Discovering Panama’s Best Beaches From The City Beaches To Los Islotes On The Azuero Coast

The Great Panama City Escape

Among Panama’s biggest assets are its beaches.

I have to confess that it’s been months since I stepped foot on one of them. You take for granted what’s on your doorstep.

So, as Lief and I prepare for two months of travel in Europe starting next week, we’ve bugged out of Panama City this weekend to soak up some Panamanian sunshine on this country’s Veraguas coast. Give me the crashing Pacific over the lapping Caribbean any day. We traveled out to our property at Los Islotes Friday afternoon with a simple R&R agenda.

The experience of leaving Panama City on a Friday afternoon is a metaphor for escape. The streets of Panama’s capital are clogged with traffic and noisy with beating horns every day of the week except Sunday, but on Friday afternoons, when every resident who’s able gets in his car and heads across the Bridge of the Americas and then west on the Pan-American Highway to beaches near and far, Panama City traffic becomes the stuff of urban legend.

When you finally make it over the bridge to the other side of the canal and reach the open highway, the feeling of relief is palpable. City high-rises give way to fields of sugarcane and then to rolling hills to the horizon. Most leaving Panama City on Friday afternoons are headed for the “City Beaches,” as they’re called, the string of resorts and developments that line the Pacific coast starting about an hour outside the capital.

Our destination was beyond. Resorts aren’t our style, and we appreciate elbow room. To get to our favorite beach in Panama, you travel the Pan-American Highway to the town of Santiago then turn left and continue down the west coast of the Azuero Peninsula, past Mariato, past Torio, past Quebro… to Los Islotes.

I’ve mentioned this property to you before. It’s a personal undertaking for Lief and me, a family legacy project that will take years to develop as we intend. This weekend we’ve met with our builder regarding the Founder’s Lodge under construction and toured the property with Property Manager Gary Moseley, who has been eager to show off his infrastructure progress. Otherwise, we’ve been wandering at will, exploring the small towns and undiscovered beaches of this coastal region that captivated our imaginations so completely seven years ago when we first set eyes on it and that is now beginning to attract broader attention.

Mother Nature pulled out all the stops here. The Pacific pounds the rocky, craggy coast in some spots and meets the shore more gently in others, creating opportunities for both surfers and swimmers. Just inland are hills that fall, in places, directly into the ocean. Everywhere you look is another “million-dollar view”… as the local real estate types put it.

Atop this, Lief and I are layering the best the 21st century has to offer, including comfortable abodes in the Spanish-colonial style with modern finishes and services, underground utilities, and wireless Internet. The Founder’s Lodge is the first structure, and we’re finalizing plans for the first condos.

Big things ahead for Los Islotes. This weekend, though, Lief and I are content to sit quietly and soak up the views…

Kathleen Peddicord