Panama Beaches

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Panama Beaches

17 Best Beaches in Panama — Top Public Beach Spots

Camp on any of these islands, and enjoy stellar views of the clear night sky.

The 12 Best Beaches in Panama – 2023 Guide with Photos

The 12 Best Beaches in Panama – 2023 Guide with Photos

Panama is definitely one of the most beautiful countries worldwide. It has a rich history, fascinating culture, and a variety of historic sites including the famous Panama Canal. But Panama has so much more to offer. Its beaches are some of the best in the world and one of the reasons that Panama is the perfect vacation destination for you and your family. With coastline and islands along the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Panama is home to some fantastic beaches. We have chosen the best beaches in Panama for you.

The beaches along Panama’s Pacific Coast are mainly long and wide with large waves, ideal for surfing. Meanwhile, the Caribbean side offers smaller beaches with calm waters, perfect for swimming and relaxing. The white-sand beaches and turquoise waters here rival the best of the Bahamas.

Having lived and worked in tourism in Panama for several years, I definitely have my favorite beaches. Here are some of the best beaches in Panama:

Best Caribbean Beaches in Panama

Guna Yala (San Blas Islands) may well be the best-kept secret in the Caribbean, although the beaches of San Blas have often been described as some of the best in the world. The development has been limited because the archipelago is controlled by the indigenous Guna tribe.
There is a total commitment to maintaining a wonderful natural environment. The sands are lovely and white and the water is clear and perfect for snorkeling. Scuba diving is not allowed. Accommodation is eco-friendly and mostly rustic but that’s the charm of this “paradise on earth” and my all-time favorite place.

The San Blas Islands are truly an amazing place to visit! The small islands with unspoiled beauty, turquoise water, white-sand beaches, swaying palm trees, are absolutely stunning. The beaches in Guna Yala are without a doubt the best beaches in Panama and a visit here is the experience of a lifetime.

To get there, you can either book jeep transfers, oftentimes as a package that includes a couple of overnights, from Panama City or it is a short 30-minute flight from Panama City’s domestic airport.

Panama Beaches

Bocas del Toro is part mainland and part archipelago and located right on the border with neighboring Costa Rica. The beaches of Bocas are the quintessential Caribbean … turquoise waters and white sands, coconuts growing from a fringe of bright green palms. Although I must caution you: If you visit the San Blas Islands first, not much else in Panama can compare to those beaches.

That being said the Zapatillas islands which are two idyllic mangrove islands in Bocas del Toro’s Bastimentos Island National Marine Park definitely belong to the best beaches in Panama. These islands are like something off a postcard. They have white-sand beaches, tropical forests, palm trees hanging over the turquoise Caribbean Sea, and coral gardens. The water is partly sheltered by a barrier reef and guarantees fine snorkeling. You may see nurse sharks and moray eels as well as much colorful fish. The uninhabited islands are an important nesting site for endangered sea turtles.

The Zapatillas islands can be best reached on a day tour offered by the many agencies in Bocas town, or ask us to organize a private boat tour for you and your family.

Panama Beaches

Next on our list of the best beaches in Panama is the most well-known of Bocas del Toro’s beaches, Red Frog Beach. It is located on Bastimentos Island and takes its name from the little red frogs that scramble along the shores. Red Frog Beach has a naturally beautiful setting, with lush vegetation just behind the beach. Sloths and monkeys live in the trees, while the marine life offshore is colorful and impressive.

There is usually a breeze and the waves in the clear blue waters make it a great spot for surfing. But beware! This beauty can have deadly riptides and dangerous currents.

The beach can be reached by water taxi from Colon Island, followed by a jungle hike to the other side of Bastimentos Island.

Panama Beaches

4. Starfish Beach (Playa Estrella) – Bocas del Toro

Located near the Boca del Drago beach on Bocas’ main island, Isla Colon. Colorful starfishes can often be found in the clear blue waters here, hence the name (do no pick them up please). The palm trees provide a further contrast in color and give much-needed shade as well. You can rent kayaks, floating chairs, and water bikes by the hour to get you to the mangroves.

