In Panama, a Central American country located just north of the Equator, the climate is tropical, hot all year round.
The main difference is found in the rains, which are determined by the seasonal shift of the sun, which in turn determines the prevailing currents.
From May to November, the south-west currents predominate, which bring abundant rainfall especially on the southern side exposed to the Pacific Ocean; however, it rains on the north side as well, so this is the rainy season.
In contrast, from December to April, the northeastern trade winds prevail, which bring abundant rainfall on the north side overlooking the Caribbean Sea, especially in the first part (December-January), that is to say, when the sea is warmer, while on the south side, beyond the mountain ranges that stretch across the interior of the country as a backbone, this is the dry season.
The rains mostly occur in the form of heavy downpours or thunderstorms (called aguaceros), usually in the afternoon or evening, but they can continue even in the early hours of the night.
However, there are some variations from one year to the next, which make the weather quite unpredictable, especially on the north side, while on the southern side, the seasons are more defined.
Temperatures vary little throughout the year; however, the coolest months, or rather the least hot, are usually October and November, at the end of the rainy season, although the humidity during this period makes the heat unpleasant. The hottest months are usually March and April, before the rainy season.


In the north-west, the province of Bocas del Toro has an equatorial climate, ie with no dry season. Near the border with Costa Rica, the northern side of the mountain range called Cordillera de Talamanca, where the Amistad International Park is found, is occupied by a cloud forest.
In this zone (see Changuinola and the Bocas del Toro Archipelago), where about 2,500 millimeters (98 inches) of rain fall per year, there are two periods when there's a relative decline in rainfall: February-March and (a little less) September-October, while the wettest months are July, November and December.


Here is the average precipitation in Changuinola.
Changuinola - Average precipitation

As usually happens on the Caribbean side, the temperatures in Changuinola are not too high, even though the air is humid. Here are the average temperatures.
Changuinola - Average temperatures
Min (°C)222223232323232323232322
Max (°C)282929303029292929292828
Min (°F)727273737373737373737372
Max (°F)828484868684848484848282

In this zone, the period of the northeastern trade winds, though rainy, is quite sunny, especially from February to April, when the rains become a little less frequent. Here are the average sunshine hours per day.
Changuinola - Sunshine

Apart from to the northwest, there are other areas of Panama that have an equatorial climate: the northern slopes of the highest mountains, and, in the south-east, the interior of the Darién Province, on the border with Colombia, where an impenetrable rainforest grows, so much so that even the Pan-American Highway, which otherwise would connect the whole American continent from Alaska to Patagonia, is interrupted south of Yaviza (the interruption is called "Darién Gap"). In this area, more than 3,000 mm (118 in) of rain fall per year, and the only time when precipitation goes down to around 150 mm (6 in) per month is January to March.

North side

In the rest of the coast overlooking the Caribbean Sea, although the rainfall is more abundant than on the southern side, there is a decrease from January to April which is more pronounced than in the northwest.


In Colón, near the Caribbean entrance to the Panama Canal, rainfall amounts to 3,300 mm (130 in) per year. In the wettest month, November, the rains become monsoon-like, reaching as high as 550 mm (21.5 in) in a month.
Here is the average precipitation in Colón.
Colón - Average precipitation

North-east of Colón, we find the San Blas archipelago, made up of coral islands which are inhabited by the Kuna Indians.

South side

The southern side, being leeward from the trade winds, is not as rainy as the northern side, in addition, it is a bit hotter. On the south coast (see Panama City), the monthly average temperature ranges from 26 °C (79 °F) in October and November to 28 °C (82 °F) in April (while in Changuinola, as previously mentioned, the average ranges from 25 °C (77 °F) in November and December to 26.5 °C (80 °F) in April and May).

Panama City

In Panama City, the capital, located on the Pacific side, rainfall amounts to about 1,730 mm (68 in) per year, almost all of it falling in the rainy season, from May to mid-December. This period is also characterized by hot and muggy weather, with poor sunshine.
Here is the average precipitation.
Panama City - Average precipitation

In return, in the period from January to April, the sun shines and it almost never rains, but it's hot, with lows around 23/24 °C (73/75 °F) and highs around 32 °C (90 °F). Here are the average temperatures.
Panama City - Average temperatures
Min (°C)232323242424242423232323
Max (°C)313232323130303030293030
Min (°F)737373757575757573737373
Max (°F)889090908886868686848686

