It’s late afternoon on a warm, sunny Panama day and I’m strolling on one of the most mesmerizing stretches of sand I’ve ever seen. But it’s not your typical powder-white sand beneath my toes…instead it’s midnight black sand, with swirls of lighter tan mixed throughout. And it almost glistens, like it’s covered in tiny twinkling stars.
This is what the beaches around the popular town of Coronado, on Panama’s Pacific coast, all look like. It’s strangely beautiful and even better is that I have this long, wide beach almost entirely to myself. Up ahead I can see a couple relaxing on colorful beach chairs. To my left I can hear the excited bark of a dog who is chasing a large stick, thrown into the gentle, lapping waves by his owner.
On a beach this beautiful, I expected to find it thronged with sun worshippers, music booming from beach bars, and hawkers selling their wares. Not so in Coronado…it’s peaceful here.
Coronado has long been the favorite beach town getaway for Panama City’s elite, and in recent years it’s also become popular with expats looking for a tranquil beach lifestyle. Just an hour down the Pan-American Highway from the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital city, it feels like a world away. But that doesn’t mean you’ll want for anything here.
Turning off the Highway, I was greeted by a large shopping plaza which contained, among others, a pharmacy, launderette, a bank, McDonalds, and a Crocs shoe shop. Across the street is a large Rey supermarket (one of three stores in the area) which has everything you could need…including friendly staff who welcomed me to Panama and wished me well on my visit.
This is the commercial sector of Coronado…a short drive from here and you’ll come to the gates of Coronado’s main residential area. Although technically a gated community, it’s not what you might expect. The guards at the main gate will freely wave you through, and beyond that you won’t find cookie-cutter houses or manicured sidewalks.
Properties here range from single family homes painted royal blue or firey orange with neat front yards filled with shocking pink bougainvillea…to shiny new condos with sea views…to hacienda-style mansions boasting courtyard fountains and electronic gates. Many of these larger homes belong to the old, moneyed Panama City families who spend their weekends here.
But you don’t have to come from a wealthy family to enjoy the laidback beach life on offer in Coronado. I found a one-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in one of the area’s golf developments for $220,000. The price also includes membership of the golf club.
If you’d prefer something a little bigger, there’s something here for you too. I came across a 1,860-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom villa with a large terrace, a short walk from the beach on the market for $275,000. You’ll have access to tennis courts, a gym, and a swimming pool.
Rentals are also available, and I came across a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house a short walk from the beach I talked about above. It rents for $1,200 a month.
Standing with my feet in the warm surf, watching the sea birds dive into the ocean searching for their dinner, savoring the peaceful atmosphere, it’s not hard to see Coronado’s appeal. Tranquil beaches…good-value property…and all the amenities you could need for a comfortable life by the beach, Coronado has it all.
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