Azuero Peninsula: Scenic Contrasts

Jutting out squarely to the south from Panama center, the compact Azuero Peninsula—just 55 miles long and 60 miles wide—is a study in scenic contrasts.

To the east, rolling hills and sugarcane plantations are punctuated by sun kissed colonial towns.

In the sparsely populated west, wild forests tumble down to pristine beaches.

Azuero is encircled by 170 miles of sparkling Pacific Coast—a draw for shorebirds, sea turtles, surfers, and sport fisherman.

Pedasi: El Toro, Punta Mala, and Destiladeros

The fishing village of Pedasi, near the peninsula’s southeastern tip, serves as the gateway to uncrowded beaches including El Toro, Punta Mala, and Destiladeros.

Man on vacation in Panama, surfing the waves off the Pacific Coast

Sport fishing yachts launch from the coast of the Azuero Peninsula on full and half-day charter cruises.

Their targets include Dorado (Mahi-Mahi), Pacific sailfish, wahoo and yellowfin tuna.

Isla Iguana Wildlife Refuge

Isla Iguana Wildlife Refuge, seven miles off the coast of Pedasi, is sometimes called the “most Caribbean” of Panama’s Pacific islands.

Known for its clear waters, white sands, and colorful coral reefs, the island is also an important calving ground for migrating humpback whales.

Half an hour southwest of Pedasi, the Azuero Peninsula’s Playa Venado (Playa Venao) is a tan arc backed by tropical dry forest.

Surfing Playa Venado

The center of its two-mile beach is pounded by surf, tapering off to gentle waves at the far points of its crescent-shaped bay.

These fringe areas are perfect for beginning and intermediate surfers.

Pedasi. Brown sand with reddish-brown rock formations overlooking the calm, light blue ocean Azuero Peninsula, Panama

Venado is not only the best surf spot on the Azuero peninsula, its also one of the best surf spots in the country—featuring reliable right and left breaks and swells up to five feet.

La Madrona and La Playita

Venado is flanked by two other unspoiled Azuero bays: La Madrona to the east and La Playita to the west.

Farther to the west, the beaches of Guanico Abajo and Cambutal are known for consistent, powerful barrels, with swells up to eight feet.

Isla Cañas Wildlife Refuge

The Isla Cañas Wildlife Refuge, 38 miles southwest of Pedasi, is the site of synchronized nestings—called arribadas—of Olive Ridley sea turtles from July to November.

By moonlight, waves of nesting females arrive en masse, each laying an average of 116 eggs per trip.

The overwhelming numbers—up to a thousand nest sites at some beaches—offer a measure of protection from egg loving mammals and shorebirds.

A sunset surfer riding a wave off Panama's Pacific Coast

After 45 to 50 days, the hatchlings emerge, quickly scuttling toward the open ocean.

Parque Nacional Cerro Hoya

The peninsula’s mountainous southwestern corner is home to Parque Nacional Cerro Hoya—512-acres of protected forest, coast and coral reef.

Park residents include scarlet macaws, three species of monkey, ocelots, sloths, and anteaters.

Getting to Cerro Hoya

Cerro Hoya can be accessed by horseback from the village of Jobero (16 miles west of Tonosi), or from Restingue on the west coast.

The eastern access passes through the adjacent La Tronosa Forest Reserve. Full or half-day hiking tours can be arranged in advance.

Guides and permits are essential.


Trips to the Azuero peninsula can easily be combined with time in Herrera Province, Cocle, Veraguas, and the Pacific beach towns on the Interamerican Highway.

Flights from Albrook airport in Panama City reach Pedasi’s airfield in less than an hour.

By road, Pedasi is roughly 5.5 hours from the capital and about 90 minutes from Chitré (the capital of the Herrera Province).

When you travel with LANDED, our team of travel experts and network of local contacts are at your service. We’ll handle the details, freeing you to savor the moments. Call us today at 801.582.2100. Dream big. We’ve got you.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

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