Historically known as transit country because of the canal which runs through it’s center, Panama has a lot to offer tourists looking for a good holiday. Along with the canal, it’s filled with lush forests and it’s the perfect place to go and see some wildlife. Of course, Panama also has some pretty amazing beaches too.
Also, take a look at the best beaches in Guatemala. So which beaches in Panama should you go and see? Here are some of the top ones in the country to check out.
Best Beaches in Panama
Beaches in Panama are often thought to be of a lesser quality when compared to those in the Caribbean. Beaches in Panama are often very far away from civilization, and are usually surrounded by wildlife.
You can find beaches for all tastes: Beaches with warm water, beaches that are easy to get to, or even difficult-to-reach deserted beaches. Beaches on islands require one to take a boat trip or go by foot; Beaches on mainland Panama are an option for those who want to practice extreme sports like surfing.
Zapatilla Islands, Bocas del Toro
In a small group of islands in the North West of Panama, pretty close to it’s border with Costa Rica, you’ll find the Zapatilla Islands. These small pair of islands are relatively untouched, and are considered as having the beaches beaches Panama has to offer.
Here, you’ll find two islands, quite simply referred to as North Cayo Zapatilla and South Cayo Capatilla, with the Southern island being around twice the size of the North one. You’ll need to take around a 90 minute boat ride out to the Zapatillas if you want to spend the day there.
And once you’re there, you’re going to have a very secluded island for you to explore. If you do want to visit and explore the island, then you will find some interesting things there, live underwater caves and healthy coral around the island. For this reason, it’s a really popular destination for those that was to go snorkelling, as there’s the chance to see some amazing tropical fish here.
Though most people only spend a day here, it is possible for you to camp on one of the islands and stay overnight. For those looking for a secluded getaway, then visiting the Zapatilla islands should be high on your bucket list in Panama.
Red Frog Beach
Another island in this same area is Bastimentos island, lying just to the North of the island. And on the North side of this small island, you’ll find Red Frog Beach, which is the perfect place to come, relax and learn more about nature.
The jungle here is pretty beautiful, and although there’s not a ton of different animals here, you might catch the odd sloth climbing up in the trees. More interesting though is the marine life, with coral reefs surrounding the island. This is another very popular place to go diving in Panama.
The water here can get pretty rough, so it isn’t the best place to come and swim if you’ve got kids or weaker swimmers with you. Although the name may lead you to think that this is an entirely secluded beach, there are several hotels and bars here for you to frequent. So, it’s not quite as secluded as other islands surrounding Panama. This is a great place to come if you want to get a good experience of both the beach and the jungle. and it remains one of the better islands to visit in general.
Although most of the islands of Panama lie to the North of the island, not all of them are. Just South of the mainland you’ll find Isla Coiba, another great Panamanian island that’s definitely worth visiting.
If you’re looking for a good internet connection and phone signal, then this isn’t going to be the right place for you. However, if you’re looking to get away from everything and unplug for a while, then Island Coiba is going to be the perfect place for you to visit. Here, you’re completely secluded from everything, with only the island to explore.
And as you’d probably expect, this is another haven for snorkellers and more so for divers, as you can dive to a deep distance here. If you’ve ever fancied swimming with the whales, then this is a great place to do this. The large coral reef here is one of the largest this side of the island, so there’s a lot of stuff to explore here. Barracudas, parrotfish and sharks can all be seen here.
The beach here is actually used as a research center to learn more about marine life, and the rest of the island is pretty much unexplored. This island is much larger than most other islands off the coast of Central America, and it’s a great place to come if you get the chance.
Playa Santa Catalina
Though many of the best beaches that are in Panama are on the beaches that surround the mainland, you can find some great beaches within the mainland of Panama itself. One example of this is Playa Santa Catalina. This beach is located within the small fishing village of Santa Catalina. which is a chilled out small town that attracts many surfers and other backpackers each year. There are different places and beaches to surf here depending on your skill level and preference.
The volcanic black sand might not look like what you’re using to on the other coast, but it definitely gives the beaches here an interesting look. It’s typically not so busy here either, so it’s definitely a good place to come if you’re trying to get away from the crowds. This beach is as popular with the locals coming down for a swim as it is with tourists, and it’s a great place to visit if you get a chance.
If you’re thinking about visiting Panama city and you’d like to get away to a great beach for a day or two, then considering Isla Contadora is a smart move. It’s off the South coast, and you can get a ferry to this island in around 90 minutes, so it could make for a great day out.
This island only has around 250 inhabitants, and it’s often visited by some of the wealthier Panamanian families, making it quite expensive to stay on the island itself, however the area plenty of accommodation choices here. Whilst there are some good bars on Isla Contadora, it doesn’t have a busy nightlife like some other islands. Above everything else, the most important thing is that the beaches here are pretty amazing. around the island there are eleven different beaches for you to explore.
Overall, Panama is actually very underrated when it comes to beaches and especially snorkelling, as it has some of the best reefs in Central America. It’s a great place to holiday, with pretty reasonable prices and some amazing places to see.