Usually, backpackers traveling through Panama‘s Chiriquí province are heading to Bouquet’s breathtaking highlands, Bocas del Toro’s Caribbean islands, El Valle de Anton’s luscious hiking trails, or Santa Catalina’s beaches. While all these attractions are well worth a visit, often one can miss some hidden gems in Chiriquí, one of which is the Playa Las Lajas’ Pacific beach area. There is a relatively undeveloped area around Playa Las Lajas, which adds a lot of charm. It’s as if you’ve stumbled into a hidden paradise that’s all your own, and they left you with a secret you never had to hear from the other backpackers making their way through Panama.
Where is Playa Las Lajas?
Playa Las Lajas lies on the Pacific coast of Panama, in the southern portion of Chiriquí. Chiriquí is well known as a rancher’s province in Panama since a large part of its land is agricultural. Whether for subsistence or commercial use, a large majority of its inhabitants engage in agriculture or livestock farming. Chiriquí, however, includes some of the most popular tourist destinations in Panama: The Bouquet highlands, where tourists can try the world-famous Geisha coffee and climb up the largest volcano in Panama, and David, Panama’s second-largest city. The province of Chiriquí is not usually famous for its beaches, but on the southern border of Chiriquí, there are some beautiful shorelines, such as Playa Las Lajas and Boca Chica.
Why visiting Playa Las Lajas?
Panama has quite a bit to offer in beaches, with over 2,800 kilometers of coastline. But if you’re looking for a lovely beach with no tourist hordes, then Playa Las Lajas is the best spot for you. Beyond the rolling waves, you can see the islands of Ensenada and Silva de Afuera from the beach just off the coast. And the Playa Las Lajas coastline is so long and so straight that the sand and palm trees surrounding the beach appear to extend in either direction infinitely. The best component is that almost no one is there. There is no competition in Playa Las Lajas to set up your towel for space, and there is no one playing loud music and disrupting your peace. Also, no vendors are trying to sell you cheaply-made bracelets at outrageous prices, just you and the sound of crashing waves and swaying palms in the breeze. The stunning natural beauty of Playa Las Lajas will capture your attention as you soak up the sun and splash in the waves of your hidden beach, losing track of time.
What to do in Playa Las Lajas?
Although the lack of tranquility and lack of tourism is a part of the charm of Playa Las Lajas, there are still various activities to do there, aside from the admiring scenery. To name a few, it’s great to surf around Isla Silva de Afuera, especially if you like getting the waves all to yourself. The island owner will come and pick you up from Playa Las Lajas and take you sailing for the day. Around Playa Las Lajas, there are plenty of casual dining options. A selection of Western menu options is available by Brisas Del Pacífico and Restaurante Refugio Tropical and tropical Panamanian dishes, including some of the freshest fish you can find. The Margaritas Cabañas Restaurant offers delicious Latin food, and of course, you can drink delicious margaritas while enjoying the stunning ocean view.
Beach Massage Panama is right next to Las Lajas Beach Resort, where you can get a relaxing Lomi Lomi Nui or Shiatsu style massage while enjoying the ocean breeze. Also, you can stop by Las Lajas Beach Divers and go scuba diving for a day with beginner-friendly instructors and have a chance to see manta rays, tortoises, and eels close up if you want to do something a little more fun and adventurous. Las Lajas is off the beaten path, yet to keep you amused, there are still plenty of events. It is important to note that Las Lajas is not a town frequented by tourists, and there are no listings on Google for so many of the companies in the city.
Where to stay in Playa Las Lajas?
Playa Las Lajas is perfect for a day trip along the Pan-American Highway to break up a long drive, but there’s nothing like waking up to the scent of the ocean and the sound of crashing waves. Here’s where you can stay if you want to spend the night in Las Lajas:
Johnny Fiestas hostel
Johnny Fiestas is a hostel right on the beach with beds starting at the ocean for just $10 if you’re looking for cheap accommodation and a friendly, social setting. It is quick to have a good time at Johnny Fiestas, whether you are hanging out at the bar and singing karaoke with the other guests or soaking up the sun in a hammock. There is wifi available in the rooms, and the staff is friendly and helpful.
Las Lajas Beach Resort
Las Lajas Beach Resort provides a magnificent view of the beach that you can enjoy from their restaurant, bar, or when relaxing in their outdoor pool, if you are willing to shell out a little bit more cash for something more upscale. Rooms begin at $70 at Las Lajas Beach Resort, but it is well worth considering the accommodations that come with your room, such as free wifi, room service, and easy access to the bar, restaurant, and Playa Las Lajas beach.
The Pony Beach Resort and Suites Show
The Pony Beach Resort and Suites Show is about 10 minutes from the ocean, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get into the sea. They have a lovely outdoor pool surrounded by cabanas, and there is a bar next to the outdoor pool plus a fountain of water. The rooms begin at $50.the staff is helpful and friendly, and you have access to free wifi, restaurants, and bars in the resort’s facility.
Isla Silva de Afuera Surf Hostel
After a day of surfing or snorkeling, if you want to stay overnight, Isla Silva de Afuera Surf Hostal and Cabana charges $15 per night and sits right on a white sand beach that’s perfect for surfing, snorkeling, or just lounging out in the sun. Brisas Del Pacífico also provides many accommodations starting at $65, with free breakfast, in addition to their delicious food that you can get from the room service.
As mentioned above, there are restaurants in the hotels and resorts, but if you want to get out and experience some local restaurants while visiting Playa Las Lajas in Panama, you could try La Estrella del Pacifico. In La Estrella del Pacifico, the food is simple by American standards but very delicious, and the service is spectacular. They will treat you with much kindness and friendliness. Besides, there is a place to park your car, and also you can bring your pet if you would like to.
How to get to Playa Las Lajas?
Taking a bus or taxi from David is the fastest way to get to Las Lajas. There is a direct bus to San Felix that departs every 30 minutes from 6:30 to 18:30 from David’s central bus station. The bus takes about 90 minutes and will cost you $5 depending on how many different stops the driver makes to drop off the locals. The bus leaves you at the San Felix bus station, which is on the Pan-American Highway, and you can take a taxi from there to Playa Las Lajas, which takes an estimated 10 minutes or so. There is a supermarket across the street from the San Felix bus stop, where taxis are still available during the day.
The other choice is to catch a taxi from David, which you can also find at the central bus station if catching the bus sounds like too much of a challenge. Currently, if you decide to take a taxi would cost you about $20 everywhere, but you’ll get there in a little over 60 minutes as you don’t have to think about finding a cab in San Felix. If you have rented a car and want to drive from David to Las Lajas, follow the Pan-American Highway to Panama City until you enter San Felix and turn right at the big “Las Lajas” sign with the palm trees. Then continue to follow this path until you hit the beach. In reality, for a small price, you can drive your car right to the beach and park it underneath the canopies.