Pedasi is one of Panama’s most authentic and charming small towns. Located at the southeast corner of the Azuero Peninsula, Pedasi is situated in a golden corner of this country, within a few minutes of hidden white-sand beaches and undiscovered rocky headlands. The town itself, with a population of about 2,000, has the atmosphere of a village. It’s big enough to be a viable lifestyle option, but small enough to make you feel like you’re an active stakeholder in a growing community.
Entering Pedasi is like taking a step back in time. The local population is friendly and hospitable. People here go out of their way to be helpful. The region is one of the most traditional and folkloric in Panama. Baseball is an important pastime and is taken seriously in these parts. And, once a year, the small town is invaded by tens of thousands of Carnival-goers. Otherwise, it’d be hard to imagine a sleepier outpost.
The Azuero Peninsula constitutes Panama’s southernmost landmass. Jutting into the Pacific, the peninsula in general and Pedasi in particular are an excellent staging post for forays into the Pacific. This is the country’s “tuna coast,” and just offshore are big numbers of yellow-fin tuna. The waters around Pedasi yield both inshore and offshore fish species. Within a few minutes of town you can catch sailfish, red and cubera snapper, marlin, Spanish mackerel, roosterfish, amberjack, mahi-mahi, grouper and wahoo in season.
Pedasi is also considered one of the best places for witnessing the annual migration of the humpback whale. During the season (June to November), you could watch the spectacle from your kitchen window.
This coast is well known in surfing circles, and two world surfing championships have been hosted at nearby Playa Venao in recent years. Venao’s break is year-round.
Back on land, dense maritime jungles and rain forest are home to a myriad of flora and fauna. Fresh water cascades from the mountains in spectacular waterfalls. Rivers meander from the foothills down to the shore. Ask the locals, and they can show you where to pan in these rivers for gold.
This eastern shore of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula offers a view of the sunrise over the Gulf of Panama and enjoys almost constant sea breezes, providing a break from the humidity of some parts of the country.
Foreign retirees began discovering Pedasi about five years ago, and more people are taking up residence part time or year-round. As a result, services and amenities are developing to support the emerging expat marketplace. There are small and medium-sized supermarkets, two bakeries, a dulceria (a Panamanian cake shop), several restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and hotels. The region is primarily agricultural, and it is therefore possible to find high quality fresh produce of all kinds. In addition, Pedasi has a public health clinic, two banks, a public library, and a small clothes shop selling surf and beach wear. You can get by day to day without traveling beyond the town’s borders.
However, for bigger shopping and more services, Chitré is just an hour away and offers the amenities of a medium-sized city, including several good hotels and a wide range of restaurants serving both local and good quality international food. Panama’s largest national supermarket chains have big outlets in Chitré, making it a good place to stock up on staples.
You’re also just four to five hours away (depending on traffic) from Panama City, the biggest and most cosmopolitan city in Central America and a major shopping and banking center. In Pedasi, though, the big city seems very far away. This is the kind of small town where the locals sit outside their houses in rocking chairs and leave their doors open to the street. The old men still wear the traditional leather sandals and black and white straw hats. Women of all ages wear embroidered white pollera dresses during festivals, especially the annual Carnival celebration, which is a big deal in this part of the country.
This is a wholesome, genuine and authentic place. It’s the kind of place you might doubt still exists anywhere in the world and an ideal place to embrace a quiet, simple beach lifestyle in retirement, even on a modest budget. A couple could retire well here on as little as US$1,750 per month, including US$500 a month for the rental of a three-bedroom home.