One of the things that expats tend to love most about Panama is the ability to find destinations that are still relatively untouched by large scale tourism. With over 1,500 miles of coastline, it’s a wonder (and a blessing) that Panama isn’t overrun with all inclusive resorts and flocks of tourists.
So just what are some of our favorite spots for a bit of untouched nature? Well, if beaches are what you’re looking for, then the answer is easy. Pedasi has got it all.
If you aren’t familiar with Pedasi’s various beach offerings, it’s time to plan a trip. The Pedasi district is located at the tip of a peninsula jutting into the Pacific ocean. About 300 kilometers west of Panama City, this destination is best reached by car. The four hour drive from the nation’s capital is entirely worth it, though. Especially for beach lovers!
The town of Pedasi is quaint and has all the amenities you might need. The real attraction in this area, though, are the beaches. Pedasi’s coast is dotted with dozens of relatively untouched beach destinations. Many are ideal destinations for surfing and sport fishing. Others are best for long walks or soaking up the sun.
Regardless of what you’re looking for in a beach vacation packed with natural beauty, Pedasi offers something for everyone. Below, we share with you some of our favorite beaches in the Pedasi district. Can’t pick your favorite? Make the town of Pedasi your homebase and plan enough time to explore a handful.
Playa El Arenal
A mere five minute drive from Pedasi town center, El Arenal is the easiest-to-access beach on our list. The road to the beach is paved and in good shape. Not only is El Arenal easy to get to, but it’s a crowd pleaser. The sandy bottom beach and calm waters are perfect for long beach walks, swimming, and water sports. Perhaps due to the proximity to Pedasi, El Arenal doesn’t offer much in the way of services or amenities.
If you’re planning on a full day at the beach, you’ll want to bring an umbrella, snacks, and plenty of water. This is also where you can catch a boat to Isla Iguanas (listed below). El Arenal is a great starting point to explore all that Pedasi has to offer.
Playa El Toro
Another crowd pleaser, Playa El Toro’s sandy bottom is interspersed with rocky outcrops that offer a glimpse of the changing coastline. If you are swimming at this beach, ask a local where is a safe spot, you don’t want to find yourself drifting among the rocks here.
Playa La Garita
This beach is one of Pedasi’s best and most accessible boogie boarding waves. Waves break left and right and are known to be good at all tides. There are no services at this beach so bring food and water. When tides cooperate it is possible to walk several kilometers down the sandy beach towards Playa Punta Mala.
Playa El Ciruelo
El Ciruelo is a great beach to check out if you’re looking to have plenty of space to yourself. About 20 minutes from Pedasi, El Ciruelo is perhaps most well known for the fact that it isn’t well known at all. With so many options in the area, very few visitors ever make it to Playa Ciruelo and opt instead for some of the more well known offerings. But that makes it all the more enjoyable for the select few who make this a regular spot. While surfing isn’t common here, when the stars align and conditions are perfect (big swell, no wind), this break fires off some choice left barrels. And on those days when the waves are perfect, you can pretty much count on having them all to yourself. If surfing isn’t your priority, El Ciruelo is a perfect beach for any day of the week.
Playa Los Destiladeros
A more popular spot and well worth the trip is Playa Los Destiladeros. A 15 minute drive due south of Pedasi, this is the ideal beach for stand up paddle boarders and ocean swimmers. Given the right conditions, this is also a popular spot for surfing. Even for those who don’t plan on getting in the water at all, Playa Los Destiladeros is a gem.
The long brown sand beach is lined with stately palm trees, and the beach affords views of the rugged coastline dotted with impressive rock formations and million dollar mansions. Whether you take in the view from your SUP, surfboard, or standing on the shore, it’s truly breathtaking.
Playa Los Panamaes
If you pass by Playa Los Destiladeros and keep driving for another 15 minutes, you’ll reach Playa los Panamaes. This sandy beach brake is a favorite with bodyboarders for its consistent right and left beach breaks. This is one of the least developed spots on our list.
If you choose to spend the day at Playa Los Panamaes, be sure to come prepared. Bring an umbrella and plenty of water because there is very little shade and no services here. It’s the perfect spot for a day trip if you’re looking to get away and disconnect.
Probably the most well known beach on the list. Playa Venao (also called Playa Venado) is a must-visit destination. Don’t let the 30 minute journey from Pedasi discourage you – the trip is entirely worth it! Playa Venao boasts almost five uninterrupted kilometers of beautiful gray sand beach.
Due to its half-moon shape, the center of the beach has consistent waves that are great for surfing, while the extremities on each side feature calm lake-like waters. This makes Playa Venao an ideal destination for families, groups, and surfers of all levels of experience. For the nature lover, the beach is surrounded by rolling hills that offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The beach is popular on the weekends and a handful of dining options are available.
If you’re looking to really get off the beaten path and have the beach to yourself, consider making the journey to Playa Guanico. This still relatively unknown beach is closer to Tonosi than to Pedasi. Still only an hour and a half drive, this is the perfect spot for adventurers. A quaint beach, Playa Guanico is framed by two rocky points. The sandy beach break nestled in between produces both rights and lefts. There are a few spots for a simple meal or accommodations along the beach including Surfcamp Guanico if you’re looking to rent equipment or stay overnight.
Or, skip over Playa Guanico, drive an extra 20 minutes, and find yourself at Playa Cambutal. This stunning beach is located at the proverbial “end of the road.” The waves at Playa Cambutal break across seven great locations. The most consistent and popular are “411,” Horcones, and Corto Circuito. “411” is a point break with a long right over rocky bottom, and is best surfed during medium to high tide. Horcones is a beach break with stable rights and lefts. Corto Circuito is a rock bottom point break with a very powerful peak that fires a huge tube before peeling down the int for about 300 feet.
With a location this remote, you can be rest assured that no one will be dropping in on your wave. Be warned: surfing at Playa Cambutal is not for the faint of heart. These breaks are for seasoned surfers. Not the surfing type? Walk the stretch of coast, take in the views, or grab a beer at the small scattering of beach puestos. If you’re looking to make a weekend trip of it, Hotel Playa Cambutal is a great option for an overnight stay.
The most remote of Pedasi’s beach offerings can’t be reached by road at all. Isla Iguana is a nearby island with perhaps the most beautiful of Pedasi’s beaches. If you’re willing to make the trip, you’ll be greeted by turquoise blue waters and white sand beaches dotted with palms. This is the perfect place to enjoy a couple of hours of swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing. Bring your own snorkeling gear or rent some upon your arrival on the island. Why the name “Isla Iguana”? Keep your eye peeled and you’re likely to see the black iguanas sunbathing on the sand. Only 8 kilometers off the coast and a quick boat ride from the mainland, Isla Iguana feels like it’s a world away.
Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or merely a beach aficionado, Pedasi offers something for everyone. What this stretch of coast lacks in luxury and large scale tourism, it more than compensates for in natural beauty and local culture. Did we fail to mention your favorite Pedasi beach? Let us know your picks in the comments below!