For expats, the climate of their host country is important. For retirees, it is critical! This article will explore six areas to answer your question: What are the climate choices in Panama?
Retirement generally means less or no time spend at work, and more time to enjoy the outdoors. That is why the climate decision is so important.
In addition, older bones seem to be more fickle; the temperature and humidity must be just right to avoid discomfort!
When we discussed the cost of living in Panama, we referred to the four most popular retirement destinations, namely Panama City, Coronado, Boquete and Bocas.
With the focus of our discussion on climate, we are expanding to six destinations, including the following:
- Panama City
- El Valle de Antón
Overview of Panama’s climate
The country is 1 000km north of the equator, in relative terms very close to that peculiar region that does not have four distinct seasons. Except for high altitudes, it is tropical hot, every day.
The overall climate is a tropical maritime one. The trade winds and the proximity of the two ocean bodies (Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea) to one another, have the biggest influence on the prevailing weather.
The rainy season is May to November, with the dry season in the remaining December to April period.
In summary: Panama is hot, humid and wet, with cooler climates only found at higher altitudes. However, that is a generalisation and we need to dig deeper into each destination’s climate before we can make an informed decision about living there.
1. Panama City
Panama City is always busy and seems to be a year-round destination, with tourist numbers peaking during December to February.
The city has the typical rainy season from May to November, with October delivering the most rain. The dry season is from December to April, with February the driest month.
Average temperatures throughout the year are between 23ºC and 30ºC. The average humidity is never below 80%.
Panama City has the advantage of Tocumen International Airport’s weather station that supply all the detail. Such detail and graphs are not readily available for most other destinations.
Home to the second largest expats community in Panama, Coronado is a well-developed community along Panama’s Pacific Coast.
Most importantly, it lies within the Arco Seco or Dry Arc. As the name implies, the Dry Arc receives a lot less rain than other areas, as indicated by the annual rainfall illustration below.
Exact rainfall figures are not available, but Coronado’s annual rainfall is about 1 750mm, as opposed to more than 3 250mm on the Caribbean side of Panama.
Coronado is subject to the same dry and wet seasons as Panama City, albeit with overall less rainfall. November is the rainiest month and March is the driest.
The dry season can be very dry, with up to four months of no rainfall in some years! Many expats enjoy the rainy season thanks to the predominantly clear skies and early afternoon showers that clear up relatively quickly. However, the rainy season is synonymous with high humidity.
The temperature ranges between 25ºC and 35ºC, with April the hottest month.
3. El Valle de Antón
The small town of El Valle de Antón, colloquially known as El Valle, is situated in the caldera of the dormant El Valle volcano, said to be the second largest inhabited volcano in the world.
The dry season runs from December through to April, with the remainder as the rainy season. During this rainy season, it rains almost daily, often quite heavy, and for periods up to a couple of hours before clearing up for the evening. The wettest month is October but even the driest months have some rainfall, with an annual average of about 2 800mm.
With an elevation of 600m, the temperatures are cooler than the beach areas, ranging between 19ºC and 32ºC. During the dry season, the humidity varies between 50% and 60%, while reaching 80% to 90% during the rainy season. Its elevation allows for year round breezes, with some strong winds.
Pedasi is located on the southeastern tip of the Azuero Peninsula, the driest area of Panama, and lies within the Dry Arc. The climate is very similar to that of Coronado, except for the annual rainfall, which is slightly less.
The dry season tend to be more intense and the annual rainfall is about 1 000mm. The temperature ranges between 24ºC and 34ºC with the rainy season having the highest humidity.
Of the six destinations covered in this article, Pedasi probably has the most sun and the least amount of rain.
Boquete is home to the largest expat community in Panama, and it is easy to understand the reason why – it’s all about the climate! Some expats call it the city of eternal spring; others refer to the 50 shares of green.
The two seasons, dry and rainy, follow the same broad pattern as the rest of Panama. However, because of the surrounding landscape, Boquete has a large number of microclimates, and it is near impossible to describe all in detail, or accurately. Therefore, we will do the best possible overall description.
The wettest months are October, November and December. Data I found from a wet part of Boquete, indicates an average annual rainfall of 4 100mm for the years 2008 to 2013. However, other data seem to indicate that an overall average of 2 500mm to 3 000mm is more representative.
During the rainy season, it rains almost every single day, for two to three hours during the mid-afternoon. It tapers off to a weekly shower at the start of the dry season, followed by a couple of months without any rain.
The temperature is an easy 18ºC to 27ºC, and the humidity is bearable, depending on season and specific microclimate.
For in-depth information about Boquete’s weather, you can visit Boqueteweather.com
Bocas del Toro is a large province, with a sizeable archipelago. The expat destination we are referring to is Bocas Town on the main island of Colon.
Bocas has a tropical rainforest climate. Its dry season is less predictable than the remainder of the country; the driest months tend to be January to March. Apart from these, the area receives copious amounts of rain, with July seemingly the wettest month.
The average annual rainfall in Bocas is 3 300mm. It is mostly a gentle downpour, with the odd thunderstorm in between, but when a hurricane is making its way through the Caribbean to the Gulf of Mexico, it can rain heavily.
Sometimes a squall from the southern parts blow through the Bay of Almirante, causing heavy rain and wind damage. Fortunately, these are quite infrequent.
The temperature is a predictable 23ºC to 30ºC, and during the rainy season, the humidity is high. I could not find quantitative data, but living in Bocas I can confirm it is intense, as in 90% or more.
“Panama’s climate is easy to explain: Unless you are in the mountains where it is cool and wet, it is hot and wet. Unless you are in the Dry Arc, where it is hot and less wet!” – Travel Hippi
As for weather forecasts, Windy is my favourite site.
I would love to have your thoughts on the influence of climate on the choice of retirement destinations.
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