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Welcome to Playa Venao, Panamá—where the jungle meets the surf and the crowds are nowhere to be found! This laid back community is home to the Azuero Peninsula’s best surfing and offers its visitors LOTS of opportunities to create lifetime memories and rejuvenate their souls in a stunning natural setting.
(If you’re here, it’s likely you already know why you should come here—if you’re on the fence, here’s some convincing reasons to come to Panama and Playa Venao: Why Visit Panama?)
Take time to leave cities, at least once in a year, and go to some natural place, hills, sea, jungles, rivers, where you see nothing but nature…where you only hear chirping of birds, clinkering of trees, murmuring of winds, splashes of water in the river, and uproar of waterfalls. | GIRDHAR JOSHI
About Playa Venao, Panamá
Playa Venao is located on Panama’s Azuero Peninsula in southern Panamá. The first thing you’ll likely notice is the natural beauty of the area. On one side is the Pacific Ocean with black sand beaches, surfing, lush vegetation that’s home to monkeys, coatimundi, agoutis, iguanas, anteaters, birds, and more. On the other is rolling hills, working farms with herds of grazing Brahmin cattle, patches of jungle and hidden waterfalls.
The water is warm and the vibe is casual so you can leave your wetsuit and fancy clothes at home! (Need help packing? Check out our Panama Packing List!)
It won’t take long to notice something else—the lack of crowds. Unlike most popular beach and surf destinations, Playa Venao takes the whole laid back thing super seriously. Even in the high (and dry) season, you can enjoy solitude on the most popular beaches and never get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. (Cow jams, however, ARE a possibility.)
Because Playa Venao is blissfully undiscovered by the masses, development and services are a bit more limited than the crowded areas. There is one (overpriced) mini market, several restaurants and bars, a couple souvenir shops, and lots of places offering surf lessons, board rentals and tours and activities. There’s a gas station coming soon and, word has it, a reasonably priced grocery store is on the way.
Accommodations are a mix of basic hostels, surf camps, small eco resorts, boutique hotels, and private Airbnb/VRBO rentals. (When it’s open, Vista Cañas Nature & Book Retreat will be totally unique to the area—offering a stunning natural setting, mind blowing views, access to virtually private beaches, lots of places to read, and hot showers!)
The closest cities are Las Tablas (about a 1-1/4 hour drive) and Chitré (about a 1-3/4 hour drive). It’s doubtful you’ll need to go to either of these places as the quaint town of Pedasi, just 40 minutes up the road, has most everything you’ll need during your visit—including grocery stores, more souvenirs, leisure and fishing supplies, alcohol, gas stations and more restaurants.
Playa Venao is one of the safest, friendliest, cleanest and chill areas in Panamá. If you’re on the fence about coming here, here are some fabulous reasons why you need to get on the next plane—Why Visit Panama? Your reward will be the experience of a lifetime!
How to Get to Playa Venao from Panama City
Playa Venao is located on the Azuero Peninsula in the Tonosi District of the Los Santos Province of Panamá. It’s approximately 360 kilometers (224 miles) southwest of Panama City and 34 kilometers (21 miles) southwest of the town of Pedasi.
Theoretically, there are several ways you can get to Playa Venao involving planes, busses, shuttles and automobiles. However, when you take into consideration effort, cost and, most importantly, mobility once you’re here, I highly recommend renting a car in Panama City and driving the 5-1/2 hours here. (It’s not a difficult drive—the roads are paved and the highways are smooth! Just drive the speed limit because you’re likely to get radared every few kilometers.)
There are a couple of important things to know about renting a car in Panamá:
- Spend the extra money and get an all wheel or 4 wheel drive. You’ll need it just to get up some driveways in the area!
- Try as you might, no one can escape the mandatory $28/day liability insurance. (Yes, your credit card company provides insurance, but I can almost guarantee it’s only collision coverage. Read my FAQ about renting a car in Panamá for all the details and my recommendations on which companies to use.)
Other ways to get to Playa Venao from Panama City include:
FLY: There are no longer flights from Panama City to the tiny airport in Pedasi—unless you’re willing to drop about $700 for a round trip private charter.
Although you can fly from Albrook Airport (PAC) in Panama City to Chitre for approximately $200 per person round trip, then rent a car (Thrifty is your best option as it’s IN the airport) and drive the two hours to Playa Venao, I still stand by my suggestion to rent a car in Panama City and drive. You can check flights here.
SHUTTLE: Venao Tours<