With lush rainforests, sandy beaches, and a vibrant culture, Panama has a great atmosphere for high schoolers looking for programs abroad. Students can chose to explore our southern neighbor through volunteer opportunities, exchange programs, and or Spanish language and cultural immersion programs.

In Panama, you can explore topics on ecology, Latin American culture, Spanish, or history. Live with a host family and experience Panamanian way of live. Or, travel through the country on an educational tour. Experience life outside of a classroom by doing high school abroad in Panama.

Panama is great for students who want to volunteer, learn Spanish, or who are interested in ecology, Latin American culture, and history.

In Panama, high school students have the option to participate in a variety of different programs, including:

  • Volunteer projects
  • Summer programs
  • High school exchanges
  • Spanish courses / immersion
Volunteer projects

While volunteering as a high school student in Panama, students can work as an assistant teaching English, helping to preserve Panama's ecosystems, building new homes for those in need, among others. For teen learners, some volunteer projects are coupled with an educational component so you can learn and volunteer at the same time (called service-learning). Most volunteer projects in Panama require at least some basic level of Spanish, while others will include Spanish lessons in their training.

Summer programs

If culture, language, and exploring are some of your interests, then a summer program in Panama is right for you. Each program is unique and can focus on everything from the Spanish language, immersing students in the local culture, or studying the environment by snorkeling around the many coral reefs surrounding the country's beaches. Some include an adventure travel component with activities like scuba diving, hiking, or rock climbing.

High school exchange

By studying abroad for a semester in Panama you will dive right into the beautiful lifestyle and language or this small country. Speaking every day with your host family in Spanish, enjoying home-cooked meals, and taking a wide variety of classes will allow students to discover more about themselves as well as others.

Spanish courses / immersion

Naturally, Panama is a popular destination for high schoolers who want to improve on and practice their Spanish language skills. For teens, all inclusive programs that include a homestay, travel, activities, and other tours are the most popular option. However, some language schools will allow for teens to attend courses and more independently organize their time in Panama.

Visas

Upon arrival, you will receive a tourist card for any stay under 90 days. If your stay exceeds 90 days, then a student visa form must be filled out before you leave for your trip. These forms can be found online and mailed into your local Panama embassy a few months before departure. However, most programs provide assistance throughout the visa process.

Housing

Most high school abroad programs in Panama place students with carefully selected host families, which allow students to experience Panamanian culture first-hand. Other programs that have more traveling have a combination of home stays and hotels.

Costs

The cost of living and traveling in Panama is slightly cheaper than neighboring Costa Rica, and its affordability is on par with a mid-sized U.S. city.

Most programs provide three meals a day and housing in their fees and students will only be responsible for their own personal expenses while in Panama. Students should budget around $25 per day in case a fun activity like a scuba diving excursion or zip lining through the rainforest comes up.

Remember to use cash as often as possible (which is easy, since Panama uses the U.S. dollar) because there is a large surcharge in Panama for paying with a credit or debit card.

Packing Tips

Panama is located in Central America and has a tropical climate. Panama's summer is from December to April, and its winter, or rainy season, is from May to January. During the rainy season, it can be very hot and humid so pack lightweight clothes. All of this means you better not leave home without:

  • A bathing suit
  • A hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellant
  • Rain jacket
  • Layers
  • Breathable clothing
Health

Traces of the Zika virus have been found in Panama. To learn more about Zika and how to avoid getting infected, read the Washington Post's article on Zika precautions.

Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, and all routine immunizations are recommended vaccinations before traveling to Panama.

Some, but not all, areas of Panama have occurrences of malaria (the CDC has a great map of malaria zones in Panama). It's unlikely that you'll need to take malaria prophylaxis while there (consult your doctor on this), but definitely do take precautions and use bug spray -- especially at dusk and in the evening, when the mosquito that carries malaria is active.

Safety

Panama has a moderate crime rate that rises when you get to bigger cities or near the Colombian border. All of the crime found in large cities of Panama is all crime you would find in any large city. This being said, it's best to be a smart traveler and not walk alone at night.

If you're staying with a host family, ask them for tips on which areas are safest and which to avoid. Also, your program provider should give you training and safety tips during your orientation.

Contributed by Brittany Gibson

High School Abroad Programs in Panama

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6 programs
Global Works
Panama Summer Service Adventures
Panama
9.33 •9 reviews

On this Panama program, we snorkel around the coral reefs of the San...

Global Works
Global Works Custom Group Travel
Multiple Countries
10 •1 review

Global Works Custom Group programs offer travel experiences for an...

