I can remember as a child when I purchased my first “Beaches” calendar and dreamed of one day getting to visit one of those beautiful white sand beaches in person, complete with a palm tree arching out over the ocean and a shady spot to lay out my towel. I had it all figured out at an early age as you can see!

Now, after making Panama my home, I cannot begin to count the number of moments in which I’ve thought back about that calendar and how I’ve made that dream come true! While those who come to Panama realize that it is much more than just beaches, one cannot make a complete trip to the isthmus without getting to soak up the magic of Panama’s many tropical coastal destinations.

However, if you’re like me, your “Beaches” calendar did not include oversized crowds, dirty water, or a packed parking lot that you can barely make their way through. As Panama continues to grow as a popular tourist destination, it is possible to miss out on the more pristine beach locations and get lost in the crowds. Here are my Top 5 Beaches that you MUST include on your next trip to Panama:

Top 5 Beaches in Panama

1. Isla Zapatilla, Bocas del Toro

Part of the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, the two Zapatilla (little shoe) islands of Bocas del Toro will easily become your favorites. Part of a protected marine area, these islands receive tours daily but are never overcrowded. Because of their protected status you will find them free of garbage, uninhabited, and truly feel like you’re standing on the edge of the earth. Boats leave daily from Isla Colón.

Top 5 Beaches You Can't Miss in Panama!


2. Playa Venao, Los Santos

If you’re looking for surf, a mellow night life, and a long beach that you can really spread out on, than Playa Venao is for you! Located at the southern tip of the Azuero province, even on a crowded holiday weekend this beach has plenty of room and never feels packed. The handful of hotels that line the beach have beautiful outdoor seating areas complete with bars and music, while the beach is home to some of the best surfing and fishing in Panama. It’s easy to fall in love with Playa Venao.

3. Las Lajas, Chiriquí

One of my favorites as a Peace Corps Volunteer living in Panama, Las Lajas beach is a favorite for both locals and visitors. Another long sandy beach, it never gets too crowded, even on holiday weekends, and has lodging options for every kind of budget. It’s also conveniently located on the way to Boquete in Chiriquí and can make an excellent stopping point if you’re looking to break up your long trip across the country.

Top 5 Beaches You Can't Miss in Panama!


4. Isla Mamey, Colón

A local favorite, Isla Mamey is not as well known by the tourists that flock to Panama. Located just a couple hours from Panama City, Isla Mamey is one of my favorite Caribbean destinations. If you’re looking for a resort with a 5 star restaurant, you won’t find it here. Isla Mamey is uninhabited and ideal for picnic-ers and those looking to take a 5 star nap under the shade of a palm tree. The water is crystal clear so take advantage of our tour on Keteka and try out some snorkeling!

Top 5 Beaches You Can't Miss in Panama!

5. El Palmar, Panamá Oeste

Wanna learn how to surf? Palmar is the spot for you! located on the western side of the town of San Carlos, Palmar is a favorite for those looking to try out their surfing skills for the first time. Lessons and board rentals are available, and for when you’ve worked up an appetite, the nearby restaurants serve up some pretty delicious seafood.

Top 5 Beaches You Can't Miss in Panama!


No matter what your style or interest, you’ll find the beach of your dreams in this tiny paradise!