The 9 Best Beaches in Panama

The magnificent country of Panama and it’s surrounding islands is fast becoming the destination of choice for anyone that loves spending their holiday enjoying sun, sand and surf.  Situated between the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans, there are vast stretches of crystal clear water and white sandy beaches that are a haven to everyone that visits or lives here.

While surfing these amazing waters is the most popular sport in the country, sailing around the islands is also a thrill, and with the beautiful coral reefs teeming with many varieties of colorful marine species, diving and snorkeling are also fantastic ways to spend your time.

Contadora Island is only about 50 miles from Panama City and boasts 13 spectacular beaches as well as hotels, restaurants and shops of all sorts that cater you your every desire.  With the amazing stony coral reefs here, you will find the best scuba diving, snorkeling and even fishing can be enjoyed on this island.


The Best Beaches in Panama


1. El Palmar Beach

best beaches Panama
Flickr Credit: Matty Stevenson

El Palmar Beach is a terrific place for surfing with waves that can be equal to any around. It is a beautiful, rocky beach that is smaller and more secluded beach so is generally not as crowded as many others.  There are quiet stretches that are covered with some amazing black sand that you don’t see just any where.  There are rocks and caves that can be explored when you aren’t swimming and playing in the warm water.  One end of the beach is often more crowded, with a lot of fun going on all the time.


2. Playa Kobbe or Playa Bonita

best beaches Panama
Flickr Credit: J-Mass

Playa Kobbe or Playa Bonita as it is also known, is one of the closest beaches to Panama City. It is located on the other side of the Panama Canal however, which makes it’s water much more pristine.  You will probably be treated with the spectacle of some large ships headed to the Canal.  The beach lies on a beautiful cove that is surrounded by tropical forest.  If staying at one of the two local hotels, you will have full access and amenities that you could desire, and walk right out onto the beach from your rooms.  While all beaches are public property under Panamanian law, it is not as crowded as many other Panama beaches so can be much more serene and relaxing.  For that picturesque tropical beach vacation, this could just be the most ideal spot.

Related article: The 14 Best Beaches in Dominica


3. Playa Larga

best beaches Panama
Flickr Credit: Clockwork Gypsy

Playa Larga is located on the beautiful Contadora Island, and is the largest of the beaches on the island. It’s pristine white sand is as warm and inviting as any you could find anywhere in the world. This is one of the favorite beaches for the locals to hang out, so can be a very fun place to be.  The turquoise water is warm and calm, making it the perfect place to swim and play for people of all ages.  There is a shipwrecked ferry and a reef that are both make for a perfect place for snorkeling, where you will see a myriad of colorful tropical fish.  At one end of the shipwreck there is a natural pool that is a very fun place to swim and snorkel as well.  There is also an abandoned resort that is very interesting to explore.  If you are lucky, you may even spot a whale or two!


4. Comarca Kuna Yala

best beaches Panama
Flickr Credit: BORIS G

Comarca Kuna Yala, also known as the San Blas Islands, is located along the eastern Caribbean Coast of Panama, and is an archipelago made up of around 365 islands. With the idyllic surroundings of amazingly blue water, pristine white sand and swaying coconut palms, you will be tempted to stay on a different island each day of the year. Inhabited mainly by the indigenous Kuna people, the entire archipelago is a wonderful place to step back in time and enjoy the native land, people and wildlife.

Related article: The 13 Best Beaches in Puerto Rico


5. Isla Perro

best beaches Panama
Flickr Credit: KHUSI RAIAS

 Isla Perro (Dog Island) beach is located in the Kuna Yala archipelago and is one of the more famous beaches for international tourists. It has all of the warm white sand, crystal clear turquoise water and swaying palm trees that the area is so well known for. In addition there is a shipwrecked gunboat just off the shoreline that is a spectacular place for snorkeling.  The colorful varieties of coral and wide range of tropical marine life species that call this place home makes it one of the most popular places to visit. During low tide you can see the top of the rusty hull of the ship, which adds to the mystique of the island.

Related article: The 10 Best Beaches in India


6. Bocas del Toro

best beaches Panama
Flickr Credit: Laguna Azul Panama

 Bocas del Toro is another archipelago full of some of the most amazing beaches. Along with the many beaches, there is an abundance of native jungles, tropical forests and mangroves that make for some spectacular hiking, birdwatching and enjoying the natural wildlife and flora that abounds in the area. Back out in the crystal clear and warm waters of the Caribbean you will be treated to many coral reefs with rich, colorful displays of various types of coral as well as many varieties of aquatic life that make snorkeling one of the favorite past-times on these islands.


7. Bluff Beach

best beaches Panama
Flickr Credit: Yves

Bluff Beach is located on Isla Colon, the largest island in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, and is also one of the easiest to get to. If you are a surfer, this is one of the absolutely best beaches to head to.  The beach is very long, giving everyone ample room to enjoy the day on.  The waves here are very strong, creating some ideal surfing, but is also a much safer place to surf than beaches such as the nearby Dump, where the waves break close to a coral reef. The beach is also close to Bocas Town, where you will find all sorts of fun.

Related article: The Best Beaches in Philippines


8. Playa San Carlos

best beaches Panama
Flickr Credit: akeemc87

Playa San Carlos is very near Panama City, and is one of the first beaches people see after flying into the city. Whether you enjoy surfing, swimming, sailing or any other water sport you could imagine, you will find this one of the most ideal beaches in Panama where you can do it all. All of the amenities you could want are here that will help make this the most enjoyable and safe place to play for the whole family.  Shops are available for rental of any equipment you need, as well as food and drink vendors.  Play some beach volleyball or swing in a hammock stretched between a couple of palm trees while sipping your favorite tropical drink.  Watching a magnificent sunset while listening to some fun reggae music is the perfect way to end the day.


9. Playa Sueca

best beaches Panama
Flickr Credit: j.labrado

Playa Sueca, or Playa de las Suecas, is located on the beautiful Contadora Island, and is the premier place for anyone wanting to enjoy the beach au-naturale! It is one of only a hand full of beaches in Panama where it is ok to bare all, which makes it one of the best places on earth for nudists to take a wonderful tropical holiday. It also boasts of being one of the best beaches in Panama for diving and snorkeling, with coral reefs that are teeming with colorful marine life.  Swimming and playing in the warm waters here is such a special treat while in the nude, and one not soon to be forgotten.  With all of the amenities offered, you will not lack for anything.  This beach could easily become one of the best tropical vacations you could ever hope for, and one that you will want to return to year after year.

Also read:

Guide to Scuba Diving Panama



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