Having spent the summer fairly recently in Panama (2006) I can say that I don't think it is the best time of year down there. It is very hot and sticky, and they don't call it the rainy season for nothing. Portobello claims to be the wettest place in North America and I can testify that when we were there it rained for several days straight non-stop--the type of torrential rain that meant I had to bail out the inflatable
every few hours. Plus the lightning
situation is significant. We weren't hit but talked to many people who were. Of course the San Blas Islands are amazing and fascinating and you would still have a good time, but it is much nicer there during the dry season from around November or so through April. The Rio Dulce is equally interesting, but once inside you are basically stuck there in a very hot and humid place until the end of hurricane season, with not too many places to go by boat that don't have security
issues. Again, I highly recommend a visit, but it is better during the dry season.
I personally would recommend heading north from the Bahamas up the East Coast
to New England
, and Nova Scotia
if you have the time. You can get all the excitement you want cruising up there, plus the hurricane problem is a lot less, weather
is generally great (though there can be fog), and it is very beautiful. You can leave the northern Bahamas, ride the Gulf Stream
, and be north of Hatteras in a matter of a few days, with the option of heading into the coast if the weather
looks like it might be turning for the worse.