One of the best things about living in Panama City, Panama is that within 2 hours drive or ferry you can be sitting on your choice of beautiful Pacific or Caribbean white sand beach with crystalline waters. On the Pacific Coast you got Isla Taboga 30mins by ferry, the Islands of Las Perlas and Contadora 2 hours by ferry. Then you have all the local beaches like Veracruz, Punta Chame, Malibu, Gorgona, Coronado, El Palmar, Santa Clara, El Farallon and Playa Blanca all within 2 hours drive west of Panama City. On the Caribbean Coast, drive just 55kms North of the City on the Corridor Norte which will take you to Colon and the Portobelo Area and Isla Grande. Further to the west you have Playa Blanca and not to mention the archipelago of over 365 pristine islands in Guna Yala/San Blas.
#1 Isla Taboga
Taboga is the closest island escape to Panama City; only 30mins by ferry and a popular weekend destination for tourists and Panamanians. Taboga Express Fast Ferry leaves the Causeway Amador every hour starting at 8am and the last ferry leave’s Taboga at 4pm in the afternoon. The “Island of Flowers” as its known has plenty of shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and hostels. You can also contact the guys @Highlife Panama for your perfect private yacht charter, birthday party or corporate event to Taboga or Las Perlas.
#2 Punta Chame
Punta Chame, known as the best kite surfing beach in Panama, is only 1.5 hours drive from Panama City to the west across the Bridge of the Americas. The original location for Nitro City, the world’s first extreme sports resort, which has a cable wakeboard lake, a skate park, swimming pool, closed in 2019 and has being taken over by the new all inclusive Maalaea Resort. Keeping the cable wakeboarding pool open, you'll still find plenty to do out here.
#3 Las Perlas & Contadora
The Pearl Islands is a group of 200 or so islands and inlets (many tiny and uninhabited) lying about 48kms off the Pacific Coast in the Gulf of Panama. Jump on Sea Las Perlas fast ferry leaving at 7.30am - returning at 3.30pm for $98 return.The most notable island in Contadora known for its beautiful resorts, hotels and some of the best fishing spots in the world. This is the actual location used to shoot the famous TV series Survivor Island which can be visited on a day trip with Pearl Island Day Tours. Whale Watching season stretches from July - October in the Pearl Islands with the chance.
#4 Playa Coronado
Coronado was Panama’s first resort community and has since become the hub of Panama’s Pacific Coast community only 80kms (1.5 hours) from Panama City. The beach region continues to grow not only as a retirement destination, but as a place to enjoy the weekend and escape from the city hustle and bustle. One of the area’s appeals is its proximity to grocery stores, banks, medical centers and international schools and of course the beach. These amenities have encouraged more young families to make Coronado home. Whether they are moving from Panama City or making the longer journey from somewhere abroad. One thing visitors will find in Coronado are more options, far more than those available in other beach towns on Panama’s Pacific Coast.
#5 Playa Blanca
Playa Blanca Beach Resort in Rio Hato is another popular destination for both locals and tourists boasting the second biggest swimming pool in the world. The property spreads along the beach and includes a list of facilities including 17 - Acre saltwater swimming pool, water slides, swim up bar, 2 jacuzzis and white sandy beach. Also in this area you got The Royal Decameron and The Sheraton Bijao.
#6 Isla Grande, Portobelo, Colon
On the Caribbean Coast of Panama about 2.5 - 3 hours drive from Panama City you will find Isla Grande with its crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches. It’s well worth the drive and a short boat ride to the Island. There is a range of different Hotels, Hostels and Cabana’s if you fancy staying a few nights and unwinding Caribbean style, the pace of life is much slower on this side of the country for sure.
#7 Guna Yala/San Blas
The San Blas Islands of Panama is an archipelago comprising of approximately 365 Islands and cays of which 49 are inhabited. They lie off the North coast, about 3 hours 4x4 drive over the mountains to the port and roughly 30mins by launcha (small boat) to your desired island. The Guna people are an Indigious tribe who have lived on these islands for hundreds of years, living off the sea and coconuts. San Blas and its surrounding area is a haven for ecotourism because of its pristine environment.