This post is also available in: Spanish
Panama’s Colón Caribbean Beaches. The Costa Arriba of the Colon Province, is the coastal portion that lies between the mouth of the Chagres River and the Panama Canal and round to the region of Guna Yala. This area is characterized by crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches, picturesque islands, humid jungle vegetation and abundant wildlife.
The Costa Arriba is formed by the communities of Maria Chiquita, Nombre de Dios, Cacique, Portobelo, Puerto Lindo, La Guaira and the Islands Mamey and Isla Grande, located along the Genea road leading from Sabanitas to La Guaira. Regardless which of these destinations you choose, the experience of driving on this narrow road that winds beside the blue Caribbean Sea, along mountain foothills, through forests and over small rivers and estuaries, is incomparable.
There are several options for activities in the area as well as a diverse and authentic cuisine to try. Below are listed some of the best attractions of the Costa Arriba of Colon.
One of the most prominent attractions of the Costa Arriba is that it is located on the Caribbean coast of the country, therefore has several quiet beaches, picturesque islands and water sports.
Playa Nombre de Dios: Located in the town of the same name near the mouth of the Nombre de Dios River, this beach is perfect for a relaxing break by the sea, which has a moderate swell and a gentle breeze blowing most of the year.
Playa La Angosta: This is one of the most popular beaches in the area, and contrary to what its name might suggest, (angosta means narrow in Spanish) it is a beach of considerable length and, fairly wide, so it has a large space for beach sports or a night-time campfire. This beach has its own parking. Visitors can make use of this for a fee of $2.
La Guaira: This beach is located in the town of La Guaira, about 20 kilometers east of Portobelo, it is a small beach surrounded by palm trees, white sand and calm and clear waters. You can snorkel here as there is a coral reef near the shore. It has several restaurants and bathrooms just steps from the beach.
Isla Grande: No doubt, one of the best beaches in Panama, Isla Grande is located just off the coast of the town of La Guaira. Water taxis can be hired to go to the island which cost around $2.50 per person. It has a variety of Caribbean food and seafood restaurants as well as bars and nightclubs. It has an active nightlife and there are hotels with all the amenities
Isla Mamey: This is another popular island in the area. It is located off the coast of Playa La Angosta where you can take a boat to the island for about $3, or you can arrange a boat tour for around $15, so you can explore the mangroves that surround the island and learn more about the diversity of species of plants and birds.
Water Sports: The waters of the area have abundant marine life and coral reefs that can be seen by taking a snorkeling or diving tour with one of several tour operators in the area. Scuba Panama is one of them, located in Portobelo, offers guided dive tours to various destinations in the area, all within 5 to 10 minutes boat distance, so you will not have to work hard to immerse in more than one location on the same day.
If you are new and do not yet know how to dive, you can take diving lessons certified by PADI at “Panama Reef Divers”. This is located in the town of Puerto Lindo, and at the end of your lessons you can enjoy a dive on the nearby reef. They also have a cozy hostel and a restaurant offering continental breakfast, lunch and dinners.
Zoo: A good choice for visiting with the family is the Safaricks Zoo, located in the town of Maria Chiquita, this zoo has the largest aviary in Panama, where from inside the cage you can appreciate, more than 20 different species of birds. It also has a butterfly sanctuary and in total they exhibit about 50 species between mammals, birds and reptiles.
Sierra Llorona: This mountainous area is located between the towns of Santa Rita and Cerro Bruja. In recent years it has become an ideal destination for exploring this Caribbean region, thanks to its many jungle trails and ecological tourism. There are several trails that will take you through forests and mountains from whose summits you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Atlantic and the Portobelo area. This is an ideal place for camping, bird watching and to appreciate local fauna. “La Indomable”, is a temporary camping site in Santa Rita. This camp has a wooden deck to place your tent, plus a bar, restrooms and cabins with daily commodities, to spend the night in the mountains. Despite being on the coast, temperatures in Sierra Llorona, especially when camping, can drop to 19 degrees at night, so it is advisable to bring a light coat.
Panama’s Colón Caribbean Beaches: How to get there?
Most top destinations on the Costa Arriba are about two hours from Panama City, or an hour from Colon city. Departing from Panama by car, exit leading to the Panama-Colon highway, then take the Transístmica road towards the city of Colon until you reach the village of Sabanitas. Once there, turn right at the El Rey supermarket and continue on Genea Road, which leads through all these destinations up to La Guaira.
By bus, you can take a “Panama-Colon” route ($ 3.10) at the national transport Terminal in Albrook- Ask the bus driver to leave you at the Sabanitas stop; then you can wait for the bus on the “Costa Arriba” route in front of the Supermercado El Rey. This has a cost of $3 and takes you on a scenic tour, making stops in each of the destinations mentioned above.