The beach is not very wide here but the water is calm and there is only a gentle slope into the water. Starfish Beach is clearly one of the most beautiful and swimmable beaches in the Bocas area, and one of the best beaches in all of Panama. It is a perfect place to visit on a Panama family vacation, especially for parents with small kids. Just avoid weekends when a lot of locals come here and it can get busy and loud. There are a couple of small restaurants close by.

You can visit Starfish Beach as part of an organized boat tour or take a bus or taxi from Bocas town to Boca del Drago and walk from there.

Panama Beaches

MAP

Best Beaches in Panama

Best Pacific Beaches in Panama

5. Isla Gamez and Isla Bolaños – Chiriqui province

Chiriquí province, so far mostly known as a mountain destination, has recently become known also as a new world-class beach and island destination. Warm sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, majestic mangrove forests teeming with exotic wildlife and birds (think toucans, monkeys, and more), as well as a glorious undersea world including dolphins and whales can be found here.

The picturesque islands of Gamez and Bolaños are part of the Marine National Park in the Gulf of Chiriqui. Bolaños and Gamez both have amazing white sand beaches and lush vegetation with swaying palm trees. You will be able to see lots of colorful fish and turtles in its crystal clear waters. These islands are the perfect place to relax, snorkel, and just enjoy with family and friends.

Both are virgin islands and you might not see another soul all day. Make sure to bring everything you need with you.

Nearby Boca Chica acts as the gateway to both the Gulf of Chiriquí National Park and its islands. The natural beauty of this place is impressive, but it is still off-the-radar for most tourists.

The islands can be reached on a boat tour from Boca Chica which is about 1 hr drive from Panama’s second-biggest city, David.

Panama Beaches

Las Lajas is a town located near the city of David in the Chiriquí province. It has one of the best beaches in Panama but still remains relatively undiscovered. This little-known beach stretches for over 9 miles, and you can be completely alone walking for miles without seeing a soul.

Las Lajas beach is also popular because of the friendly waters and lack of strong waves. Although, on occasions, the waves can be favorable for bodyboarding or even surfing when the tides are right. On weekends, the beach brings many visitors to its brownish sands lined with palm trees.

Las Lajas beach is best reached by rental car or on a self-drive tour as this can be an easy stop on your itinerary. It is about a 1.5-hour drive from David, Panama’s second-biggest city, or a 6-hour drive from Panama City.

Panama Beaches

7. Isla Coiba – Gulf of Chiriqui, Veraguas province

Isla Coiba, the largest island in Central America, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Park. The island’s unspoiled white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, coral reefs, and diverse wildlife attract travelers from around the world. The protected waters of Coiba Island offer fantastic spots for scuba diving and snorkeling.

Offshore, Granito de Oro is a small island with a beach and coral reef. In the water, you may see hammerhead sharks, whales, and manta rays, as well as other colorful marine life. It is often called “the Galapagos of Central America”. Why you’ve never heard of it? The former penal colony remains a Panama off-the-beaten-path destination due to its remote location and the restrictions of the nature reserve.

Most travelers arrive via an organized snorkel or dive tour leaving from Santa Catalina on the mainland. It’s not the easiest or cheapest place to get to, but so worth it. It is truly an amazing place.

Panama Beaches

8. Santa Catalina – Gulf of Chiriqui, Veraguas province

Until a few years ago, Santa Catalina was a tiny and mellow fishing village that saw virtually no visitors outside of Panamanian surfers. Santa Catalina’s somewhat remote location has kept Santa Catalina devoid of large tourist crowds, but the word is out, and people are starting to show up.

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Located along the Pacific Ocean in the Veraguas province, it has some of the most consistent surf in the country and is the starting point for trips to Isla Coiba (see above). La Punta in Santa Catalina is the most popular surf break for the gurus. Playa El Estero is the perfect spot for beginner surfers with its small to medium-sized rolling waves. But even if you don’t surf, you will enjoy Santa Catalina’s beaches and laid-back vibe.

