There are many lovely beaches stretching all along Panama’s Pacific coast, with some of the best beaches near Panama City found on Pearl Islands. They are relatively unoccupied and often deserted, offering fabulous snorkelling. For the best scuba diving in the country try the Coiba National Park, where you can hide away on tiny idyllic islands with fine beaches backed by dense jungle. At Las Lagas, Chiriqui Province, the beach it eight miles long, which makes for a wonderful sunset walk after body surfing in the gentle swell.
Located in the centre of the Pacific coast, the Azuero Peninsula is a less fashionable but richly traditional area, considered by Panamanians to be the heartland of their country. There is a well-preserved colonial culture here and a proud history going back to pre-Columbian indigenous peoples. The eastern side is the most popular, where the main towns of Chitre and Las Tables are full of Spanish colonial houses and elegant streets, churches and cathedrals, museums and plazas.
Festivals and partying are taken very seriously here and the pre-Lent Las Tablas carnival, which is non-stop for four days, is the best in Panama. For a quieter time, head for the fine, un-crowded beaches. The sea is usually calm but there is also some exceptional surfing to be had. Sport fishing is great here too, especially for tuna.
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