South America's Pacific coastline rather lacks high quality beaches and travel attractions, but by the time you reach Panama, there are plenty of excellent beaches and small beach resorts along the coast. We've separate sections on the Pearl Islands (an idyllic archipelago just a 20 minute flight from Panama City), an extensive guide to the Azuero Peninsula and Pedasi, plus some tips on Santa Catalina and the amazing Coiba Island. Here we'll mention many of the beach and hotels that are on the Pacific Coast just West of Panama City.
Pacific Coast Beaches and Resorts near Panama City
Travel along the Pan Americana highway West from Panama City and there are numerous beaches and small resorts within a 90 minute drive. The beaches get packed out and have a party atmosphere on the weekends and during public holidays, but the rest of the time they can be quite empty. The beaches stretch for miles, and many merge into the next - it's possible to take some extensive coastal walks here, especially at low tide. El Valle de Anton is a highland town set about 30 minutes inland from the Panamericana highway - there's a cooler climate in this town that is popular with North American retirees, and it's an alternative inland base to explore this coastline. There are also hot springs and some pleasant walks around El Valle de Anton.
Playa Bonita (also called Playa Kobbe) is the nearest to Panama City - here lies the luxury 5 star Intercontinental Playa Bonita Resort & Spa. Travel further West to find a greater selection of options - beaches stretch from Punta Chame to the East all the way to Playa Blanca in the West. Punta Chame is the remotest and wildest section of the coastline, with a few basic accommodation options but the beaches are better further West. Playa Gorgona has a few beaches nearby including Playa Malibu, a good surfing beach. There are a few basic cabanas on the beaches here. Consider staying at Cabanas de Playa Gorgona (cheap, self catering cabins near the beach), Cabanas Villanita (small cabins on the beach, plus a swimming pool) or Hotel Canadian (located in Chame, a good base to explore, and various tours can be arranged).
Travel a little further West and you encounter Playa Coronado, one of the oldest and most developed beach communities on Panama's Pacific coast with lots of condos and holiday homes. Club Gaviota is a decent budget hotel in Coronado, alternatively try the luxury Coronado Golf and Beach Resort. Further West lie Playa Lagomar and Playa San Carlos before you reach Playa El Palmar where one finds the Bay View Resort (simple and good value with a swimming pool - nothing special) as well as Hotel Palmar Surf Beach & School (where you can learn to surf).
Further West there are numerous other beaches, most of which are intermittently
lined with holiday homes such as Playas Rio Mar, Corona, La Ermita, Chumico Redondo, Rio Platanal and Sea Cliff, after which lies Playa Santa Clara and subsequently Playa Farallon. Santa Clara and Farallon are two of the prettier beaches along this section of Panama's coast - the sand is yellower, and the sea bluer and more appealing here. Considering staying at the small, upmarket hotel Las Sirenas, which offers some lovely beach front cottages on Santa Clara beach. Also on Santa Clara beach is Las Veraneras, which is cheaper, but thoroughly run down, overpriced and has very poor service. Set a 10 minute walk from Santa Clara beach is the pleasant Blue Dolphin Lodge. In Farallon is the huge, extremely popular Royal Decameron Beach Resort, in addition to the smaller Playa Blanca Resort.
There are also a few excellent golf courses in this region - such as those at Playa Coronado, the Tucan Country Club and the Mantaray golf course. The whole coastline is scattered with holiday homes that are increasingly popular with North American retirees. In reality the beaches are rather disappointing along this section of Panama's Pacific Coast - many are grey in colour and covered in litter, and the sea is rather murky.
El Valle de Anton
El Valle is an alternative base to explore this section of Panama's Pacific Coast. The small town is very spread out and has some lovely holiday homes set inside an extinct volcanic crater (though you wouldn't have guessed you were in one). There are hot water springs and scenic walks nearby, and the beaches along the Pacific Coast are a short drive away. There are a huge selection of accommodations in El Valle de Anton - some to consider include Canopy Lodge (which caters towards birdwatchers), La Casa de Lordes (a new boutique hotel), Crater Valley Adventure Spa (lots of outdoor activities can easily be arranged), Los Capitanes Hotel, Hotel Campestre, the Anton Valley Hotel, the Golden Frog Inn or Park Eden.