About Vista Cañas Book & Nature Retreat

about vista cañas

For the benefit of US.

Have you ever visited a place and your soul felt instantaneously at peace? This is what I felt the very first time I walked on the future site of the Vista Cañas Book & Nature Retreat. If I truly wanted to live a life without regrets, I simply had to buy this property and start creating the sanctuary that has lived in my heart for many years.

After driving the circumference of Panamá in late 2016 in search of our future home, 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. It checked every single one of our boxes—surfing, TREES, monkeys, TREES, a laid back vibe, a (relatively) dry climate, and TREES. It is truly a natural wonderland—without the crowds or hefty price tag.

In early 2018, we committed to a long-term relationship and purchased two plots of land—one for our home and one for Vista Cañas Book & Nature Retreat. The process of the retreat evolving from vision to reality is not going to be a quick one—because life moves slower in Panamá and I need some time to make this major transition—but, it IS happening and it will undoubtedly be quite the ride!

In the meantime, my partner and I will be exploring every nook and cranny of the area and sharing our discoveries on our Playa Venao blog!

A friend of mine told me that Panamá’s national slogan is “For the benefit of the world.” Well, Vista Cañas Book & Nature Retreat is for the benefit of US. It will be our sanctuary, where serenity, adventure and amazing places to curl up with a book co-exist and we can each find exactly what our soul needs.

Here’s more about my vision—A Nature Retreat to Feed Your Soul.

This is a shared journey! Follow Vista Cañas on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss an update AND the opportunity to be one of the very first guests to fall asleep to the mesmerizing sound of waves crashing on the shore and monkeys howling in the jungle.

about cañas & playa venao

The mountainside where the Vista Cañas Book & Nature 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.

Playa Venao

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.

about the owner

Janet Doré
(AKA The Wandering Ex-Housewife)

I’m a lifelong Californian—raised in the north and educated in the south. During my 33 year hiatus in San Diego, I married, raised two kids, found myself while wandering the world, divorced, fled the burbs, incorporated, and committed to hitting my twilight years without regrets and lots of fascinating stories.

My life has been a dot-to-dot journey that has led me to this mountain on Panamá’s Azuero Peninsula. Along the way, I managed to excavate my authentic self under layers upon layers of other people’s beliefs, developed a fierce passion for wandering the world and an insatiable hunger for nature, discovered that I cannot breathe in the typical American life, and eventually knew that my destiny was to create a sanctuary that would feed peoples’ souls. Being an avid reader, I will be incorporating reading into Vista Cañas wherever possible—strategically place hammocks are definitely in the plans!

I look forward to the day when you can join me at my little book and nature retreat!


Me and my adventurous partner in life, Ken

Follow our expat adventures at #OPERATIONEXPAT!

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