Playa Caracol: Best Surf Beach Near Panama City

When you get to Panama City you will notice a few things: the high-rise landscape like Miami, the multitude of casinos, and that there is NO BEACH! Situated right on the Pacific Ocean, Panama City simply doesn’t have a beach and even if it did you probably wouldn’t want to get in the water with all the tankers and ships waiting in the bay to transit the Panama Canal aka not the cleanest water. The closest beach to the city is across the Bridge of the Americas that crosses the canal in a city called Veracruz. The sand is coarse, no waves, and shallow reef that extends out a good hundred or two meters out.

Panama Chame Banks Playa Caracol

If you are looking for white sand, decent waves, and a comfortable chill vibe to enjoy the tropical weather of Panama then you’ll want to head to Playa Caracol about 1 hour 10 min from the city by private car. Playa Caracol is at the base of the Chame peninsula surrounded by nothing, but nature with a long deep white sand beach. The weather here falls outside the climate zones of the city and is typically a lot drier, sunnier and all around nicer here, so don’t let rain in the city get you down because it’s probably bright and sunny at Playa Caracol.


Long, granular, and white, the beach here is excellent for beach volleyball, chilling, or whatever you do at the beach. There are not any sand flees (chitras) here so your ankles will thank you. One thing to be careful about here are the turtle nests. Some are marked and some are not as I personally came to discover when we happened upon a collapsed turtle nest right next to the clubhouse beach entrance. A storm had rolled through about a week prior to our arrival when we, with the help of the security guard, began to scoop out sand around where the supposed nest was. We discovered a trove of baby turtles that had newly hatched, but were unable to escape the sand prison they found themselves in. We helped 88 living baby turtles escape and freely make their way down to the ocean. The beach may have some little nature-tastic surprises for you.

You'll see a bunch of the baby turtles we released making their way to the water in the photo

Panama Baby Turtles playa caracol