How Two Beach Lovers are Making it in Panama

Craig and April Lewis have an idyllic life in the Panamanian beach town of Pedasi.

Having first visited the town as dive instructors in 2010, they now run their own B&B there. Pedasi kept beckoning them with its activity-rich waters and many colorful festivals. You’ll hear it said there are 700 fiestas a year in this part of Panama, and this is the region where you’ll feel the country’s colonial heritage most keenly.

Cool evenings, bright, fun-filled days and a choice of restaurants that boggles the mind given the small size of the town…that’s what Pedasi has to offer. With temperatures averaging 88 F year round the region has the driest climate in Panama.

But it was the locals’ simple and easy-going way of life that really sealed the deal for Craig and April. “We love the local people. They are lots of fun and have a great outlook on life. The people were one of the main reasons that brought us back to Pedasi,” says Craig.

When the perfect B&B came up for sale—with a 25-foot fishing boat included— the couple decided to quit their dive instructing jobs, sell their home in Kelowna, British Columbia, and hang up their fins and tanks for a new life on the beaches of Panama’s Azuero Peninsula.

“Some days we may take the boat out for fishing…or go surfing…or take a mini-road trip for some diving,” says Craig. “Our work is our play and our play is our work and, for now, we don’t want it any other way. We’re having fun.”

It’s been a labor of love for them to transform the B&B, adding personal touches wherever they can—from the hammocks bought in town, to the custom-made side tables from one of the local woodworkers.

Their new home means they are surrounded by water. A minute’s drive away is Playa Arenal—the launch point for fishing and day trips to the Isla Iguana Wildlife Refuge…

Craig and April have good relationships with the local fishermen and arrange for their guests to take day trips to this coral-island paradise with local boat captains. They also earn by renting chairs, coolers, boards, and snorkel gear to guests eager to make the most of the region’s beaches.

Craig and April typically spend their own downtime on the water, either kite-boarding, surfing or dusting off the fins to take a short dive-trip elsewhere in Panama.

From Playa Arenal they can take their four-wheel quad farther down the coastline to Playa Toro and Playa Lagarita for some whale watching. And if the whales are shy that day, they can veer south to Playa Panamaes to catch some tasty waves ideal for body-boarding, or travel a half hour west to the championship surfing destination—Playa Venao.

“Well, we are certainly anything but retired,” says April. “The ‘to-do’ list—or more accurately the ‘want-to-do’ list—never gets shorter. However, we really enjoy working on the property and watching it slowly evolve into our vision.”

For Craig and April, the B&B and the small beach town of Pedasi have combined to create the perfect lifestyle income.

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