“Go outside and play!” – It’s the summer anthem of parents worldwide.
In an age where “playtime” for both children and adults occurs all too often behind some kind of screen, going outside shouldn’t just be an exasperated mom-chorus – it should be our manifesto. And one way to escape back to the great outdoors from the digitally-ruled every day? It’s travel, of course.
As it turns out, engaging, cultured, adventure travel doesn’t end when you bring the kids along. At Isla Palenque, we’ve been pleased to welcome many an enthusiastic family to our island, and the 18 and under set have become some of our favorite guests. They’re open-minded little vehicles of exploration, and more often than not they show their parents, our staff and the other guests alike what it means to let go and take true delight in the island’s wild natural beauty.
Just ahead of the summer vacation period, we’ve compiled our top activities and travel tips for visiting Isla Palenque with kids. You can also see our favorite Family Activities here.
You’re guaranteed to hear the howler monkeys within hours of arriving at Isla Palenque, but spotting these animals in our tall jungle trees is the ultimate scavenger hunt. You’ll no doubt spot one during your stay, but the anticipation is almost the best bit. Keep the binoculars close and prepare to be captivated by the treetop antics of the howlers.
Junior Travel Journalism
Let your kids be the photographers, or even writers for our blog (we’d love that!). Letting children frame their experience through pictures or words affords a sense of ownership and helps them pay attention, examine more closely and notice the little things that they might otherwise overlook.
Let the Kids Dictate the Hike
The best way to keep kids engaged on a long hike is to let them do the talking – suddenly, they’re not asking “how much longer” or “what is that”, but showing you gaps in the tree roots that are fairy houses, bites in fallen fruit, and sharing all kinds of adorable insights. When you let their imagination go wild, kids connect the greatest things in their heads. Take a break from the hot seat and ask the kids to give you their version of nature – they’ll entertain you endlessly.
Little feet-draggers in your midst? Task them with something very important. Brave adventurers LOVE to be on “spider web lookout”. Hand them a safe-distance stick and send them up front with the guide – it’s their job to protect everyone else from spider webs!
The soft volcanic sand on our beaches is perfect for sand castle building, but it’s also a great canvas for drawing pictures with sticks, creating patterns with rocks and shells or even games like tic-tac-toe. “Guess the picture” that your child is drawing in the sand is a great game to play from the comfort of a beach hammock or lounger while enjoying a cold beverage after one of our sunset hikes.
Engage your Kids in the Tour Selection
With over 20 tours and limited vacation time, helping an adventurous couple choose their tours can be tough, not to mention a family of four. Help the kids become more excited about the tours you want to do by sharing photos and videos of them beforehand. “Tide pools, mangroves and lagoons” might not be as immediately appealing to a little one as snorkelling, but expectation goes a long way – once they know about all the cool species they’ll see, they’ll raring to go.
Make an International Friend
If you’d like an afternoon to siesta on the beach or read by the pool, feel free to unleash your kids on our staff – they normally have some downtime between lunch and dinner! Prompt your kids to discover what being “Panamanian” is all about – find out what our staff played when they were little, what their favorite animals are, what their mom’s cook for dinner, what their hometowns are like etc. Our team is proud to talk about their beautiful country, and to help kids practice their Spanish.
A few more ideas:
- Draw on a temporary tattoo using a jagua plant – our guides will show you how! Warning: the ink lasts 4-5 days!
- Create a tent on the beach using our beach towels and some low-hanging branches
- Pack a new blanc notebook and a special new pen so that your kids can keep a nature journal full of the species they see and their thoughts during their hikes
- Create a scavenger hunt using our wildlife guides
Sharing authentic travel experiences with your family can be challenging – after all, the wilderness is hot and can be buggy! However, an appreciation for undisturbed nature, with all its curiosities, helps us appreciate the natural tendencies and funny quirks of the people we love. We look forward to helping you explore together – chat to us and start planning!
Download our Family Sample Itinerary here and browse even more of our Family Favorites