On your vacation along the Panamanian Riviera Pacifica, get away from its incredible beaches for a moment and look up to the mountains. There, in the midst of so much greenery, the Riviera hides its best secret: trails and waterfalls abounding in the forest. Here are 10 places to discover the  Riviera Pacifica 's green side.

1. La Cruz Trail

  • Location: Altos de Campana National Park, West Panamá
  • Distance: 1.3 km one way (0.8 miles)
  • Difficulty: moderate 

Although it is a short journey, it has steep sections that require effort. From the cross of the viewpoint, you'll have a spectacular view of the exact place where the Chame River joins the Pacific Ocean, and the incredible profile of the mountains.

Before arriving, you'll have to cross a few streams, and you can observe how the landscape and vegetation change little by little. What's its most spectacular feature? The rainforest, where mosses, bromeliads and orchids abound. 

To get there, take a detour at km 60 of the Pan-American Highway. A “Loma de Campana” sign will point to a path leading to the park's parking lots.

Tip: The path is not well signposted, so it's essential to hire a guide.

2. El Manglarito Waterfall 

  • Location: Sora, Chame
  • Distance: 3 km (1.86 miles)
  • Difficulty: low

Cascada El Manglarito, Sorá, Chame

Known as the jewel of the Manglarito village, this waterfall is a hidden treasure. To get there, you can rent a pick-up near the police station, where all adventurers gather to start the day. Get ready for a super fun ride that will help you through the toughest parts. 

At the end there is a short and easy descent, about 10 minutes, but be careful not to slip. You'll reach the top of the waterfall, from where you'll have a panoramic view of the impressive drop. Then you can descend between the rocks to the lagoon, perfect for swimming against the current and letting the water and wind cool you down.

Tip: Travel with an expert guide who can tell you when it's safe to get in and out of the water, especially during the rain season.

3. Saca Lagrimas Waterfall 

  • Location: Buenavista Chicá, West Panamá
  • Distance: 8.58 km (5.33 miles)
  • Difficulty: high

Getting to this waterfall is quite an adventure; in fact, its name “Saca Lagrimas” (Bring out the tears) describes, with humor, the effort you'll have to make to get your reward.

The route has quite steep slopes and descents and river crossings. In some of its sections the trail is very narrow, which adds adrenaline and requires more effort. In the end, the towering 147-foot (45-meter) drop will take your breath away.

If you get to the top, you can see even more waterfalls. The first of these, 7 meters (23 feet) high, forms a small puddle before falling.

It's not a suitable place to go in the water, but it's an incredible opportunity to enjoy nature and take very impressive photos for your social media. When you start the descent, you'll find more suitable places for a dip, even with waterfalls of their own. Be sure to stop at the famous Charco El Duende. 

Tip: Be sure to stop at the famous Charco El Duende.

4. La Gloria Waterfall 

  • Location: Capira, West Panamá
  • Distance: 800 m (0.5 miles)
  • Difficulty: low

Cascada La Gloria

The road leading to La Gloria runs parallel to the boundaries of West the Panama province and the Panama Canal basin. 

The meeting point is Mr. Anibal's house, well known to local guides. The beginning is quite easy, and you can take advantage of it to look for endemic orchids and go bird watching. The trail takes you to the top of the waterfall, with an 87 meter (285 feet) high drop and scenery that will leave you speechless.

The structure of the waterfall is staggered, ideal for rappelling, so it is worth traveling with an expert guide and proper equipment. There are also those who go the opposite way: they climb with the help of rocks. Go on an adventure and jump from the rock into natural lagoons.

The path crosses private property, so it's necessary to hire an area guide and bring cash to make local payments. For about $2, you can use changing rooms and bathrooms. 

Tip: Nearby are other waterfalls with curious names such as La Tulivieja and La Hija de la Tulivieja, which you can also visit on the same tour.

5. Hike From Piedra Pintada to India Dormida

  • Location: Valle de Anton
  • Distance: 1.66 km (1.03 miles)
  • Difficulty: medium

India Dormida, El Valle de Anton

Valle de Anton is a town peacefully nestled in a volcanic crater and surrounded by hills of peculiar shapes. La India Dormida is the most characteristic of all, because it has the shape of a woman lying down, which has inspired legends around her figure. 

This trail is part of the Caldera Route, which includes three other paths and makes up a total circuit of almost 30 kilometers (18 miles) that goes around the crater completely. The path of India Dormida starts at Piedra Pintada, an archaeological site with hand marks from ancestors who lived in these forests, and ends at the “head” of India. It's relatively short and easy with some challenging climbs.

