This popular excursion offers a festive excuse to explore a bit of the Canal, visiting an island that has been "taken over" by four species of monkey: capuchin (white face), howler, Geoffroy's tamarin, and grey-bellied nocturnal monkeys. Boats head out to the island throughout the day, where sharp-eyed photographers might also spot sloths, caimans, and bright tropical birds such as toucans.
Unfortunately, the island's overwhelming appeal has led to strict regulations, and guides are no longer allowed to feed or tease monkeys - so don't count on that National Geographic shot. Trips can be combined with fishing, kayaking, canopy tours, and other adventures.
Monkey Island is accessible by boat via the port of Gamboa, 38km (22mi) north of Panama City.
Tours are sometimes criticized as overpriced, but groups of budget travelers can usually hire cheaper boats once they arrive at Gamboa.