Panama is a country that lies between two continents and two oceans with a rich culture and an amazing history.
It is among the most beautiful countries in Latin America, and its coastline adds to this beauty with breathtaking beaches.
The climate is amazing with summer being the predominant season all year round with some bit of rainfall in other months.
As a tourist destination, it has some of the best-kept secrets for beach lovers looking for tranquility, peace, and relaxation.
From Panama City to David, this nation’s beauty can be found virtually everywhere. If you’re looking to get away from the crowds with your family, friends or colleagues, here are six of the best beaches you can visit in Panama.
- Santa Catalina
- The San Blas Archipelago
- Cayos Zapatilla, Bocas del Toro
- Starfish Beach, Bocas del Toro
- Playa Venao, Azuero Peninsula
- Red Frog Beach
Best Beaches in Panama MAP
Related: Best beaches in Costa Rica
The name may sound familiar because of the Catalina Islands in Los Angeles, California, but don’t worry, these are two different places. Santa Catalina is a small and mellow fishing village situated outside Panamanian surfers.
Santa Catalina, today, is a burgeoning surfing and fishing hotspot, but not just for the locals because it is on the Panamanian Highway 1.
The south side of the highway has a beautiful area of beaches and a lovely little town with plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops. If you are in Panama, Santa Catalina is where you go surfing or fishing. Surfers will find some great waves, including perennial favorites Caballito and El Tamarindo. In addition, surfing Santa Catalina also offers excellent opportunities for boat fishing as several mangroves within a few hundred meters of this beach make it ideal for fly fishing. It also allows you to launch your standup paddleboard or take a kayak trip from the beach to Isla Catalina.
Why Recommend this Beach?
It is excellent for getaway fishing and perfect for the surfers out there. Moreover, the area is not crowded; it’s peaceful and quiet, so you can go to the beach with your family and enjoy yourself without any worries. Cost: This beach is on the “budget.”
Where to Stay?
In Santa Catalina, there is no accommodation other than the camping spots in the nearby town of Estero Hondo. So if you are planning on staying a few days or a couple of weeks, we don’t recommend it. You can also find accommodations in Panama City, but they may be more expensive than Estero Hondo.
The San Blas Archipelago
This archipelago of islands is located in the Caribbean Sea, east of Panama, and it is known for snorkeling. The San Blas Islands have been an extremely remote, undeveloped, unspoiled destination that has remained a mystery. The indigenous Guna people are descendants of the Kunas who live on these islands.
Europeans first arrived at the San Blas Islands back in 1503 but little did they know, it would take more than 400 years before anyone else set foot on these islands again. Back then, they were known as “Islas de Escudo” and only later renamed after their indigenous inhabitants. Today, foreign travelers are allowed to visit these islands and experience local life with a Guna family.
The San Blas beach dazzle with its power and beauty. Don’t be afraid of its vastness; enjoy the fascinating color of its waters and its white sands. The San Blas archipelago is one of the best-kept natural secrets globally, a paradise of turquoise seas and white beaches that no tourist has ever visited.
Why Recommend this Beach?
The San Blas Islands are one of the best places in Panama to go snorkeling. In addition to having some of the best beaches in Panama for snorkeling, you can also enjoy day and night cruises, fishing, and tours with Guna families. These tours are fascinating to visitors that have never seen the Guna people before. The San Blas Islands are located on the Panamanian Highway 1, near Gamboa (also called El Chorrillo), and they can be easily reached by bus or boat from most major cities in Panama.
Cayos Zapatilla, Bocas del Toro
The Cayos Zapatillas or Zapatilla Keyes is a group of islets located in the Caribbean Sea, off mainland Panama in the Bocas del Toro Province. They are a top-rated destination for backpackers and budget travelers who want to explore the area by boat or kayak. This is the best beach to take photos of at Bocas del Toro.
Unlike the beautiful beaches on the islands, the Cayos Zapatilla has a very rocky and rough coastline. However, it has earned a reputation as one of Panama’s most beautiful beaches because of its water and immaculate white sand. The water here is calm and inviting for swimming and snorkeling, with large schools of brightly colored fish that make this place stunning.
Reasons for Recommending this Beach
The Zapatilla Islands are an ocean area to be highly recommended because of its deep blue-green marine waters and white sand beaches. The San Blas archipelago is also a top-rated destination for backpackers who want to go scuba diving or love the calm, clear waters and beautiful scenery. Therefore, if you plan to go to Bocas del Toro as a tourist, make sure you also check out these two areas.
