Azuero Peninsula Southeast Beaches

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Azuero Peninsula Southeast Beaches

Exploring the beaches on the southeast side of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula

The southeastern tip of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula is home to a string of beautiful beaches. Fine yellowish-tan to charcoal-coloured sand stretches along expanses you can easily have all to yourself. The area is popular with surfers, but, as I discovered while exploring from a home base in the small town of Pedasi, one needn’t be a surfer to enjoy the beaches. (I am not a surfer.) The water is warm. The sounds of the waves soothe. The view of the Pacific Ocean is good for the soul. And the breeze off the ocean offers an almost cool respite from the heat.

There are a few things to note about the beaches in the area. Some border resorts and some have restaurants but many have no facilities at all. You need to bring your own water and refreshments. Shade can be hard to find. And you need to be aware of the tides. They make a big difference at some beaches. There is a seventeen foot difference between low and high tide. There are two high tides a day, approximately six and a quarter hours apart. This means that high tide is approximately a half hour later each day. There are a number of online sites which provide exact timings of low and high tides. They also provide wind and surfing conditions.

These are the beaches I discovered:

Playa Arenal, Pedasi

Playa Arenal, Pedasi

Playa Arenal is the beach closest to town. On the grassy area above the beach is a restaurant which serves great fish (among other items) and offers shade. There are toilet facilities behind the restaurant.

This is the beach used by fishermen. It is also the most accessible place from which to reach Isla Iguana, part of the Isla Iguana Wildlife Refuge. The island is 8 km from shore and can take 15 to 20 minutes to reach by boat. It is home to rare birds, iguanas, and crabs. Several species of sea turtles return here each year to lay their eggs. It is a great snorkeling spot. There are no facilities on the island. You need to take your own water and anything else you might need. And you need to carefully time your visit. Wind conditions can make the crossing rough or too dangerous to undertake. This is most common in January through March. Boats may be unable to land at low tide, which could leave you stranded on the island longer than anticipated. There is a $10 USD fee for tourists to enter the island. This is in addition to fees to hire a boat. Passage can be arranged with local fishermen or through tour operators like Pedasi Tours or Pedasi Sports Club, who also offer sport fishing tours. (Disclosure: I did not visit Isla Iguana. I love the beaches and being by the ocean, but am uncomfortable on the open water in small boats.)

Isla Iguana in the distance
Isla Iguana in the distance

Playa Arenal is a five minute drive from the gas station at the north end of Pedasi. It is a thirty to forty-five minute walk from town. It is a level and straightforward walk, although afternoon heat might make it grueling. A cab from town centre cost us $2.50 USD. At low tide, you can walk along the beach from Playa Arenal to Playa El Toro.

Playa El Toro, Pedasi

Playa El Toro, Pedasi, Panama

Playa El Toro is cited as a great surfing beach with left and right rock bottom break points. There are no facilities here. There is a restaurant up from the beach, but I’ve been told its hours are inconsistent. I was here early in the morning before it opened.

Road leading to Playa El Toro
Road leading to Playa El Toro

Playa El Toro is a couple of kilometres east of Pedasi. Streets on other side of the town square lead to the road out of town toward the beach. Partway there is a fork in the road. One fork takes you to Playa El Toro. It took us somewhere between thirty-five and forty-five minutes to walk here at a leisurely pace.

Banos on the beach
The only kind of toilet facilities I found at Playa El Toro

Playa Garita, Pedasi

Playa Garita, Pedasi, Panama

If you take the other fork in the road you get to Playa Garita. It is bordered by rocks and has a short hike on a dirt path to get to it. There are calm spots to swim and surf. Again, no facilities. And a good chance you can have it as private beach.

The road to Playa Garita is through countryside with fields of cattle on either side, but near the beach are two new housing developments, gated communities of upscale homes. Both still have less than half of the development complete. Within Andromeda, one of the communities, is Los Vientos Beach Club. It features an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, a bar and a restaurant, a game and social area, and weekly events. It costs $25 USD per family for non-members to spend the day here.

Los Vientos Beach Club, Pedasi, Panama

Los Vientos Beach Club, Pedasi, Panama
Bar and restaurant at Los Vientos

We paid $5 USD for a cab between Pedasi and Los Vientos Beach Club.

Playa de los Destiladeros

Playa de Los Destiladeros is a brown sanded beach with lots of palm trees. It is also cited as a good surfing beach with fantastic views across the ocean. We did not spend time at the beach here, but instead came for dinner and the views at sunset from Villa Romano resort. This was truly a romantic spot.

Villa Romano
Villa Romano

Sunset from Villa Romana

To reach Playa de Los Destiladeros bear right at the fork at the village of Limón, 3 km south of Pedasi, and go 7 km. The cab ride to Villa Roman from Pedasi town cost us $12 USD.