Santa Catalina is best reached by rental car from Panama City which is about 5 hours away or on a self-drive tour. There is no gas station, no ATM, no big grocery store in the village so come prepared.

Panama Beaches

Playa Cambutal is a laid-back beach town on the southern Azuero Peninsula. Mostly popular with surfers and deep-sea anglers, its attractive coastline will appeal to almost everyone. It is still an off-the-beaten-path destination. And although the first hotels have opened up in recent years, the area still lacks many facilities.

Cambutal’s dark sand beach is lovely and is surrounded by one of the peninsula’s few coastal forests.

Surfing is still a major reason that many travelers come here as the waves are nice and uncrowded. The fishing at Playa Cambutal is also quite good as the seafloor dives steeply just beyond the coastline, creating an area that’s ideal for large fish, including tuna, marlin, and grouper.

Aside from lounging along the beach, other activities in Playa Cambutal include ocean kayaking, horseback riding, and hiking. Playa Cambutal is also close to Cerro Hoya National Park. Although very remote, this park is one of the richest (and most untouched) parks in all of Panama. It’s also one of the last habitats for the endangered scarlet macaw in Panama.

Cambutal is about a 6-hour drive from Panama City and a good hour from Playa Venao. I’d recommend visiting it by rental car or on a self-drive tour.

Panama Beaches

Playa Venao is one of the most beautiful and best beaches in Panama, stretching over two and a half miles of beautiful shoreline, and is seldom crowded. It is a beautiful horseshoe-shaped bay known for consistent waves, black sand beach, outdoor activities, comfortable accommodation, great food, and vibrant nightlife.

Playa Venao has become a hot destination for locals and overseas tourists alike. Together with Santa Catalina, it is famous for having the best surfing in Panama. Playa Venao offers consistent breaking waves for all skill levels, from beginner to professional.

But the area also offers many other recreational activities such as kite surfing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, fishing, diving, snorkeling, hiking, and whale watching. Playa Los Destiladores is another beautiful beach close to the cute and traditional village of Pedasi.

Venao is located about 5.5 hrs drive from Panama City and can be easiest reached by rental car or as part of a self-drive tour.

Panama Beaches

Isla Iguana offers the only white-sand beach on the Azuero Peninsula, together with beautiful crystal clear waters. It is a secluded paradise, considered a wildlife refuge, inhabited only by rare birds, giant lizards (“iguana in Spanish”), and purple and red crabs.

The island is located off the shore of Pedasi and only accessible by boat. Isla Iguana is a snorkeling and diving paradise as it has the biggest area of well-preserved coral reefs in the Gulf of Panama with 14 different coral species, more than 350 tropical fishes, and over 200 species of invertebrates. In addition, several species of marine turtle come to the island to lay their eggs from April to September and humpback whales swim around these waters from June to November to mate.

This island offers two beaches to choose from: El Cirial is the main and larger beach. It has calm waves and is perfect to soak up the sun and take a nice swim in the amazing waters. El Faro is smaller and more secluded. It has stronger currents but is more popular for snorkeling. There is a hiking trail you can follow to go from one beach to the other.

The island can be reached from picturesque Pedasi town in Los Santos province. Make your way to nearby Playa Arenal and arrange with local fishermen to give you a return boat ride to Isla Iguana.

Panama Beaches

12. Isla Contadora – Pearl Islands (Islas Perlas)

Located 30 miles off the Pacific coast of Panama, Isla Contadora is the most developed place in the Pearl Islands (“Las Perlas”). The island is a popular beach escape for those wanting a break from Panama City. Contadora combines nature with sophistication; white-sand beaches and pelicans with exclusive villas and a few boutique hotels. But don’t expect a lot of restaurants or nightlife here. The island is rather quiet and can sometimes even feel deserted.

There are eleven beaches on the island. The most well-known might be Playa de las Suecas (translates to Beach of the Swedish), a pristine, charming, semi-hidden spot that also happens to be Panama’s only nude beach. Other popular beaches include Playa Galeón, Playa Cacique, and Playa Larga. For a true virgin island experience, it is also possible to take a boat to one of the archipelago’s uninhabited islands and beaches.

