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Istmo Family Camp

Saturday June 8 - Saturday June 15th
Saturday July 27 - Saturday August 3
Saturday August 10 - Saturday August 17


Designed for families seeking a fun adventurous hassle-free vacation. 

Our Family Retreat immerses your family in the magic of Panama and provides unforgettable adventures - bringing everyone closer together. You will enjoy quality time with your loved ones as you explore our jungles and beaches while disconnecting from the everyday stress and reconnecting with each other.

Each day has included activities designed for all ages—paddleboarding on serene cloud forest lakes, surfing on beginner-friendly beaches, hiking through lush landscapes, and uncovering hidden waterfalls - boundless opportunities to create memories to cherish for years.

You will explore the cultural fabric of Panama through vibrant local markets, lively salsa dancing classes, engaging Spanish immersion activities for children, and transformative visits to indigenous villages. Designed to ensure a seamless blend of excitement and relaxation - we take care of everything! Our small group sizes and a high ratio of guides to guests give you the personalized attention you need to make your family feel at home. 

We hope you can join us for an adventure vacation where the wonders of nature meet the warmth of family.  We have worked hard to ensure every detail is crafted for your enjoyment and peace of mind. Just turn up with your loved ones, and be ready to embrace the adventure of a lifetime!

What's Included

  • 8 days and 7 nights of family fun!  
  • 7 nights lodging in Istmo's private, air-conditioned bungalow.  Each family group will be assigned a cabin nestled in the jungle, and a short walk to a gorgeous sand beach, complete with the luxury of a warm shower and broadband internet.
  • Transportation to and from Panama City to Istmo (1.5 hrs.), with a memorable journey across the iconic Panama Canal.
  • Dinner of arrival day and breakfast on departure day.
  • 3 locally sourced meals per day (6 days).  Our meals cater to every dietary need, and even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy. 
  • Daily fresh fruit snack.
  • Mountain Lake SUP Excursion (45 min. drive each way) - Paddle around the serene mountain lake on a Stand-Up Paddleboard, followed by a picnic amidst the picturesque cloud forest.
  • Waterfall Hike Excursion (1 hr. drive each way) - Embark on an enchanting waterfall hike and picnic at the peak of an extinct volcano. After that, explore a local market at the center of a town nestled in the crater of the volcano.
  • Visit to a Local Indigenous Village (1 hr. 45 min. each way) - A deep dive into the Embera culture – dug out canoe rides, cultural talks, traditional dances, and more.
  • One Beginner Friendly Surf Lesson.
  • One Family Salsa Dancing Lesson.
  • One Adult Yoga Class - Unwind with an invigorating yoga session for adults while the kids engage in lively board games at the restaurant.
  • One Kids Yoga Class - Kids can engage in yoga session in the studio, while parents unwind at their own pace.
  • Children's Spanish Immersion Activity - Parents can enjoy a relaxing moment or a delightful happy hour before a delicious dinner, while the kids engage in a Spanish immersion art activity.
  • Movie Night - Experience a cozy movie night in the yoga studio after dinner, offering a perfect way to wind down while parents can indulge in relaxation or a social happy hour.
  • Bonfire - Bond over stories around a bonfire under stary skies.
  • Drinking Water.
  • Daily Housekeeping. 

What's not included:

  • Flights to and from Panama (PTY or RHI)
  • Travel Insurance (required)
  • Massages (available for purchase)
  • Smoothies, Drinks, Alcohol (available for purchase)
  • Optional gratuities (for our dedicated staff)
  • Optional excursion (to the Panama Canal (1.5 hrs. each way) and the old city on the “down day”)


Each family group will be assigned their own private cabin.

  • Adult Participant - USD $1,495 per person
  • 1st Child (17 years and younger) - USD $1,195 for 1 child.
  • Additional Children (17 years and younger) - USD $895 per each additional child. 

Bookings and payments are safely processed via WeTravel in partnership with Stripe.  

