Darién National Park was to be conceded for mining, President Perez Balladares was so impressed by the great jacamar Hernán called — beholding its glorious, glossy green upperparts and long, thick, black bill — that he cancelled mining plans and pledged to conserve Cana as a wilderness reserve. 

Panama Guide Richard Cahill

Richard Cahill

Expedition Leader

Richard was born in Panama City to American parents. He is a seasoned naturalist guide as well as an extraordinary Expedition Leader. Educated in Business Administration, he pioneered the development of organized ecotourism in Panama more than 15 years ago. His passion for learning, his attention to detail, his enthusiasm and his ability for sharing his vast knowledge on varied subjects of the natural sciences, history and culture, have led Richard to become one of Panama's top guides. With ample knowledge of the Panama Canal watershed gained by over 400 nature tours of the area, multiple ocean to ocean Trans Darien Expeditions and Camino Real Treks, he still finds time to scuba dive in the bountiful waters of Panama's Caribbean Sea and to search for splendid avian rarities in the cloud forests of Chiriquí. Richard's experience transcends his native land and he can be found guiding on trails in Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands.

From: $5,799 per person
Duration
10 Days, 9 Nights
Departs From
Panama City, Panama
Trip Type
Sea
Expedition Destinations

Special Offers

Trip Highlights

  • Travel by small-ship for seven nights, ensuring access to remote areas where regular tourists are generally unable to go.
  • Explore famed national parks, including Soberania, home to over 530 species of birds & 105 species of mammals, as well as the remote Darien, one of Central America's most ecologically diverse areas.
  • Swim & snorkel off beautiful beaches in the Pearl Islands & Restingue Island.
  • Discover the cultural traditions of the Emberá people.