The stretch of Pacific Coast west of Panama City features jagged coastline spotted with decent beaches, plenteous wildlife, some luxury hotels and golf courses and a fair amount of islands just off the coast. One of the benefits of this side of Panama is that it doesn’t face the disastrous hurricane season that hits the Caribbean side every year. Some highlights of Panama’s Pacific Coast are:
The Península de Azuero has excellent beaches and a vibrant indigenous culture famous for their festivals and handicrafts. There are plenty of spots to escape the crowds, much of the peninsula is very isolated and not developed for tourism. The largest town, Chitré is a good base to explore the peninsula with an interesting museum, cathedral and some great national parks and beaches just out of town. There is an air strip here and a handful of hotels and restaurants.
Isla Tabago can be reached by speedboat from the docks about half an hour outside of Panama City and offer a complete escape from life in the congested city. The water is much cleaner out here than it is in the city. However, you will see large ships and oil rigs anchored in the distance, waiting to pass through the Panama Canal.
The Pearl Islands, or Archipiélago de las Perlas, are 220 islands 75 km (45 mi) southwest of Panama City. There are gorgeous beaches facing crystal-clear water with a wide selection of water sports like deep-sea fishing, sailing, skin-diving, and swimming. One of the smaller islands, Contadora, is also one of the more popular islands and is quickly developing for tourism. It is a great launching point to the many smaller islands nearby, many of which are uninhabited.