You’re moving where? Panama? Where is that? Do they have electricity? Will you be kidnapped by pirates? Is there anything else besides the canal? These were all real questions thrown my way when I proudly announced I’d be moving to the Central America Isthmus. Little is known about Panama, which is kind of part of the fun of discovering its corners – and writing about it. I’ve been living in London for the last decade or so and you can’t sniff through Google without coming across oodles of odes, poems and guides about London. I’d been finding it hard to feel poetic about London; moving to Panama was a whole new sensory experience that re-awakened my inner Walt Whitman.
Things work different here (some things don’t work at all). Hardly any of the music played is in English. Few people speak English in the rural areas. It’s vegetation resembles its Costa Rican neighbour, the cuisine isn’t far off from Colombian food, but Panama is so distinctly Panama. If you haven’t had a crash course before your arrival, you’ll have no clue what “¡Ayala vida!” or “Que xopa priti?” mean. What sets Panama apart from many of the countries I have visited is its miles and miles of shoreline – 1,500 miles to be kind of precise. There are just so many stunning beaches in Panama from Bocas del Toro to the Archipelago of San Blas. I hereby present ten of the country’s most sparkling beachy gems – the pirates don’t seem so bad now do they?
1. Starfish Beach, Bocas del Toro
2. Isla Iguana, Pedasí
3. Isla Coiba, Veraguas
4. Isla Solarte, Bocas del Toro
5. Azul Paradise, Bastimentos National Park, Bocas del Toro (private beach)
6. Isla Viveros, Pearl Archipelago
7. Isla Taboga
8. Isla Carenero beaches, Bocas del Toro
9. Kusapín, Bocas del Toro
10. Anywhere in the San Blas Islands