The water that surrounds Isla Contadora is ideal for different water activities. Diving and snorkeling are among the most popular. The island is only half a square mile so it’s easy to get everywhere. Transportation is largely limited to golf-carts, four-wheelers, scooters, and bicycles, all of which can be rented for the day. Or you can easily walk to many of the beautiful beaches.

To get to Isla Contadora, you can fly from Panama City in just 20 minutes or else take a rather costly but scenic 2-hour ferry, hence it is a bit far and expensive for a day tour.

Panama Beaches

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Conclusion:

Skirting both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and with thousands of islands, Panama is home to some of the world’s best beaches. Whether you’re looking to relax, snorkel or surf, this little Central American country has got you covered. To find glorious tropical beaches, start with a visit to Panama’s Caribbean islands.

Have you been to Panama and its awesome beaches? Which one was your favorite?

17 Best Beaches in Panama — Top Public Beach Spots!

Christina Rado

Panama, with its strategic location between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, is a treasure trove of paradisiacal beaches.

A vibrant melting pot of cultures, the country boasts a rich history, colorful biodiversity, and the world-famous Panama Canal.

However, it’s Panama’s breathtaking beaches that truly shine as hidden gems.

As an experienced travel writer, I have explored these sun-kissed coastlines, and I’m thrilled to share with you the ultimate guide to the best beaches in Panama.

This comprehensive review aims to solve that issue by offering curated tips and insider recommendations.

Whether you are looking for serene sunbathing spots or adventurous water sports locations, these Panamanian beaches offer it all.

Immerse yourself in this tropical guide and let the Pacific and Caribbean breezes guide your next family vacation.

Best Beaches in Panama Compared

Discover the best beaches in Panama, your ticket to sun-kissed bliss.

Dive into unforgettable family adventures by checking out our reviews below.

Editor’s Choice

Panama Beaches

San Blas Islands

Nestled in the Carribean side, these 365 islands boast some of the best beach spots in Panama.

  • Family-Friendliness: 5/5
  • Safety: 4/5
  • Amenities: 3/5
  • Water Quality: 5/5
  • Accessibility: 3/5

#2nd Best Choice

Panama Beaches

Red Frog Beach

Located on Bastimentos Island, this oasis is one of the most popular beaches in Panama, especially for backpackers.

  • Family-Friendliness: 4/5
  • Safety: 4/5
  • Amenities: 4/5
  • Water Quality: 4/5
  • Accessibility: 3/5

#3rd Best Choice

Panama Beaches

Starfish Beach

You’ll find this slice of paradise, known for its sugar white sands and azure waters, in Bocas del Toro.

  • Family-Friendliness: 4/5
  • Safety: 4/5
  • Amenities: 3/5
  • Water Quality: 4/5
  • Accessibility: 4/5

Here are the top 17 beaches in Panama.

1. San Blas Islands (Editor’s Choice)

San Blas Islands

Nestled in the Carribean side, these 365 islands boast some of the best beach spots in Panama.

Ratings Criteria

  • Family-Friendliness: 5/5
  • Safety: 4/5
  • Amenities: 3/5
  • Water Quality: 5/5
  • Accessibility: 3/5

Pros

  • Natural beauty: The islands are largely untouched by commercialization, providing a truly idyllic and unspoiled beach experience.
  • Cultural immersion: The San Blas Islands are inhabited by the indigenous Guna Yala people, who have preserved their traditional way of life and culture.

Cons

  • Limited infrastructure: As the San Blas Islands are relatively remote and isolated, the infrastructure can be basic and limited.
  • Accessibility challenges: Getting to the San Blas Islands can be a bit challenging, especially for those who are not comfortable with small boat transfers.

Why We Recommend This Beach

There’s no place on earth quite like the San Blas archipelago.

As you venture into these remote and pristine islands, you’ll uncover breathtaking white sand stretches with swaying trees and azure waters.

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Although getting to these otherworldly islands can be a little rough, you’ll surely enjoy every moment of your trip.