The amount of sunshine in Panama City is not great, in fact, some cloudiness can always form, however, it's better at the height of the dry season, from February to April. On the other hand, even in the rainy season, the sun makes its appearance for a few hours a day on average, at least in the plains and along the coasts. The cloudiest areas are the east, towards the border with Colombia, and the mountainous inland areas. Here are the sunshine hours per day in Panama City.
Panama City - Sunshine

The sea in Panama is warm enough for swimming all year round: the water temperature ranges from 27 °C to 29 °C (81 °F to 84 °F), as we can see from the data of Panama City (even though this applies to both coasts).
Panama City - Sea temperature
Temp (°C)272727272829282829292828
Temp (°F)818181818284828284848282

Panama City

The south-west

Panama, southwest

In the southern plain to the west of the Gulf of Panana (see David, Santiago) and in the Azuero Peninsula, the rainfall drops below 100 mm (4 in) already in December; during the dry season, the sun shines along the coast and the heat is intense in the interior, with highs around 35 °C (95 °F).

Santiago de Veraguas

Here are the average temperatures in Santiago de Veraguas.
Santiago - Average temperatures
Min (°C)202020222222222222222121
Max (°C)323334343231313131303131
Min (°F)686868727272727272727070
Max (°F)909193939088888888868888

South of the coast, we find the pristine island of Coiba, which is home to a national park, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the southern provinces of Herrera, Coclé and Los Santos, in the part overlooking the Gulf of Panama (see Anton, Chitré, in the small area circled in light red), precipitation drops to around 1,500 millimeters (60 inches) per year. In this region, the vegetation is less thick, in fact, there are also grasslands and shrubs. In the interior, in the Sarigua National Park, there is even a desert, actually due to deforestation occurred during the last century to make room for grazing, rather than to the climate.

Hills and mountains

To find a bit of cool weather, you have to climb above 1,000 meters (3,300 feet), in the so-called tierras templadas ("temperate lands"), which have a milder climate. In Boquete, 1,200 meters (3,900 feet) above sea level, on the slopes of Barú volcano, which is the highest peak in Panama with its 3,475 meters (11,401 feet), the average temperature hovers between 20 °C and 21 °C (68 °F and 70 °F) throughout the year.
Here are the average temperatures.
Boquete - Average temperatures
Min (°C)151516171717171716161615
Max (°C)262627272625262625252525
Min (°F)595961636363636361616159
Max (°F)797981817977797977777777

In Boquete, 2.900 mm (114 in) of rain fall per year; rainfall exceeds 300 mm (12 in) from May to November, while it drops below 100 mm (4 in) per month from January to March.
Above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), in the tierras frías ("cold lands"), nights can be cold, especially during the period from December to March. Above 3,000 meters (10,000 ft), it can get cold even during the day.


Panama is almost always spared from hurricanes, which pass through the Caribbean Sea and Central America at a higher latitude. The only hurricane that hit Panama in historical times was Martha, which followed an abnormal trajectory (from north to south) and hit the coast in Mosquito Gulf, in November 1969. More recently, two hurricanes, Otto in November 2016 and Nate in November 2017, have affected Panama, even though they affected the Caribbean Sea more to the north. However, the hurricane season runs from June to November, even though at such a low latitude they almost always form at the end of the period, that is, in October and November.

Best Time

The best time to visit Panama as a whole runs from February to April, and in particular, the months of February and March: it's hot almost everywhere, the sun shines and there is little rain, except on the north-west and in the interior of the Darién province, where rainfall is quite frequent even during this period.
On the southern side, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, you can go from December (or better yet January) to April.

What to pack

For plains and coasts: bring lightweight clothes, and a light sweatshirt for the evening and for air conditioning. In the rainy season (from May to mid-December in Panama City, and throughout the year in the areas having an equatorial climate), you can add a light raincoat or umbrella. When going to the reef, you can bring snorkeling equipment, including water shoes or rubber-soled shoes.
For the tierras templadas: all year round, bring light clothing, and a sweatshirt or sweater for the evening; a raincoat or umbrella in the rainy season. In the dry season, sunscreen and a sun hat.
For the tierras frías: throughout the year, bring clothes for spring and autumn, a T-shirt for the day, and a sweater or sweatshirt and a jacket for the evening; a raincoat or umbrella in the rainy season.
For high mountains: bring warm clothes, a jacket, and hiking boots.