AFS-USA
AFS Year and Semester High School Abroad in Panama
Panama
9 •3 reviews

Study abroad in Panama to skyrocket your Spanish by living with a host...

THINK Global School
Live and Learn in 12 Different Countries During High School
Multiple Countries
9.25 •4 reviews

THINK Global School is a traveling high school where you’ll live and...

Outward Bound Costa Rica
Outward Bound Costa Rica: Girl Scout Destinations in Costa Rica & Panama
Multiple Countries
10 •6 reviews

Experience an unforgettable adventure with fellow Girl Scouts from...

Outward Bound Costa Rica
Outward Bound Costa Rica: Teen Summer Adventures in Costa Rica & Panama
Costa Rica

What is your ideal summer adventure? Perhaps it’s trekking through the...

Other High School Programs in Central America

Not enough options in Panama? Check out these other High School Abroad programs in Central America!
  • GVI
    GVI: Volunteering for Teens
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    9.1 •10 reviews

    GVI offers a variety of opportunities for young adults between the...

  • Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)
    Summer and Spring Break Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica
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    Five unique ecosystems, one adventure. Come join us in Costa Rica to...

  • Travel For Teens
    Travel For Teens: Travel Programs for Older Teens
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    We know that older teens are more independent and we have designed...

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    Volunteer in Guatemala: Children of the Maya™
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    9.54 •24 reviews

    Guatemala promises colorful adventure - and the opportunity to make an...

  • Travel For Teens
    Travel For Teens: Costa Rica
    Costa Rica
    9.94 •18 reviews

    Join us on one of our Costa Rica programs this summer and experience...

  • Travel For Teens
    Travel For Teens: Community Service Travel Programs
    Multiple Countries
    9.85 •13 reviews

    Meaningful Community Service is an important component to many of our...

  • Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)
    Summer Volunteer Program in Belize: The Initiative for Children™
    Belize
    9.88 •8 reviews

    Lead the children of Belize in experiential learning activities such...

  • Travel For Teens
    Travel For Teens: Travel Programs for Younger Teens
    Multiple Countries
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  • Projects Abroad
    Projects Abroad High School Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica
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Gap Year Programs in Panama

Have you considered taking a gap year after high school? Start researching some of these options in Panama.
  • Kalu Yala
    The Kalu Yala Institute: Environment & Community Internships in Panama
    Panama
    9.86 •29 reviews

    At Kalu Yala, we are in the process of building the world's most...

  • Habla Ya Spanish Schools
    Learn Spanish in Bocas del Toro, Panama
    Panama
    9.54 •68 reviews

    Bocas del Toro is a funky, laid back archipelago, dotted with pristine...

  • Cross-Cultural Solutions
    Cross-Cultural Solutions: Spanish Immersion Gap Year Program
    Multiple Countries
    9.5 •2 reviews

    Soak up the Latin American culture and learn the Spanish language. Our...

  • Winterline Global Education
    Explore the World & Learn New Skills on a Winterline Global Gap Year Program
    Multiple Countries
    9.53 •15 reviews

    Are you prepared for life? Are you not sure what you want to do after...

  • Outward Bound
    Semester in Costa Rica & Florida: Earn Your Scuba Diver Certification
    Multiple Countries
    10 •1 review

    Three months. Three countries. Opportunities to test leadership skills...

  • ARCC Programs
    ARCC Gap: Centro-Caribbean - Cuba, Panama, Costa Rica & Belize
    Multiple Countries
    9.75 •4 reviews

    ARCC’s Centro-Caribbean Spring Gap Program explores some of the most...

  • Outward Bound Costa Rica
    Gap Year in Costa Rica & Panama
    Costa Rica
    10 •3 reviews

    Two course options available: Outdoor Leader Semester and Coast to...

  • Sea State
    Semester at Surf - Central America
    Multiple Countries

    If you are looking for reviews on this program, you wont find any. It...

  • Give and Surf
    Culturally Immersive Gap Year Semester in Panama
    Panama

    Spend three months immersed in the local culture of Bocas del Toro...

What People Are Saying

This was one of the most incredible and unique experiences that I have ever had for many reasons. To begin with, my trip leaders were wonderful and always accommodating to our group; they always acted...

Waterfall excursion in Santa Fé, Panamá

I had such an amazing experience during my community service trip to Panama this summer. This trip pushed me out of my comfort zone in many ways and I feel like a better person because of this. I...

The Panama sign in Panama City.

This program was incredible! I had such an unforgettable time in Panama with Global Works and had so many new experiences and made so many amazing friends who I am still in touch with. Our leaders...

Being with the kids at the school we worked at was a highlight for me! They were so cute and so excited to talk with us.

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