Pick the start date of the camp that fits your schedule:

Saturday June 8 - Saturday June 15th
Saturday July 27 - Saturday August 3
Saturday August 10 - Saturday August 17

Multiply the fun and lower costs!

Want to have your friends and family join the fun?  Refer a family of three or more to the same Istmo Family Camp session as yours, and receive a $400 discount on your final payment after their full payment is confirmed.

Sample Itinerary

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Saturday - Welcome to Istmo

 1:30 PM: Your journey begins with a scenic transfer from Panama City, crossing the iconic Panama Canal. Enjoy a welcome drink as you settle into the lush surroundings of Istmo. 

Evening: Gather for a welcome dinner complemented by an icebreaker activity to get to know your fellow adventurers. 

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Sunday - Beach Bliss and Relaxation

Morning: Start your day with a peaceful beach walk scavenger hunt, a perfect blend of relaxation and playful discovery along our local beach. 

Evening: Enjoy a restorative yoga session designed for adults, while kids delight in fun board games at the restaurant. 

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Monday - Mountain Lake Magic

Daytime: Glide across a serene mountain lake on Stand-Up Paddleboards. Continue the day with a picturesque picnic, surrounded by the cloud forest. 

Evening: While parents unwind with a happy hour or a relaxing moment, children will explore creativity through a Spanish immersion art activity, adding a cultural twist to their fun. 

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Tuesday - Waterfall Wonders and Market Exploration

Daytime: Venture on a magical hike to a mesmerizing waterfall atop an extinct volcano, followed by a delightful picnic. Later, immerse yourselves in the local culture with a visit to a local market nestled in the crater town. 

Evening: Parents can relax or enjoy a pleasant happy hour, while children partake in another engaging Spanish immersion activity. 

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Wednesday - Rest and Enjoyment

Morning: Children are invited to a kid friendly yoga session, offering them a gentle start to the day, while parents enjoy some leisure time at their own pace. 

Evening: Unwind together with a movie night in the yoga studio after dinner, providing a relaxed end to the day or parents may also indulge in a social happy hour. 

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Thursday - Surf's Up and Salsa Fever

Morning: Dive into excitement with a thrilling surfing session in the morning waves. 

Evening: Embrace the vibrant energy of salsa dancing—an exhilarating family experience. 

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Friday - Journey to an Embera Village

Day: Experience the rich culture of the Embera Village with dug-out canoe rides, insightful cultural talks, traditional dances, and more— a profound educational and bonding experience for the entire family. 

Evening: Reflect on the week’s adventures around a bonfire, sharing stories and smiles under the starlit sky. 

Tiffany Group March 2020

Saturday - Farewell Istmo

Morning: After a hearty breakfast, it’s time to depart for Panama City,  full of treasured memories and the promise of returning to these adventures that brought you closer as a family.

  • Adult Participant - USD $1,495 per person
  • 1st Child (17 years and younger) - USD $1,195 for 1 child.
  • Additional Children (17 years and younger) - USD $895 per each additional child. 

Bookings and payments are safely processed via WeTravel in partnership with Stripe.  

Pick the start date of the camp that fits your schedule:

Saturday June 8 - Saturday June 15th
Saturday July 27 - Saturday August 3
Saturday August 10 - Saturday August 17

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I have to share accommodations with other families?

No, we limit the camp experience to 8 families (we have eight bungalows, 1 per family). Each family will stay in their private air-conditioned bungalow with hot water surrounded by the rainforest.

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Connectivity - Will I be able to connect to Wi-Fi?

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Although we encourage disconnecting when possible, all our bungalows have broadband internet that supports remote working.

What ages should participants be?

Due to the nature of the activities, we accept families with children above 7 years of age. Children younger than seven might find the hike and some of the water activities too challenging.

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Can I send my teenager on their own?

No, this camp is designed to create a family bonding experience through unique adventure and cultural activities. In the future, we will be developing a teen adventure camp (but we are not there yet )

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Are parents expected to participate in all activities?