Playa Venao

Playa Venao, Panama

Playa Venao may be the area’s best known surfing spot. providing waves for both beginners and experienced surfers. The protected bay has strong waves in the centre and is calm and smooth at the ends. Even for us non-surfers this was a favourite spot. There are a couple of boutique hotels with restaurants along the beach offering great food and beautiful views. Prices are on the higher side (tourist prices) and more comparable to American prices.

Playa Venao
We found shady spots to lounge (with bar and food facilities) at a surf club at one end of the beach
Surfer at Playa Venao
Surfer catching a wave

Play Venao is 35 km southwest of Pedasi and 8 km east of Cañas. We took the local bus to get there. Two buses a day run between Pedasi and Cañas. A third bus running between Las Tablas and Cañas goes through Pedasi. The bus ride took 55 minutes and cost us a little over $2 USD each.


Playita, Panama

Playita is a private resort near Playa Venao. Lester, the owner, is a Panamanian who worked for a while as a jockey in the U.S. He returned to Panama and built this resort. As he ate lunch at the table next to us, he told us he would rather live in Panama than make money in the States. For $5 USD for adults and $2 USD for children, non-guests can spend the day at the beach here.

This was the calmest beach we found, great for swimming, although there are stones and shells to step over to get into the water. There is shade, places to sit and lounge, toilet facilities, an outdoor shower, and a restaurant.

Playita resort

The resort itself is a little quirky, but attractive. Shaded areas include benches with tiled mosaics. There is a mini-zoo. Lester has collected a variety of animals who run free in the upper area, away from the beach. Emus, iguanas, deer, macaws, and howler monkeys. And Lester is partial to chihuahua dogs. Several sat around his feet as he ate lunch.

Playita animals

Playita is 1 km down a dirt road off the main road just east of Playa Venoa. There is a signpost indicating the turn-off. If you are prepared to walk the kilometre, you can take the same bus as you would take to get to Playa Venoa. Unsure of exactly where the resort was, we took a cab from Pedasi. The cab cost us $25 USD. We took the bus back to Pedasi.

These are a few of the more accessible beaches but there are many other beaches in the area. Have you visited one of these beaches? Have you discovered other beaches in the area?

Horse on beach Panama

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  1. Interesting how it looks in Panama. Like Northern Europe with palm trees. If you remove the palms nature looks like Southern Sweden or Denmark. Needless to say we don’t have the animals in the pictures apart from in zoos and private collections. Villa Romana seems like a nice place to stay.

    1. Catarina, I’ve not been to Sweden or Denmark, but it sounds as if they must have some lovely beaches.

  2. Very interesting! One thing that strikes me is how fine the sand looks. Like you, I think the sound of the ocean soothes the soul…looks like the same for the Southeast Beaches of the Azuero Peninsula.

  3. Donna, I really like the photo you start out with – and the one of the road leading to Playa El Toro – and the last one of the horseback rider. Those all have a ‘touch of quiet’ which appeals to me. I rather like the one of the big rocks and can well believe that you could have that beach to yourself. Actually, all the photos are wonderful so thanks for sharing. I love my armchair trips with you.

    1. Lenie, I love the words “touch of quiet” to describe these beaches. Very apt. I’m always glad to have you travel with me in your armchair.

  4. Looks wonderful. It wouldn’t take much to have me plunk myself down at Los Vientos in one of those lounges in the water and look around for my next cocktail. 🙂

  5. All of these beaches in Azuero peninsula look lovely, but Playa de Los Destiladeros particularly calls to me! It looks like you could go to a different beach every day for months, and even if you don’t surf, it’s always fun to watch surfers!

  6. You’ve shown one of the best reasons to visit Panama and why it was near the top on our list of places to retire to. We visited the beaches on both the Atlantic and Pacific side of Panama and the beaches of the Azuero Peninsula by far and away the best – stunning! Also amazing were the huge tides that you mentioned. We stayed in Guarare and depending on the time of the day, there would be miles of deserted beach to walk or waves lapping at the owner’s rock seawall. The perfect definition of paradise! Anita

    1. Anita, I’ve spent most of my life in the middle of the continent, miles and miles away from oceans, and tides always fascinate me.

    1. Michele, Playita wasn’t on my radar before I went to Panama. We heard about it from another tourist we met. That was in our last week there. I wish we’d found out about it earlier on. We would have spent more time there.

  7. The beaches do look calm and peaceful. That infinity pool looks great too. It’s really affordable for the entire family to use the pool. Beautiful sunset pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Oh to be close to a beach – with sun!

    The first and second photograph captured me. There is nothing quite like being by the beach; the sand in your toes, the roaring sea and the cool breeze. Here in the UK, we eat fish and chips by the sea which taste far better than the ones served at your local. Perhaps it is all in the mind………….