Expert Tip

If you want to disconnect and get away from the world in a gorgeous setting, San Blas is the place to go.

These islands in Panama are owned by the natives, Kunas, and you’ll have to follow a specific process to stay on these islands.

They provide 3 meals per day, rustic accommodations and transportation to these surreal Panama beaches.

If, however, you’re looking for a more luxurious way to visit the islands, I suggest that you charter a private yacht.

2. Red Frog Beach

Red Frog Beach

Located on Bastimentos Island, this oasis is one of the most popular beaches in Panama, especially for backpackers.

Ratings Criteria

  • Family-Friendliness: 4/5
  • Safety: 4/5
  • Amenities: 4/5
  • Water Quality: 4/5
  • Accessibility: 3/5

Pros

  • Scenic setting: It offers a postcard-perfect beach landscape, ideal for photography enthusiasts and nature lovers.
  • Biodiversity: Visitors can explore the area’s nature trails, spot unique wildlife species, and even have the chance to encounter the iconic red poison dart frog, which gives the beach its name.

Cons

  • Crowded during peak season: Red Frog Beach is a popular destination among tourists, and during the peak season, it can get crowded with visitors.
  • Limited dining options: Visitors looking for a wide range of restaurants or culinary variety may find their options somewhat restricted.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Even though it’s pretty famous, this beach doesn’t feel crowded or frenzied at all.

With gentle waves and immaculate water, it’s also a terrific spot to take a plunge.

In fact, it’s the best beach for swimming in Panama.

As a bonus, the beach has a scenic rainforest backdrop that will give you the urge to snap a ton of photos.

Expert Tip

Once you have your fill of sun and sand, do a little exploration around the island.

You’ll spot monkeys and sloths hanging in the trees, and even uncover caves.

You may also surf and kayak in the ocean.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Selina Red Frog

3. Starfish Beach

Starfish Beach

You’ll find this slice of paradise, known for its sugar white sands and azure waters, in Bocas del Toro.

Ratings Criteria

  • Family-Friendliness: 4/5
  • Safety: 4/5
  • Amenities: 3/5
  • Water Quality: 4/5
  • Accessibility: 4/5

Pros

  • Abundant marine life: Snorkeling enthusiasts can enjoy exploring the underwater world and spot colorful fish, coral reefs, and, of course, starfish.
  • Relaxed atmosphere: Starfish Beach offers a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, making it an excellent choice for travelers seeking a peaceful and quiet beach experience.

Cons

  • Limited facilities: Starfish Beach is less developed compared to some other tourist destinations in Panama, so the facilities and amenities available may be limited.
  • Tide dependency: The visibility and accessibility of the starfish at Starfish Beach are highly dependent on the tides.

Why We Recommend This Beach

If you’re searching for nice beaches for families, look no further than this seaside wonderland in Bocas del Toro.

With gentle waves and shallow, crystalline waters, it’s even the safest beach for kids in Panama.

And, as its name suggests, the beach has a multitude of beautiful starfish.

Expert Tip

You don’t have to pack a ton of food on your visit to this beach.

There are makeshift kitchens nearby where you can enjoy mouth-watering grilled dishes, lobster and fried chicken.

Likewise, you may rent a chair, and enjoy a cold bottle of beer.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge

4. Playa Bluff

Playa Bluff

Stretching for 3 miles, this Isla Colon beach is a haven of fun for intrepid travelers.

Why We Recommend This Beach

With consistent large waves, this beach is truly a prime spot for thrilling water sports, like boogie boarding and surfing.

Furthermore, it’s more serene than the other top beaches in Panama, making it an excellent place to unwind.

Expert Tip

Bring your own supplies and food since the amenities on this beach are limited.

Although there are a few eateries near the beach, you’ll save more money if you bring your own food.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Hummingbird

5. Isla Coiba

Isla Coiba

Set perfectly in Coiba National Park, this uninhabited island features some of the prettiest beaches in Panama.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Isla Coiba is a slice of paradise on earth.

On one end of the island, you’ll find laid-back beaches with gentle waters.

