(Panama Gringo) This is a question I inquire to locals on a regular basis and I rarely receive the same response. As Panama is an isthmus there are more than a plethora of beaches to choose from so you can imagine many people have different opinions. Another factor that seems to influence people’s decisions is where they are from. Panama City is a massive melting pot of people from all over the country (and the world for that matter) and people from provinces such as Chiriqui, Cocle or Veraguas will all tell you that the best beaches are near to their home. With so many amazing beaches I don’t doubt that each person has reasons to believe they have the best ones, but what is honestly the nicest, closest beach to Panama City?
This Gringo has gone through bottles of sunscreen subjecting myself to sunburns, hours of beach naps and countless hours floating in the ocean to discover the perfect beach for you. After months of hard work “beach-bumming” I think I’ve got the answer for you all. Just a mere hour and a half by bus, Playa Santa Clara takes the cake for the best, closest beach to the city. (A close second is Isla Taboga please read this article if you want more information on this wonderful island beach.) If you have a car it’s even easier, but if not the bus ride is comfortable, heavily air-conditioned and painless. Although it will cost you $2 to enter the beach, it’s well worth it! A gorgeous horizon dotted with fishing boats and a very green island with a massive cross on the top will be your view for the day as you relax in the soft, light brown sand which is perfect for taking a siesta in the sun. The popular Las Veraneras restaurant and bar rents comfortable cabanas providing shade for the day, two hammocks and a table for a picnic. On this beach you won’t find the US style umbrellas for shade, instead all the spots to rent are nice looking straw huts which give the beach a really authentic Central American feel. The restaurant is relatively cheap and great quality food. A fresh, fried fish will run you around $6-7 and $1.25 for a local cerveza on the side. There is a nice diverse crowd on the beach with many foreigners and locals mingling together. The waves break a bit near to the shore so it’s not a great spot for body surfing or boogie boarding, but the very salty water make it a fantastic place to float on your back and let the worries of the work week dissipate into the sea. With the short and easy drive to and from the beach you can have a fantastic day trip to the beach without the hassle of waking up early and you can be home in time for dinner. For more information on this fantastic beach please inquire below, or if you visit the beach on a Saturday or Sunday just look for a very sunburned, blond haired, blue eyed gringo swimming in the sea and ask me!