Starfish Beach, Bocas del Toro
The beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Panama, with white dunes and rustic beach-style cabanas. It is a great place to swim, snorkel and make friends with the local fish and manatees. Starfish Beach is a wide-open beach with many people walking on it or running along its shoreline.
The beach sits directly on the Indian River, emptying into Bocas Bay. It makes for one of the best places to go to relax and take in some sun. It is located near the Boca del Drago beach on the main island of Isla Colon. It is a great place to go if you want to do some hiking as there are over 100 steps up the island. It is perfect for swimming and admiring sea stars as its waters are shallow and translucent.
Reasons for Recommending this beach
The beach is located in the Bocas del Toro, a sub-district of Panama City, and it’s one of the most beautiful, laid-back places to visit. There are no lights on the shore, plenty of mangroves, a fresh sea breeze, and a calming marine atmosphere. It has palm trees that provide more contrast in color and the required shade. It’s an ideal place to go if you want to see some wildlife in its natural habitat, as Starfish is home to over 1,000 manatees.
To reach the mangroves, you can either use the floating chairs, ride a kayak or use the water bikes which add to the fun and thrill of visiting this beach. The journey only takes about an hour.
Playa Venao, Azuero Peninsula
Playa Venao is located off the main highway in the eastern end of Panama City with easy access to the beaches of Talamanca Park and other attractions,15 minutes from Puerto Angel. With seven kilometers of golden sand beach, an abundance of campsites with clean water, and ample seafood restaurants, this beach is a popular choice for tourists who come down to Panama City to visit the islands.
Venao is also an excellent place to watch dolphins, snorkel, and hike because all of this can be done right from one location.
It is regarded as one of the best-surfing destinations in Panama. This is the best beach to make friends with the monkeys in abundance on the beach and are very curious about humans. It has backpacker lodges, luxury hotels on the beach, and cheap places in Pedasi town for accommodation purposes.
The journey between Playa Venao and Pedasi is approximately 34 km with options to either travel by car or by bus.
Why recommend this beach?
• It is situated in a great location
• It has beautiful white sand
• The beach is children friendly and safe
• The beach stretches about 18 KM long hence more room to enjoy yourself with no crowding.
Red Frog Beach
If you have not been to Panama City or need a break from all the hustle and bustle, this little village is just the place for you! It is a sleepy little town with a beautiful beach, untouched by modern civilization. The largest islet on which Red Frog lies is shaped like a giant frog, hence its name.
It was first built in 1877 by Irish settlers; a hurricane eventually destroyed it in 1905. It was rebuilt again in 1957 by Manuel Freyre Ferrer, who had it rebuilt mainly because of its connection to his dear late mother. This beach is famous, but it does not feel crowded, even though you can find many people walking around.
Red Frog Beach is also a great place to watch monkeys, parrots, and other wildlife. The sandy beach of Red Frog is one of the most beautiful beaches in Panama, with white sands and gentle waves. It’s an excellent place for scuba diving and snorkeling, too, as it has many sea turtles, rays, eels, sea horses, and countless types of fish. The best time to go to this beach is between May-October as it receives the least amount of tourist trips due to its remoteness.
Why Recommend this Beach?
• The beach is a hidden gem
• Many people visit the island to swim and snorkel, making the beaches full of life because of its clear waters.
• The sunset from the beach is breathtaking
• The sea is clean and has a protective barrier, thus making it ideal for swimming and snorkeling
• There is a lovely walk down to the beach, passing by the pretty little cottages on stilts.
If you’re looking for beautiful beaches in Panama, this is the list to choose from. Panama beaches are getting more and more popular with tourists and backpackers year after year because of their crystalline waters, white sand, palm trees, and tranquility. Many have been described as the best beach in Central America.
Regardless of which beach you choose from the list above, it’s guaranteed that your vacation will be 100% enjoyable. Many backpackers love this place, and they are never bored of it. Whether you choose one of the beautiful beaches in Panama or you prefer to go to the islands, it doesn’t matter because this country has something for everyone. It’s also an excellent place for tourists who want to enjoy different activities such as swimming, fishing, diving, surfing, and much more.
Are you planning a trip to Central America? Ensure you visit these beaches when you get to Panama. I hope you enjoy it!