Meanwhile, the other side has waterfront spots with large waves ideal for serious surfing aficionados.

And, did we mention that it’s an exceptional snorkeling spot?

Expert Tip

The best way to reach the island is to take a boat ride from Santa Catalina.

Also, explore the island, to spot a variety of animals, including turtles and over 200 types of birds.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Vista Coiba Villas and Restaurant

6. Playa Coronado

Playa Coronado

Situated 50 miles from Panama City, this cove is the most developed beach in the area.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Playa Coronado is arguably the most well-known beach town in Panama.

With a mix of accommodations, restaurants and shops, this beach has all the amenities you need for a comfortable beach escape.

Known for its swells, the beach is ideal for swimming and water sports too.

Expert Tip

Want to spice up your beach escape?

Why not play a round of golf at the BlueBay Coronado Golf and Beach Club?

Besides its 18-golf course, the club is also packed with family-friendly amenities.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hotel Coronado Inn

7. Isla Iguana

Isla Iguana

Declared as a protected wildlife refuge in 1981, this 58-acre reserve is situated on the Azuero Peninsula.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Isla Iguana is a little island and a wildlife reserve beloved by bird enthusiasts.

Not fond of birding?

Maybe, the gorgeous coral reefs, empty sandy beaches and crystal clear waters will tantalize you.

Divers will also discover turtles, rainbow-colored fish, moray eels and octopus.

Expert Tip

The island has no facilities and stores, meaning you need to bring your own food and water.

Also, don’t forget to bring some insect repellent and sunblock.

You may likewise enjoy its beaches at night, but you’ll have to notify the refuge’s rangers.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hotel Punta Franca

8. Playa Larga

Playa Larga

Sitting on Contadora Island, this half-mile stretch is a pleasant antidote to your frenzied lifestyle.

Why We Recommend This Beach

No list of the best things to do in Panama is complete without Playa Larga.

Not only does it calm waters and eye-catching white sands, but it also has a soothing atmosphere.

And, since it’s a bit remote, the beach is perfect for those who want to escape the crowds.

Expert Tip

Bring cash, as the grocery stores on the island don’t accept cards.

Moreover, pack plenty of drinking water on your visit to this beach.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hotel Gerald

9. Cayos Zapatilla

Cayos Zapatilla

These 2 idyllic and uninhabited islands are part of the majestic 13,226-hectare Bastimento Island National Marine Park.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Cayos Zapatilla is an easy-going haven where you can chill and soak up some sun rays.

Plus, these islands boast lively coral reefs and are nesting sites for sea turtles.

As you explore the archipelago’s underwater world, you’ll also see moray eels, colorful fish and nurse sharks.

Expert Tip

Camp on any of these islands, and enjoy stellar views of the clear night sky.

Just be a little careful of the chitras, or sand flies.

On the east Zapatilla, there’s an interpretive walking trail that winds through mangrove patches and tropical forests.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Selina Red Frog

10. La Barqueta

La Barqueta

La Barqueta is a laid-back beach community situated in the province of Chiriqui.

Why We Recommend This Beach

La Barqueta is a hotspot for surfing aficionados, thanks to its consistent and huge swells.

Underrated and peaceful, this beach is also a pleasant place to stroll and sunbath.

And, the best part is, you’ll have the beach all to yourself here.

Expert Tip

Wear sandals or aqua shoes on your visit to this cove.

The sand quickly gets hot and might burn your feet.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Aranjuez Hotel and Suites

11. Playa Las Lajas

Playa Las Lajas

Set along the Pacific Coast in Chiriqui, this 12-kilometer expanse is a popular beach in the mainland.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Playa Las Lajas captivates visitors with its seemingly endless stretch.

Of course, the beach also has some excellent waves, making it a superb area for body surfing.

If you’re not in the mood for swells, you can just relax and appreciate the gentle breezes and beautiful palm trees.

Expert Tip

The beach tends to attract a bevy of visitors and adventurers at weekends.

But, on weekdays, the beach is often empty, meaning you can relish the glorious stretch all by yourself.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Show Pony Beach Resort and Suites

12. Isla Grande

Isla Grande

Despite its “grand” tag, this island in Colon is small, peaceful and beautiful.

