Internationally known for its many pristine beaches, Pedasi ranks as a great destination for surfing, scuba, fishing, whale-watching, saving turtles and swimming! Unlike most areas with beaches of this caliber, Pedasi is not a commercial tourist destination, so often you can walk for miles and not see a soul. This includes annoying beach salespeople, other sunbathers taking up your favorite spot, or beach patrol telling you what you can’t do. We love the sense of freedom, but the disadvantage is there’s also no one telling you where you can swim safely and when. With so many beaches to choose from, you might want to know the right beach for each activity before you head out with your cooler and sunscreen.
Tides, currents, shifting sandbars, storms and breaks can create rip tides on any beach where there are waves, but some areas are more dangerous. The most notable is Playa Lagarto (map link) which has recently claimed two lives and almost took our entire family of four (plus the dogs) when we had just moved here. It was one of the most frightening moments of my life, and could have been completely avoided if we had known the point’s reputation and the steps to avoid and escape a rip current. At the time, we pretty much just did what we saw locals doing. What we didn’t realize is that these locals were life-long, semi-pro bodyboarders … and thank God they were there because they helped to save our lives. These guys are amazing to watch, by the way, if you ever get to see them perform their acrobatics in the water…
Now that we’ve lived here a while, these are my personal favorite Top Swimming Beaches in Pedasi.
These three are especially great for all-day picnic excursions because the waves are gentle and there is plenty of sand even in high tide- great for young and old!
(Note: Each title is a hyperlink to the map location of this beach)
1. Isla Iguana-
Definitely should be on your list as a place to visit for the day even if you are only here for a few. Plan to go early and stay at least through a full tide cycle. The sand is soft and white, the water clear and warm. During the high tide, you can snorkel and this is a top spot for scuba in the area also. We have seen turtles, all kinds of fish and our oldest recently saw really cool little shark that got caught in a tide pool. The island is fun to walk around with two beaches to pick from and a covered area for picnic. It costs about $70 to hire a boat which gets 5-6 people to the island and back to Playa Arenal. Your driver will stay at the island with you. The only downside is you can’t crack open a cold one… unless it’s non-alcoholic. Well, I guess that keeps things peaceful!
2. Playita Resort-
On Playa Venao cove, the private beach costs a $5 entry fee per person (less for kids), plus a $25 per cooler fee. If you can’t bring a cooler, they have a little restaurant. The resort is really exotic with McCaws, iguanas, deer and an Imu! The beach is great for swimming all day, and at low tide you can walk over to a little rock island. The water is a little more clear and you can do some snorkeling. There are trees for shade, and hammocks to swing in. Oh… and a bathroom with a flushing toilet!!! This is another of my favorite spots for a day off.
3. Puerto Escondido-
A favorite of Panamanians who know that this beach is amazing for a great time with friends and family. The waves are calm, somewhat clear. There is plenty of shade and room to set up your picnic area even in high tide. For this reason, people tend to come here for all-day events because you don’t have to worry about the tides. On holidays expect this spot to fill up with cars and people quickly!
So what about the rest of the beaches?
Depending on the tide, storms and currents ALL the beaches can really be wonderful places to get in the water!
4. Runner Up: Playa Panamaes
Playa Panames is a family favorite because while the waves can be great for our oldest son to surf, the rest of us can enjoy swimming and sunbathing. We have never personally felt strong currents and the beach is gorgeous with soft sand and an easy beach where you can jump waves in waist high water. The beach is the hardest to get to and is very quiet!
5. Runner Up: Playa Los Destiladeros
Playa Los Destiladeros is also a favorite with families who come on vacation. Some areas are a little rocky, and sometimes the waves get a little intense, so be careful. Surfers love this beach and depending on currents the waves can be pretty great. The beach is super gorgeous with a volcanic mineral sand that is great for your health.
Playa Arenal, Playa Toro, and Playa La Garita can all be great for taking a dip. I am not personally a huge fan of swimming in Playa Venao because I don’t like getting in the way of the surfers.
For tourists and newcomers, we prefer that you be especially careful until you get to know each beach and what exactly to look out for. We recommend tourists to stay at one of the fine boutique hotels in our area so you can benefit from their wealth of knowledge about our local beaches. The municipality of Pedasi is now working toward installing signs to alert visitors of the known danger zones and how to escape if caught in a sudden current. If you’re an ocean novice like we were, these markers (and hopefully this post) will definitely come in handy!
We wish you a happy and safe day at the beach!