(Reposted with permission from “In De Campo”, written by Karen Ann Miles – www.indecampo.wordpress.com)
The town of Pedasi, the capital of the district of the same name, is southeast in the province of Los Santos. Our district runs from Mariabe to Oria Arriba, but for the list purpose we’re going around the district and down to the end of the peninsula to Cambutal. I haven’t listed them in any particular order and today I bring you the first five on the list:
1. May I suggest visiting during a fiesta? It’s not too difficult to arrange as there seems to be one almost every month. In December there are small Desfile de Navidad’s scattered throughout Panama. Ours in usually the last Saturday before Christmas. In Sat Jan 16 2016 in Las Tablas there is the Desfile Mil Polleras and of course Carnaval 06-09 February. While Sobrina Chiquita was here the town was celebrating the town’s patron saint, Santa Catalina and it was one of the more religious celebrations, but it still included fireworks, music and dancing;
2. Don’t miss a trip to Isla Iguana, a 55-hectare wildlife refuge that has white sand beaches and some good snorkeling. The island is one of the highlights of our area, try to go while the tide is high. A boat is $70.00 there and back and the boats can usually take up to eight people. Your captain will likely stay on the island with you or he may go fishing for a couple of hours while he waits. You can find boat captains taking turns with passengers at Playa Arenal if you feel you’d like to arrange your trip on your own. Bring your passport, cedula or Panama residency card with you as the tourismo officers will collect the information from it before you board the boat. You should also bring a towels, packed lunch, snorkel gear, insect repellent, sun block and plenty to drink as it gets hot on a sunny day. There is an entrance fee of 10 USD for tourists and 4 USD for Panama residents. If you don’t want to make arrangements on your own your hostal or one of the local tour offices can arrange the trip for you. Note: There are no facilities on Isla Iguana so double-check what you need to bring. The boat captain is paid when you arrive back on the main land if you arrange the trip yourself;
3. Check out the beaches. There are so many beaches in our area on the highways and bi ways and they are deserted during the week for the most part, except for the holidays, I should qualify that one. On Saturday afternoons and Sundays you’ll find local families taking advantage of their day off from work so you might want to leave them to it. Beaches within a short drive, bike or taxi ride from Pedasi include Playa Arenal, Playa El Toro, Playa Lagartito and Playa Lagarto. Further afield is Playa Destiladeros about 10 km south of Pedasí after the dirt road past Villa Romano you’ll find a good swimming beach Puerto Escondido and even further our favourite boogie boarding beach Playa Panamaes.
Further down the peninsula on the main road but a little off the path there’s Playa Chumico, Play Oria and Playa El Ciruelo beautiful beaches for walking or fishing from the beach. Playa La Playita is a resort near El Ciruelo and Venao, there is a $5.00 fee per person and a cooler fee if you bring one but they also have a restaurant on site. The resort also has several animals worth photographing and a good swimming beach. If you want to try some surfing you can go to Playa Venao or further down the peninsula to Playa Cambutal. Venao has accommodation and restaurants as does Cambutal. Playa Bucaro is located between Tonosi and Cambutal. Cambutal has black sand beaches and is at the end of the highway, really the road ends there. If you go to Cambutal you might also want to stop at;
4. Isla Cañas. Wildlife Refuge Cañas Island is a mangrove forest, which is the largest in the province of Los Santos. There are fish species such as shrimp, lobster and snapper. The Wildlife Refuge Cañas Island was made a protected area in 1994. Isla Cañas comprises coastal, marine and island areas. Sea turtles return every year to these beaches to lay their eggs. During the months of June to November thousands olive ridley turtles arrive at the beaches. Isla Cañas is one of the most important nesting sites for sea turtles in the Panamanian Pacific, and one of the largest in the Central Pacific. Tonosi, the closest town has lodgings and restaurants with very affordable prices, and the village of Cañas has some food service and small shops. Again you can arrange a tour with one of the operators in Pedasi or Cañas or go it on your own;
5. Take the mountain road from Tonosi to Las Tablas after your visit to Cañas and Cambutal. On a clear day the views are spectacular and there are a couple of spots to pull over, just be cautious. The entrance to the road is just outside Tonosi. This is the way to experience the true Panama, you’ll pass through several small villages on the road. Again, there are no services along the road so go ready, the drive takes about an hour more or less and ends in Las Tablas where you can take the road back to Pedasi; and
Check back “next week” for the rest of the list…in the campo.