Playa Panama, Costa Rica is a beach on the Guanacaste coast that offers a beautiful and tranquil environment. It is located in the southern part of Bahía Culebra with peaceful waters and a very laid back atmosphere. Since this beach doesn’t have a town center or downtown, it’s very quiet. You won’t ever have to deal with crowds at the beach!
Although many developments have popped up, the serenity and pristine beach has not changed. The abundance of trees, crystal blue waters and ideal swimming conditions make this place a top choice for families and for those who are looking to spend some well needed relaxation time.
This post has been updated March 2020.
Location and Directions
Playa Panama, Costa Rica map
Driving Directions: It is about a thirty minute drive from Liberia International Airport From the airport, turn onto the main route (Route 21) and continue on this road for about 15 minutes. At the intersection in front of the hardware store called the Do-It Center, turn right onto Route 253. Continue on that road for about another 5 minutes or so and then turn left onto Route 254. Continue for another 10 minutes or so and you will reach Playa Panama. The entrance to the beach is not that easy to see but you will see a very large sign for the El Mangroove Hotel.
You can use GPS like Google Maps or Waze to get to your hotel in Playa Panama.
There are buses between the Liberia International Airport and Panama 3 times a day. A private shuttle for 1-4 people from LIR airport to Panama costs around $50 USD. An official airport taxi may be around $55 USD or so.
How to get around
Panama doesn’t have a downtown or city center so if you need to go to the bank or a big supermarket, you will need to go to Playas del Coco. The easiest way to get around this area is with a car since there is only one bus that goes throughout Panama, Hermosa and Coco and it doesn’t go often. You can ask your hotel to call you a taxi too. It will be around $15 USD one way.
As there is not too much at this beach, if you plan stay at Playa Panama as your home base for your trip, we recommend renting a car in Costa Rica to make it easier to get around.
If you’re only staying for a couple nights, shared shuttles do go to Panama beach and you can also book private shuttles. Tour companies will pick up at Panama beach.
Panama beach has such immaculate conditions with low tides and small waves it makes you feel like you are bathing in a big natural pool. With dark sand, blue waters and forest, it gives visitors the ultimate feeling of peace and being surrounded by nature.
The smooth sand allows for easy walking on the 2km (1 mile) long beach. There are some trees along the shore that are perfect for laying under the shade. Since waves are pretty much nonexistent at the beach, this is the perfect beach to go for families with babies and toddlers. They don’t need to worry about strong currents or rocks at this beach.
It can get a bit boring for solo travelers however, so I don’t recommend staying in Panama if you’re a solo traveler looking to meet other people. It is better to stay in Coco downtown where you are close to everything.
Playa Panama Hotels
There are just a handful of hotels in the area but remember: quality over quantity. And the quality of these hotels are top notch – from B&B to all inclusive hotels.
Here are a few of the popular hotels.
- El Mangrove – one of the most highly rated hotels in the country. Amazing pool and delicious restaurant. Great for couples.
- Casa Conde Del Mar – beautiful all-inclusive hotel on the beach. Their pool is really nice and the food is delicious.
- Vista Bahia Beach Resort – beach resort on the south end of the beach. Rooms are like suites with a full kitchen and balcony.
These hotels are more high end and have higher prices but being tucked away in the jungle means more privacy and attention to service as there are usually less tourists. As mentioned before, Hermosa and Panama are very close to each other so even if you are staying at a hotel by one or the other, it will still be easy to get around and see the area.
There is a new eco-camping area right outside one of the entrances so if you’re up for pitching a tent, there’s a nice flat piece of land to get in touch with nature.
Things to do in Playa Panama
Panama beach has such calm waters that it is a must for swimming. Scuba diving, sailing, snorkeling and sport fishing are all activities highly enjoyed here. Stand up paddle boarding would be great at this beach. You can check with your hotel if they have ocean equipment for rent. Playa Panama doesn’t have any good snorkeling right off shore, but we definitely recommend going for a kayak or stand up paddle.
When we used to live in Playas del Coco, we brought our kayak to Playa Panama beach once and kayaked all the way to the Four Seasons on the other end. Along the way, we ran into a pod of dolphins! As the kayak is super quiet, the dolphins came right up to us.
Most people come to Panama to relax. Panama is the ideal beach for families with little ones since there are virtually no waves as the beach is sheltered inside a bay. It’s also the go to for one looking to escape any type of crowd, have long private walks on the shore or take a dip with the kids.
Playa Panama Day Tours
There are a handful of fun day trips from Playa Panama. Head to the national parks like Rincon de la Vieja National Park or Palo Verde National Park to hike and see wildlife. Those are about a 1 to 1.5 hour drive. For adventure, head to Diamante Eco Adventure Park for the longest ocean view zipline and it’s only a 40 minute drive away.
Fishing is a must if you like to fish as the Gulf of Papagayo is famous for its excellent fishing. If you are a scuba diver, book a diving trip to Tortuga or Bat Islands. For those who want a full day of beach fun, book a beach hopping and snorkeling tour in the Gulf of Papagayo. Just a few minutes away from Playa Panama by boat are white sand, boat access only beaches and snorkel spots!
You can even visit Nicaragua on a 1 day tour as the border is only 2.5 hours away.
For nightlife, Playas del Coco is the place to go. There you will find several bars, a casino and lots of restaurants. It’s a cute little coastal village to check out.
Playa Panama Short Video
Visiting Playa Panama
You can visit Panama beach for a day or use it as a homebase. Stay at one of the few very nice hotels or vacation rentals in the area and rent a car for a really fun beach vacation. It’s a great location for couples looking for more privacy and a quieter atmosphere and families with little ones.