    1. Pnoenicia, I’ve had fish and chips by the sea in the U.K. and I agree, whether it is all in the mind or not, that they taste better there.

    1. Thanks Doreen. Hopefully it’s not too long now until the snow disappears and it warms up so you can enjoy the beaches in your area.

  9. The beaches of Pedasi are absolutely beautiful. My happy place is the beach, so if I were in that part of Panama, I would want to check out as many as possible. I would probably have a more limited visit at the ones with no facilities. Just knowing that there wasn’t an option would make me have to go!

    1. Erica, I really appreciated the quiet and the number of uncrowded beaches you could have almost to yourself, but I also do appreciate the facilities that come with the more crowded beaches I was used to.

    1. Noel, I don’t know how much the banos I photographed are actually used, but I agree they are a little scary.

  10. Panama was just a place I’d heard of that “has a canal.” Now I have been introduced to some of its beautiful beaches and interesting animals. Thank you, Donna.

    Tides are a fascinating business and, I imagine, especially for a “middle of the continent” person. From one of the beaches in your pictures, I see big rocks. Are they near enough the incoming tide to have tidal (rock) pools form? When my kids were little, they loved the tidal pools on the beaches of Hornby Island. Lots of life teems–sea stars, teeny crabs, mussels, anemones, etc. My kids used to collect even more critters, toss them into the pool and, with a big stick for a spoon, busy themselves “making soup.” Thanks to your post, I’ve enjoyed some fun memories. 🙂

    1. Ramona, when we could we timed our beach visits around low tide so we’d have more beach. I don’t know if rock pools formed when the tide was in. The tide pools on Hornby Island sound like so much fun for your children.

    1. Veronica, I’ve re-lived the trip as I’ve created the posts and that has made me want to go back.

  11. The Panamanian beaches pictured here make me hungry for the sun to warm up just a wee bit more. The most relaxing picture of all is the one of the infinity pool with the chairs sitting in the water. I could really use the hot sun and a soft breeze and calm waters right now. It’s been a long Monday 😉

    1. Jeri, hopefully things warm up soon., Wishing you a hot sun, a soft breeze and calm waters. And a better Tuesday.

    1. Susan, many of the beaches were empty and had long stretches of sand at low tide, but I never got a desolate feeling. I need shade too, so was happy to find places where we could spend time under cover (Playa Venao and Playita).

  12. Wonderful photos Donna and I suddenly realized while enjoying them just how long it’s been since I’ve set foot on a beach. The funny thing is I see the ocean from my deck, but I’m just always so busy I forget to take time to just go and spend time there. Thanks for the lovely tour and great reminder!

  13. The photos, and your descriptions, are serene. I felt your leisurely pace through this mini-tour. I wouldn’t do well in the spots without facilities, though. My days of roughing it are long over!

  14. Wonderful photos, Donna. I had a grand-nephew who lived in Panama for a year and loved it. It seems just looking at your photos that Panama is less developed than many other Caribbean countries — a simplicity that isn’t excessively commercialized.

    1. Jeanette, Panama is quite developed in some areas. Although infrastructure is generally good, other areas, such as the rural Azuero Peninsula, have retained a slower, simpler way of life.

  15. You are making me want to go back to Panama. When I visited, I went to Playa Blanca which is kind of close to Panama City. I need to go back and discover more of the city.

    1. Ruth, I think there is a lot to explore in all areas of Panama. Hope you get back there some day.

  16. The beaches look very quiet and peaceful. That’s a big change from the beaches that I usually go to in Miami.

    1. Andrea, you certainly wouldn’t trip over bodies on any of these beaches. Even the busiest ones were very uncrowded.

  17. I love the rocks on Playa Garita – very different beach than I’ve ever seen! Looks so quiet at all the playas too – love that aspect! 🙂 Thank you for linking up with #WeekendWanderlust!

    1. Ashley, the beaches were all pretty quiet. The rocks at Garita at cool-looking and once you get past them there is a long stretch of flat beach.

  18. Great pictures and description of the beaches. The one thing I do miss about being in the Coast Guard was the ability to visit different places, especially seeing the beaches from around the world.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    1. William, it was nice you had the opportunity to see beaches around the world with the Coast Guard.

  19. Hi Donna,

    So many amazing beaches, the scenery is fantastic! The one with the animals is adorable! This is such a great post, thank you for all this interesting information!


  20. Playita resort and all the animals looks like a place I’d enjoy checking out. Panama sounds very reasonably priced, in general. I have been thinking more about trying to plan a trip here. I’d like to see how the scuba diving is there too.

    1. Debbra, we founds Panama to be reasonably priced. I’m not a scuba diver, but there are places one can scuba dive. I’ve read that the National Wildlife Refuge of Isla Iguana, south of Pedasi, is one of those places.