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Why We Recommend This Beach

Want a refreshing escape from modern life and big cities?

Well, do yourself a favor, and indulge in a restorative retreat on Island Grande.

With its rustic charm and transparent waters, this island will give you a feeling of relaxation, exclusivity and secludedness like no other.

Expert Tip

Bring cash for the ice-lollies, lunch, beach entrance fee and car park.

Keep in mind that there’s no ATM on Isla Grande.

Likewise, make sure to pack sunscreen and rash vests.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hotel Cocotal

13. Santa Catalina

Santa Catalina

Tucked away on the Chiriqui Gulf, this fishing village was once Panama’s best kept secret.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Santa Catalina, until recently, was relatively unknown to foreign visitors.

Today, it’s a burgeoning surfing destination, thanks to its fantastic beach break.

And, it also buzzes with exciting beach activities, like snorkeling, kayaking and scuba diving.

Expert Tip

Hike the picturesque 1.5-mile Cres Trail, which will lead you to a lookout point.

Once you arrive at the top, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the Gulf of Montijo and Agua Blanca.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Sol y Mar

14. Punta Chame

Punta Chame

Punta Chame is a well-known windsurfing destination along central Panama’s Bahia de Chame.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Punta Chame is a kitesurfing hot-spot, especially between December and April.

For newbies of the sport, there are reputable schools that teach you the basics of windsurfing.

Additionally, you’ll love the picturesque views of the grey sands and the bay.

Expert Tip

Kids should abstain from swimming on this beach.

At low tide, the beach is dotted with stingrays.

In addition, the wind can create rough waves that might be too strong for newbie swimmers.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hotel Punta Chame Villas

15. Pedasi

Pedasi

Perched on the edge of the Azuero Peninsula, this underrated beach town is a 4-drive from Panama City.

Why We Recommend This Beach

They don’t call Pedais “tuna coast” for nothing.

For years, this picturesque town has been a beloved destination for sports fishing.

It’s now known for its world-class surfs, immaculate beaches and glittering black volcanic sands.

Expert Tip

From June to November, visitors will have ample opportunities to spot humpback whales in the town’s surrounding waters.

The island is also a superb destination for diving and snorkeling, with its coral reefs attracting loads of fish.

16. Taboga

Taboga

Billed as the “island of flowers”, this popular weekend retreat is just about an hour away from Panama City.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Don’t have enough time to venture into Bocas del Toro?

Then, indulge in a satisfying beach trip to Taboga Island.

Dazzling beaches aside, the island is also steeped in history, and was once visited by conquistadors and pirates.

Not to mention, the island offers nature walks and boat tours for snorkeling, whale watching and fishing.

Expert Tip

Add an element of adventure to your beach escape by hiking any of the island’s scenic trails.

Our favorite is Cerro de la Cruz, which has a 300-meter-high peak and a large stone cross.

Once you’re at the top, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the cerulean waters and colorful town.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Taboga Palace SPA Hotel

17. Playa Venao

Playa Venao

Stretching for 1.8 miles, this crescent-shaped beach is situated on Azuero Peninsula’s south coast.

Why We Recommend This Beach

Playa Venao is one of the best beaches in Panama for surfers.

With waves coming in a variety of sizes, this beach is a superb spot to learn this sport.

And, even if you’re not into surfing, you’ll still enjoy relaxing on its golden sands while watching the surfers battle the waves.

Expert Tip

The town has an array of accommodation options, ranging from luxurious hotels to backpacker lodges.

To snag a cheap accommodation deal, though, we recommend that you stay in the nearby town of Pedasi.

Recommended Hotel Nearby: Selina Playa Venao

Beachgoer Guide

Comparing Beaches: Which One Is Right For You?

Traveling to Panama without visiting its beautiful beaches would be like having a cake without the icing – something’s just missing.

Picking the right beach depends on your budget and personal preferences.

Comparing options before making a decision can save you a world of difference.

