My Favorite Place For a Day Trip to the Beach in Panama

Growing up in Oregon, I spent the summers at our beach house on the ocean. For most of my life, I’ve lived inland, away from any coastline. So every vacation, my first preference was to go somewhere with an ocean. When I decided to move out of the U.S., top of my list was sun and sand.

I found that and more in my new hometown of David, Panama. Although not directly on the coast, David is close enough that when I start craving sand between my toes, a short drive takes me to the beach and the wonderful salt air.

Playa La Barqueta is the closest beach to David and is also my favorite. The drive takes about 30 minutes from downtown David and the two-lane road winds through fields of sugarcane, rice, and cattle ranches. When you least expect it, the road straightens out and ahead is the ocean.

The land around here has been owned by generations of the same family since 1885, who found the fertile soil perfect for raising cattle and dairy cows. Antonio Anguizola Palma, the son of the original owner, built a pier on the beach to transport his livestock by boat to Panama City. And that’s how the beach got its name…La Barqueta comes from the Latin word barquin which means a person who travels from one place to another by boat.

La Barqueta is a black-sand beach that’s more than 11 miles long with views of Puerto Armuelles and the islands off Boca Chica in the distance. La Barqueta is a great day trip destination. You can rent out a small palapa for $5 for a day and sit back and enjoy the view or grab some lunch in the small restaurant where a great fish dish and a cold beer will cost less than $10.

Designated as a surfing beach, the tides can be rough and wild at times but it’s still a great place for a swim in the ocean or a leisurely walk along the shoreline. If you prefer a bit more activity in your day, you can play volleyball, collect clams, or bike riding along the water’s edge. The beach is usually quiet with not much activity so you might even have it to yourself if you go during the week. Weekends are usually busier with the locals from David come to get relief from the heat of the city.

If you prefer a more refined atmosphere for your day trip or want to stay overnight, the Las Olas resort is just down the street. This resort, (which is run by the original family who built the pier) has rooms overlooking the ocean where the sounds of the surf will lull you to sleep after a spectacular sunset. Basic rooms start at $90…and with a jubilado (retiree) discount, you’ll get 50% off the normal rate.

The resort also offers a day pass for under $18 per person. This pass allows you to enjoy all the amenities of the hotel including the resort’s beach chairs, the two beautiful swimming pools, showers, sauna, a weights room, and the restaurant.

I love having the opportunity to stay overnight at Las Olas. It is a great place to sit on the veranda and watch the sun sink into the ocean while enjoying a good meal and then doze off to the pounding surf. The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the beef on the restaurant menu comes from cattle raised on the ranch and many of the selections of fruits and vegetables are also grown on the property.

So whether you want sun and surf or just want to relax, a day at Playa La Barqueta is worth the easy drive from David.

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