That is up to the parent, but we are happy to have you participate in all activities. We offer “parent optional” activities throughout the week so parents can have some downtime or go to Happy hour.  Children 14 and older may go without their parents for the offsite activities. A parent should accompany children 13 and under.

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Do kids have to participate in all activities?

All activities are optional, but we do encourage the kids to participate in all activities to get the most out of this unique experience.  

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How strenuous are the hikes and water activities?

The hikes and water activities have been carefully selected to accommodate a range of age groups, where they are enjoyable and still a bit challenging for the kids. We also vary the hike depending on the overall makeup of the group. The minimum hike is 30 minutes each way, whereas, for a more athletic group, we choose a hike that is 1 hour each way. For trail selection, we consider that trails in Panama are less “groomed” and maintained than trails you would find in the US or Canada. Additionally, we factor in that we are hiking in the tropics, where it is hotter and more humid than most participants are accustomed to.  

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Sample menu

At our retreat center, we take pride in crafting meals that feature a delightful blend of fresh, healthy, and locally sourced ingredients, ensuring a dining experience that caters to all, including our young guests, with various kid-friendly options. 

  • Breakfast- Coconut Quinoa with fresh fruit, banana muffin, hard-boiled eggs, cereal, and fresh passion fruit juice. Coffee and Tea for the adults

  • Lunch- Fish or Veggie burgers, rosemary potato wedges, green beans with roasted garlic

  • Dinner- Pasta and Veggies with a coconut pumpkin sauce or marinera sauce with or without turkey meatballs, green salad, banana cream pie or tamarind popsicle for dessert. 

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Health and Safety

The Health and Safety of your family is our priority. Panama is a very safe country, especially in the rural areas around where we are located. If a health issue does arise we are prepared by

  • Onsite first aid kit as well as first aid kit taken on all excursions, and guides have had basic first aid training
  • The owner/ Host/ Guide is a former Emergency Medical Technician 
  • Private medical clinic (business hours) and pharmacy 5 minutes away 
  • 24-hour local hospital 10 minutes away
  • US-accredited private hospitals in Panama City 1.5 hrs away from Retreat Center.

Please check with your insurance provider for international coverage or purchase travel insurance when you are here.

Money and expenses while I am at Istmo.

The currency in Panama is the US dollar. Each family will run a tab with us during your stay. Any smoothies, massages, extra expenses will be added to your tab, which you will pay at the end of your stay. Payment can be made via credit card or cash.


Temperatures in our area tend to average 88 F during sunlight hours and about 78 F after sunset/before sunrise year round. The green season is between May and December, and the dry season is between Jan and April. Both seasons are wonderful times to visit Panama. The Dry season has warm sunny days and strong tradewinds blowing across the country during the North American Winter. The Green season is more lush and vibrant, with afternoon showers cooling things off.

What to bring?

Other than what you would typically bring for a week of traveling- A valid Passport, clothes, swimsuits, flip flops or sandals, toiletries, chargers, etc. 

  • Comfortable hiking shoes (running shoes will also work, but hiking shoes are preferred) 
  • Water shoes (optional) 
  • Flashlight or headlamp 
  • Sunscreen and sun hat 
  • Bug repellant 
  • Small backpack for day trips
  • A light rainjacket or poncho 
  • Water bottle
  • snack food items*** 
  • Allergy medication, pain relief medication, and any other medication you may need 
  • Books to read.  Each room has a small book exchange section.  
  • If you are traveling from Europe - pack an adaptor to charge your electronics.  

* Each room has a combination safe to store your valuables safely.

**Please note the Istmo Retreat Center provides basic yoga mats, but we recommend bringing your own if you want a thick mat or a specific texture. 

***If you are not used to a vegetarian or low-meat diet or are prone to getting snack-ish during the day, you may want to bring some items, just in case!  Each room has a refrigerator. On the way up from Panama City the shuttle will stop by a local grocery store for individuals to buy snacks.