For the adventurous, San Blas Islands offers a unique, untouched paradise.

From my experience, the archipelago’s 365 islands each have their own character, allowing you to experience something new every day.

If luxury and relaxation are your thing, the stunning Red Frog Beach with its high-end resorts will be your slice of heaven.

I recall lounging on the beach, watching my kids build sandcastles while sipping on a tropical cocktail.

Meanwhile, Starfish Beach offers simplicity and tranquility that will not break the bank.

I remember how the kids squealed in delight at the sight of starfish in crystal-clear water, a cherished memory indeed.

How I Picked The Beach Spots

As a travel writer, I have cultivated a process to identify the finest sandy retreats in Panama.

First, I engaged with locals, collecting their insights and suggestions, gleaning precious insider knowledge that often eludes the casual traveler.

Next, I carried out a meticulous online research to compare, contrast and verify these suggestions.

This process ensured that the beaches I highlighted truly represent the best that Panama has to offer.

Our Beach Rating Method

I rate these beaches based on the following criteria:

  • Family-Friendliness: I use this to evaluate if the beach is ideal for families with children. Does the beach offer kid-friendly activities and playgrounds? Does the beach have shallow waters and gentle waves? I ask myself these questions when I rate the family-friendliness criterion.
  • Safety: This is used to assess the safety of every beach destination. Are there lifeguards manning the beach? Does it have safety equipment? What are the other safety measures at the beach? I consider these factors when evaluating the safety of every beach.
  • Amenities: I use it to evaluate the quality and availability of facilities on every beach. Is it equipped with restrooms, showers, and changing rooms? Does it have ample parking? These questions are important whenever I rate the amenities of each beach.
  • Water Quality: This evaluates the cleanliness and clarity of the water at the beach. Are there algae in the water? Is the water safe and clean enough for swimming and other activities? I ask myself these questions in order to rate the beach’s water quality.
  • Accessibility: This measures how accessible the beach is for visitors. How far is it from the major cities? Is it easily accessible by public transportation? Is the beach wheelchair accessible? I use these questions to evaluate the accessibility of every beach.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Side Of Panama Has The Best Beaches?

The Caribbean side of Panama is known for having some of the best beaches in the country, with popular destinations such as Bocas del Toro and San Blas Islands offering pristine white sands, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life.

Where Is The Prettiest Beach In Panama?

One of the prettiest beaches in Panama is Playa Blanca, located on the Pacific coast near the town of Rio Hato. With its powdery white sand, turquoise waters, and picturesque surroundings, Playa Blanca is a popular spot for relaxation and beach activities.

Are There Any Good Beaches In Panama?

Yes, Panama is home to several stunning beaches. Whether you prefer the Pacific or Caribbean coast, you can find beautiful beaches throughout the country. Some notable destinations include Bocas del Toro, San Blas Islands, Santa Catalina, and Contadora Island.

Where Is The Clearest Water In Panama?

The San Blas Islands, located on the Caribbean side of Panama, are renowned for their incredibly clear and pristine waters. The archipelago consists of over 300 islands and cays, where you can find transparent turquoise waters teeming with colorful coral reefs and marine life.

Conclusion

Having visited the best beaches in Panama, I’m excited to say that the San Blas Islands are our number one choice.

Every beach in Panama is special in its own way.

Red Frog Beach is great for those who love luxury and relaxation, while Starfish Beach is perfect if you’re after peace and quiet on a budget.

But the San Blas Islands stand out with their stunning natural beauty and rich local culture.

Each island offers a new adventure every day, from pristine white sands to crystal-clear turquoise waters.

Plus, you’ll get to learn about the Guna Yala people and their way of life.

So if you’re planning a family trip that combines beautiful scenery, learning about different cultures, and lots of fun, the San Blas Islands should be at the top of your list.

Panama Beaches

San Blas Islands

Nestled in the Carribean side, these 365 islands boast some of the best beach spots in Panama.

  • Family-Friendliness: 5/5
  • Safety: 4/5
  • Amenities: 3/5
  • Water Quality: 5/5
  • Accessibility: 3/5