Panama’s Caribbean Coast: Beaches, beauty, and natural wonder

Oct 6, 2017 | Moving to Panama, Panama Tourism, Panama Trade

Panama’s Caribbean coast has a unique history. It’s the first coast the Spanish settled upon, a place rich in resources and pristine beaches, and hosts the northern mouth of the Panama Canal. For the past century or so, however, Panama’s Caribbean coast has largely been overshadowed by the economic and tourism powerhouse of the capital city and developed beach areas of the Pacific. Despite all this, there is a certain kind of magic contained within Panama’s Caribbean coastline. One that locals in the rest of the country know, and value, even if they don’t visit that often. Panama’s northern Caribbean coast has some of the country’s best beaches, hikes, fishing, boating, maritime commerce, and yes, party scene. Here’s more.

What’s the main draw of the Caribbean coast of Panama?

For starters, the Caribbean. Much like every other country that shares a coastline on this sea, Panama’s portion has well over 1,000 miles of pristine turqoise-blue beaches that hug its shores. From the San Blas islands to Isla Grande, Isla Escudo de Veraguas to Bocas del Toro, it would take weeks to see and enjoy all of the fabulous beaches there. This makes tourism the biggest draw to the majority of the coast, however, it’s not quite the same tourism that the Pacific coast relies on. The “Caribbean side” of Panama, as it’s commonly referred to, draws more of an adventure tourism crowd, as well es ecotourism. And there are a few solid reasons for this.

Panama’s Caribbean coast is largely undeveloped outside of Colon, and has limited transportation available outside of a few main roads. This has kept the area very nature-friendly, and perfect for off-the-grid travel, or those who want to see the “wilder” side of Panama. Of course, Bocas del Toro is a bit more crowded in parts, but it pales in comparison to the all inclusive resorts and retirement communities on the southern coast. San Blas, for example, is protected indigenous land, where many of the 400 islands don’t have electricity, and lodging is done in traditional style, giving visitors a truly unique experience that’s hard to find anywhere else in the region.

Panama’s principle port for trade, cruises, and shipping

Aside from the tourism aspect, two of the most attractive parts of Panama’s Pacific coast are the port of Colon and the Panama Canal. The city of Colon is Panama’s 2nd largest, and sits as the northern mouth of the Panama Canal. Colon’s port is a giant money-maker for Panama and private companies that trade in it. It’s home to the Colon Free Zone, which is a tax-free market that draws thousands of international buyers and sellers, and brings in millions each year to the national economy. Colon also has the country’s only cruise ship terminal, and is the docking/landing place for many sizes and types of boats of pleasure, as well as shipping vessels.

Sadly, despite the economic impact from shipping and the Free Zone, the city of Colon has struggled to keep crime under control, and has major infrastructural and social issues confronting it. This is something that’s not lost on your average Panamanian or the government. Efforts are being made to help renovate the infrastructure of the city, bring in new urban renewal investment, and bring more local jobs there, away from just the shipping port. This sentiment will hopefully spread out throughout the Caribbean coast of Panama, making it more sustainable, and open for business/tourism for years to come.

Manoj Chatlani

Manoj Chatlani

Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in Panama immigration law, relocation services as well as real estate law and corporate law. POLS Attorneys offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a licensed Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA, a Masters degree in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

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