The currency in Panama is the US dollar. Each family will run a tab with us during your stay. Any smoothies, massages, extra expenses will be added to your tab, which you will pay at the end of your stay. Payment can be made via credit card or cash.

What if I forget something (toiletries, phone charger, repellant, sunscreen, etc.)?

A 25-minute walk will take you to our local commercial center, where you can find most basic items. We also have a messenger service to buy the item(s) for you for an additional $5 fee.

Laundry Service.

We offer a laundry service at Istmo for $10 a load with a 24-hour turnaround.


Surprisingly to most, mosquitos and other biting insects are not a major problem in our area. This is especially true during the dry season (mid-December to May). During the green season, they are more prevalent, but mainly during dawn and dusk. During these hours, it is advisable to wear long pants or repellant.  In the middle of the day or after dark, mosquitos and biting insects are not a problem.

Which airport should I fly to?

Tocumen International Airport in Panama City - PTY.

Do I need a Visa?

If you are a US Citizen or form Europe and/or most countries of the Americas you do not need a visa.  Check the Visa Policy of Panama - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Panama

Distance from the airport.

With no traffic, we are 1 hour and 45 minutes from the International airport. We are about 1 hour and 20 minutes from the center of Panama City. Rush hour work traffic from Panama City can be heavy and add time to the journey. It is always best to arrive and depart during off-peak hours. 

What if we want to arrive early or stay after?

 If you are traveling all the way to Panama, why not see more of Panama?  It is an amazing country with so much to see and do if you have extra time you should see more of the country. Reach out to us, and depending on your time frame and interest, we can make some recommendations.

Tipping the Staff.

Tips for the staff are not included and are always appreciated. At the end of the retreat, we put out a tip jar for the staff. The tips are divided equally amongst the housekeepers, kitchen staff, and the gardener/maintenance staff. As a business, we have an educational fund that supports the families that work at Istmo to help cover their yearly educational expenses. A percentage of your payment goes to this educational fund.

Has Istmo thought of everything?

Yes 😉

About US.

Your host and camp creator, Sean Davis, brings a rich background to the table, having served as an elementary and middle school teacher for several years before earning his master's degree in Educational Administration. He was the director of an international school before leaving his school career to follow another dream. Building upon his experience, Sean and his wife Ayesha established Istmo 10 years ago, a thriving retreat center nestled in the rainforest near a picturesque beach at the foot of an extinct volcano. Their two children, aged 10 and 12, have been fortunate to grow up in this tropical paradise.

As a family, they have thoroughly explored and led tours across the region's beaches, mountains, and waterways, cultivating an intimate familiarity with the surroundings. This naturally led them to the realization that offering family retreats during the summer months would be the next remarkable chapter. These retreats invite families seeking extraordinary adventures and cultural experiences in a tropical setting to come and share in the wonders of this diverse region of Panama.


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Gannon wilson

Denver, Colorado

Our one-week stay at Istmo Retreat Center was absolutely amazing! My husband and I went there with our two kids, aged 9 and 14, and we had an incredible time. The tree-lined beach with black and white sand was just a short walk away, and we all loved swimming and playing there. We took a surfing lesson at a nearby beach that we enjoyed as much as our kids. We even got to see two really cool waterfalls nearby, which was super exciting.

The highlight of our trip was visiting the Embera village. We spent a day there, learned about their culture, and our kids played soccer with the local kids on their slippery mud “soccer field” – so much fun! The owners, Sean and Ayesha, were really nice and made our stay even better. They made sure we had delicious food and felt at home. The food is outstanding; even our 14-year-old, who is picky, loved the food. This was honestly the best family vacation we've ever had, and we're already planning to go back to Istmo because it was just that awesome!

? Embark on a Pre-Adventure Journey with Us!
To immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and stories of our family camp ahead of your trip, be sure to connect with us on Instagram. It's the perfect way to get a sneak peek and familiarize yourself with the magic that awaits. Let's share this journey together, every step of the way! ? 

Need more information?  Contact Us


Playa Grande, San Carlos, Panama Oeste, Panama