A country with surprisingly varied landscapes, Panama is so much more than its modern, cosmopolitan capital city. There are mountain towns boasting cool climates, pine-covered hills, and sweet, Swiss-style cottages framed with bright bursts of bougainvillea. And of course there are beaches galore, from the white sand gems of the Caribbean, to the many popular and easily accessible beaches of the Pacific.
Join International Living Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch as she shows brief footage from just a few of Panama’s more varied landscapes. Start at the Cinta Costera in Panama City. A network of avenues and walkways along the Panama Bay, the Cinta is lined with recreation areas and is a popular place for locals and visitors to jog, walk, do aerobics, play tennis, enjoy impromptu concerts and performances, and much more. The Cinta is close to malls, hospitals, restaurants, and nearly any other amenity imaginable
Just over an hour north of the city of Santiago you’ll find Santa Fe, a mountain village tucked in among the rocky peaks of the Continental Divide. There are no skyscrapers or mega-resorts here. The few backpackers and expats that venture to Santa Fe do so for the natural setting and outdoor activities in and around the Santa Fe National Park, one of the best places in the country to hike, bird watch, and more.
Next up is the historic Caribbean town of Portobelo, a sleepy outpost that was once the region’s greatest port. No one knows exactly how many tons of Peruvian gold and other treasures passed through here centuries ago. Today, visitors come to view the ports old canons, take photos of the stunning waters in multiple shades of blue, and perhaps take a dip or scuba dive at one of the beaches along the coast or on the nearby islands of Mamey and Isla Grande.
Just an hour-and-a-half from Panama City, Sora boasts expansive mountain views, streams, and wooded areas, home to many species of fish, birds, and wildlife, from deer to monkeys to furry sloths. This is one of the quietest expat destinations in Panama, with little more than a few general stores within the town limits. However, the growing beach town of Coronado is just 45 minutes away.
Popular with well-heeled Panamanians because of its close proximity to Panama City (just an hour’s drive), Coronado is home to an active, welcoming expat community. The beach, a mix of white sand and shimmering black volcanic sand, is usually uncrowded, with no hawkers or beach bars to mar the tranquility.
In town, new shopping plazas are filled with shops, supermarkets, and eateries. The small but modern clinic is the closest upscale medical facility for people living not only in Coronado but also in nearby towns like Chame, San Carlos, Sora, and El Valle. All this makes Coronado a convenient hub in Panama’s Pacific Coast region.