March is at the tail end of Panama's dry season (December - April), so the weather is generally hot and dry. As a tropical country not far north of the equator, temperatures in Panama are hot year-round. The annual average temperature is 86°F (30°C), but this can rise to 90°F (32°C) during the dry season, especially in March and April.
The Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Panama experience two rather different seasons. While March is certainly dry on the Pacific coast, there can still be occasional rain on the Caribbean coast, as well as in the highlands. The Western Highlands in particular can get quite cool (45°F / 7° C is possible) and wet, even in the dry season.
Crowds & Costs
March is peak season for travel in Panama. Along with the good weather for a beach vacation, Easter sometimes falls in March. If Easter is in April in a given year, Carnival falls in March. In March you'll be contending with both domestic travelers and international ones escaping the cold winters of North America and Europe, as well as spring break travelers. Book accommodation and transport as far in advance as possible if you're traveling in March. Expect to pay the highest prices at this time of year, and understand that you won't be alone in enjoying Panama's attractions.
Where to Go
Panama's Pacific coast will almost certainly be dry in March and although you might get some rain showers on the Caribbean coast, the conditions are still good for a beach vacation. Panama's beach resort towns aren't as developed as in many nearby places but are still ideal for spending a blissed-out time in beach paradise. Among the highlights are the Pearl Islands, Isla Palenque, Bocas del Toro, and the San Blas Islands.
If you're more interested in active adventures than chilled-out beach time, the dry season is the only comfortable time to travel into the rainforests, especially the Darien National Park in far-eastern Panama. Hike, bird watch, and learn about the indigenous people that inhabit this area of biodiversity near the Colombian border.
To get away from the dry season heat elsewhere, head to Boquete, the Volcan Baru National Park, or the La Amistad International Park in the Western Highlands, where Panama's highest mountain, Volcan Baru, sits at 11,400 feet (3,475 m). Bring a sweater and rainwear, even in the dry season.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
Experience the Easter celebrations throughout the country if Easter falls in March. Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions and re-enactments of the crucifixion take place all around the country. Many travelers like to be in the countryside (the "interior") at this time, to see the most authentic local traditions.
If Easter is in April, you can experience Carnival in March instead. You can't go wrong in Panama City, but the cultural center of Las Tablas, in the southern Azuero Peninsula, is a good alternative as it puts on one of the biggest Carnival parades in the country.
There are places to enjoy surfing during most months in Panama, but March is a great time to hit the ocean as there will likely be consistent swells on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.
Events in March
Carnival or Easter. These religious festivals are a big deal in Catholic-majority Panama. Carnival brings parades, costumes, dancing, street parties, and general merriment before the start of Lent. Easter and Semana Santa are generally more austere in tone, with re-enactments of Christ's crucifixion put on throughout the country.
International Fair of San Jose de David. Held in mid-March, this ten-day event mostly revolves around technology and industry but a range of cultural and folkloric events are also put on at the same time.
Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival. This annual festival in the mountainside town is a fixture on many international jazz and blues artists' touring calendars.
Traveling to Panama in March? Check out these great itineraries
Panama Island Tour: Panama City, Pearl Islands, & Bocas del Toro - 10 Days. Visit the world-famous Panama Canal and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Casco Viejo in Panama City, then venture to the Pearl Islands and Bocas del Toro for relaxing time on the beach.
Panama Multi-Sport Adventure - 11 Days. Get ready for an active trip to an undiscovered region of Panama that combines beautiful landscapes, exuberant nature, and pleasant weather.
Family Adventure in Panama - 7 Days. Discover the colorful streets and magnificent beaches of Panama on this week-long, family-friendly trip.