Tips: In the Valley, you can also pay for other activities to do at India Dormida, such as bird watching and rappelling.

6. Hike to Cerro Caraiguana

  • Location: Valle de Anton
  • Distance: 2 km (1.24 miles)
  • Difficulty: moderate

Cerro Cariguana, El Valle de Antón

This hike is part of the circuit surrounding the Valle de Anton crater. Although Cerro Caraiguana is in the inner part of the crater, from its summit you can see the entire town, its surroundings and the immensity of the Pacific Ocean. 

The first part of the tour can be done by car on an unpaved road. And the second, which is the most beautiful, is done by walking. Experts recommend going up at sunrise or sunset to enjoy the best light in your photographs. 

Tip: Remember that this trail is part of the Caldera Route. If you plan it out, you could do the entire circuit in stages.

7. Hike to Cerro Gaital 

  • Location: Valle de Anton
  • Distance: 1.5 miles (2.48 km)
  • Difficulty: low to medium

Cerro Gaital, El Valle de Antón

Cerro Gaital, to the north of Valle de Anton, is also part of the circuit running through the volcanic crater.

The climb to El Gaital crosses a mossy cloud forest teeming with life, perfect for bird watching. Once at the top, a sign shows you the way to the viewpoint. Here you can see both sides of the mountain, spectacular views of the town and the Pacific Ocean, and there are those who claim that, on very clear days, you can even see the Caribbean Sea!

Tip: Due to its nature, Cerro Gaital remains covered by clouds, strong winds and rain most of the time. This does not mean the climb is restricted. On the contrary, it's quite a spectacle, just make sure you bring a windbreaker, waterproof clothing or a sweater.

8. El Chorro Macho

  • Location: Via La Mesa, Valle de Anton
  • Distance: 200 m (656 feet) (If you do just the trail)
  • Difficulty: low

Sendero Chorro El Macho, El Valle de Antón

This impressive waterfall has a drop of 35 meters (115 feet) and is in the middle of an ecological refuge where you can enjoy nature from unique angles. 

To get there, you have two options: the first, full of adrenaline, will take you over suspension bridges and ziplines to glide over the trees. The second is a short, easy hike across wooden platforms and two suspension bridges. The path is well signposted and doesn't take much effort. 

At the end of the tour, you can swim in the natural lagoons of the river or in the spa. Depending on the adventure you choose, prices range from approximately $5 to $65.

Tip: The best season is from January to April, during the dry season. The rest of the year, you should monitor weather conditions, but you'll have a greener landscape, full rivers and more abundant waterfalls.

9. El Aguila Waterfall

  • Location: Valle de Anton
  • Distance: 2.5 km (1.55 miles)
  • Difficulty: high

The El Aguila waterfall is not the highest, but it does offer incredible views and a day of adventure like no other. To begin, a steep path will take you, little by little, deep into the forest. Then you'll have to go along a river, in the middle of the wilderness. Finally, when you get to the waterfall, you'll see several streams that drop into a single natural pool. A perfect landscape for a refreshing reward. 

If you're ready for more adventures, beyond the waterfall there is a more difficult path where you'll even have to do rock climbing. You'll find a succession of natural pools.

Tip: This trail is located on private property, so you'll need to hire a guide in advance.

10. Chorro Pozo Azul

  • Location: Comunidad La Vieja, a 1 hour drive from Valle de Anton.
  • Distance: 200 m (656 feet)
  • Difficulty: low

Cascada Pozo Azul, El Valle de Antón

Getting to this waterfall is relatively easy. You should follow your map directions and be prepared to pay approximately $2 for admission.

Then, a short cement staircase will take you to the beautiful well formed by the waterfall. Its name comes from the deep blue color, which contrasts with an all-green environment. At Chorro Pozo Azul you can enjoy an adrenaline-filled day jumping from the rocks into the water, and swimming against the current. You can also climb the rocks to the top of the waterfall and enjoy the view from above.

Tip: Pozo Azul is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and has a visitor limit of up to 80 people per day, with a maximum of 40 at a time. Once you pay the entrance fee, you won't find any kind of service, it'll just be you and nature.

No matter which path you choose, always remember to hire a guide for hiking. This not only contributes to the local economy, but also makes you travel safer and avoids wasting time. If you come during the rainy season (approximately from April to December), listen to the recommendations from locals and monitor the weather to know if it's safe to visit the waterfalls. 

When you visit the Riviera Pacifica, don't forget to get to know its greener side. Go ahead and explore its tropical forests and cloud forests.

Where to Stay in

Riviera Pacifica

Where to Stay in

Riviera Pacifica