Best Beaches in Panama

Panama’s coastline stretches for hundreds of kilometers along both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, with over a thousand islands just offshore. This means that the best beaches in Panama are also incredibly diverse. Some of Panama's beaches have soft white sand and border calm turquoise waters perfect for swimming, such as Playa Blanca; other beaches have grey, brown, or black sand, and are served by routine swells that lure international surfers, like Playa Cambutal. Panama’s islands — including those in Bocas del Toro, the Gulf of Chiriquí, and Guna Yala — have some of the prettiest beaches in the country.

Isla Bastimentos Panama
Isla Bastimentos

Bocas del Toro Province

Most of the beaches are on the northern end of the island. Visit spots like Red Frog Beach for its clear, bright blue water and, often, fairly strong surf. Playa Wizard has a usually fairly empty stretch of sand and similarly lively waves. To see one of the most beautiful beaches in Bocas del Toro, arrange for a trip to the nearby Cayo Zapatilla, which offers one of the most tranquil swimming spots in all of the Bocas Islands.

Besides the public beaches, you might also want to visit the more remote beaches in the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park. These are surrounded by jungle. To see more local wildlife, go snorkeling in the Cayo Crawl, a shallow channel on the southern end of the island.

This is a popular island to visit, so you’ll find a nice variety of options for hotels. Choose from laid back beach bungalows and luxury resorts, as well as a few pleasant options in between. Some of the nicest options put you right on top of the water, with private patios looking out over the ocean.

Playa Venao Panama
Playa Venao

The Azuero Peninsula

While you’re here, you might want to combine a surfing trip with a fishing excursion — the Azuero Peninsula is known for its abundance of tuna. For more adventure, consider hopping a bus or arranging for a driver to take you to the nearby town of Chitré, where you can take a scenic tour of surrounding farms and gardens. On a visit to Playa Venao, you can stay at comfortable, boutique accommodations in the small town of Pedsasí.

Isla Contadora Archipelago Perlas Panama
Isla Contadora Archipelago Perlas

Gulf of Panama and Canal Zone

If you’re looking to have a bit of beach all to yourself, make sure to visit Playa Cacique while you’re on the island. Playa Ejecutiva is another popular beach with warm waters that make for lovely swims. Playa Larga stands out because of the abandoned ferry near the shore. These are just a few options — with so many tropical destinations to choose from, you can fill your vacation with some of the prettiest beaches in Panama.

Playa Cambutal Panama
Playa Cambutal

The Azuero Peninsula

Cambutal also puts you right next to the Cerro Hoya National Park. This park isn’t very well developed, but if you go with a guide, you’ll get to see one of Panama’s most off-the-beaten path nature destinations. You can explore the peaks of Cerro Hoya and Cerro Soya on hikes through the rainforest where you’ll keep an eye out for macaws and the Azuero parakeet.