The mountainside where the Vista Cañas Nature & Book Retreat will some day be perched is located halfway between the tiny community of Cañas and the popular surf community of Playa Venao.
This section of the Azuero peninsula offers a variety of landscapes, fascinating wildlife and abundant activities—mountains, jungle, farmland, monkeys, birds, beaches, surfing, fishing, hiking and more.
Cañas is a “corregimiento”—the smallest administrative subdivision—in the district of Tonosí and the province of Los Santos along the southern tip of the Azuero Peninsula. It’s population has hovered above and below 1,000 over the last several decades. Don’t blink as you drive through it or you might miss the two fondas (outdoor restaurants) and tiny market.
Cañas’ claim to fame is Isla de Cañas, a national reserve with a 14 kilometer stretch of beach that is the seasonal nesting ground of the Olive Ridley sea turtle. Although not technically an island, getting there does require the help of locals in boats. When the season hits, a guided tour of the mangrove and turtle nesting grounds is a must.
About 10 kilometers up the road in the direction of Pedasi is the surf “town” of Playa Venao. At its center is a three kilometer long crescent-shaped sandy beach that offers some of the best surfing on the Azuero Peninsula. The waves are bigger in the center and calmer on the outer edges making it an ideal surfing spot for all skill levels—and the perfect place to boogie board, SUP and wind surf.
Playa Venao is a peaceful haven in this crazy world—even at its busiest, it’s blissfully uncrowded. It is home to a small eco resort, a few hostels, several restaurants and shops, and a handful of boutique hotels.
A trip to the grocery store requires a drive (or bus ride) to the quaint town of Pedasi, 34 kilometers down the road.
You can read more about Playa Venao in my Playa Venao Guide.
Those who will stay at Vista Cañas will have access to two virtually private beaches—Playa Madroño and Playa Raya—known for their surfing, lack of crowds, and natural beauty.
On our Panamá reconnaissance mission in late 2016, my partner and I fell madly in love with the slice of the Azuero Peninsula that includes Playa Venao, Cañas and the quaint town of Pedasi.
In early 2018, a couple months after watching the sunset from the future site of Vista Cañas, I was the proud, excited and petrified owner of the plot of land that will be home to a tiny sanctuary that had lived inside my heart for decades.
I’ve come to believe that we humans need a safe, peaceful and quiet haven to save our souls from extinction. When life gets crazy, nature and books have always grounded me—so Vista Cañas will have an abundance of both.
The library will be well stocked with real books and well-stocked Kindles and there will be strategically placed hammocks, quiet reading spots, and a fellow book lover who adores meaningful conversation.
Mother Nature will provide the sound of waves crashing on the shore, trees visited by howler and capuchin monkeys (and more), direct access to two virtually private beaches, a meandering estuary, sea caves, breeching whales, and a sea turtle preserve.
When complete, the retreat will have one three-bedroom main house and two free-standing casitas. The process of Vista Cañas transforming from vision to reality is not going to be a quick one—life moves slower in Panamá and we need time to make this major transition—but, it is well underway! We hope o begin welcoming guests in early 2022. In the meantime, I will be exploring all the nooks and crannies of the area at every opportunity and sharing my discoveries in the Things to Do section and our blog! (You can read more my vision for Vista Cañas here—A Nature Retreat to Feed Your Soul.)
Come with me on this crazy journey! You can find me on Facebook and Instagram—and you can subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss an update AND the opportunity to be one of the very first guests to read a book to the sound of crashing waves and howling monkeys.