Puerto Armuelles, Panama – Unique & Charming Beach Town

View of ocean, blue sky, swirl of white clouds, pier
View of Puerto Armuelles’ waterfront, taken from its downtown waterfront park (Photo by Walda)

Puerto Armuelles, Panama is the only true beach town in Panama

It is right on the beach.

You’d think in a country with so much coastline that there would be many towns on the beach.

That is not the case.

Many towns in Panama are near, but not on, the beach.

Contenders for “True” Panama Beach Town

Pedesi and Tonosi on the Azuero Peninsula come to mind. Nice towns. We particularly like Pedesi. But the beach is quite the hike from those towns.

Well I guess, San Carlos qualifies as a town on the beach. But San Carlos lacks a downtown center and is a much smaller than Puerto Armuelles.

Panama does have cities on the beach, like Panama City and Colon. It also has resort and vacation home areas on the beach, like Coronado. As well as a number of smaller fishing and surfing-orientated villages.

Puerto Armuelles is Panama’s only true beach town.

About Puerto Armuelles

beachfront park, palm trees, cafe, young girl & man on tire structure
Puerto Armuelles’s beach front park in town’s center.
(My husband Reyn, daughter Blaise, & others pictured)

Puerto Armuelles is also a charming town that values its beach location.

It has a park right on the beach (photo above was taken from that park). As well as another park and playground across the street.

(You can see more photos of Puerto here.)

Its pier, although badly in need of repair, is very popular with those who love to fish.

Puerto Armuelles has a over 20 thousand residents, including a growing population of expats.

Puerto has just the right population to make the town vibrant, even bustling at times.

Click Here for Aerial Tour Puerto Armuelles On A Flying Trike.

Chiquita Banana & Puerto Armuelles 

For eighty years Puerto Armuelles was a Chiquita Banana company town.

White wooden house with red roof
The Las Palmas neighborhood was built by Chiquita Banana for its executives.

Chiquita’s engineers and designers put their stamp on everything from the city’s street grid to wooden houses on stilts, of which Chiquita built by the thousands.

The Chiquita look is the classic tropical colonial look that one would expect to see in an old movie such as the African Queen.

With its broad overhangs and hardwood ventilated window openings, the Chiquita houses provide good shade, and are raised above the damp and the bugs of the tropics.

The spaces in some of the executive houses are absolutely huge, with ten foot ceilings, and open floor plans of as much as 3000 square feet per floor.

Hot pink wooden house with flowers and white cement fence
Carmen’s house tend to be both colorful and duplexes. Chiquita built the neighborhood for its dock workers.

These houses, painted every color of the rainbow, give a very charming and unique look to Puerto.

Chiquita built whole neighborhoods to house its different classes of workers. All of these houses have the Chiquita look.

Of course, the town also has the typical cement house you find throughout Central and South America.

The “Chiquita Factor” has made Puerto Armuelles far different from any other Panamanian town.




2 story wooden buildings along asphalt road
The San Jose neighborhood, near downtown. Built by Chiquita for lower management.

To learn more about the various areas of Puerto Armuelles, visit its neighborhoods.

Where is Puerto Armuelles

For most of the time Chiquita was here, Puerto Armuelles was only accessible only by train or boat.

Puerto now has a well-maintained paved road connecting it to the rest of Chiriqui and beyond.

(In fact, road is being expanded from its 2 lanes to 4 lanes.  The work on that is now almost fully completed.)

Puerto is about 40 minutes away from the Costa Rica border crossing at Paso Canoas. Pasa Canoas has a number of good shopping malls, as well as a Burger King and Subway.

Google Map with red pointer showing location of Puerto Armuelles Panama
Puerto Armuelles is right on the Pacific Ocean in the popular Chiriqui Province of Panama.

It is about an hour or so drive from David. David is the largest city in the Chiriqui Province.

David is significantly larger than Puerto. Although, Puerto Armuelles is the 2nd largest city in Chiriqui.

You can buy pretty much everything you need in Puerto Armuelles from building supplies and cell phones, to pesto, and broccoli. However, there is definitely more selection in David.

David is the big shopping mecca in the area. They even have something like a Costco there. It is called PriceSmart.

We go to David every two or three months, mostly to get some specialty items and to do some bulk shopping at PriceSmart.

We enjoy going to David. It seems there is something new there every time we visit. Our favorite dentist is there as well.

We like to go shopping in David. But we are always happy to get back home to Puerto Armuelles.

Click to Browse Our Puerto Armuelles Real Estate Listings.

Please comment below.

Please Leave Your Comments Below

  1. Interesting website. We are looking at moving to the Costa Rica / Panama area in the next year or so. Perhaps to build an upscale B & B on or near a beach. We spent some time in one in Costa Rica a year ago and are intrigued with the idea. Will continue to look at your website and see what you are doing. Any updates from you are welcome.
    All the best, Bruce Baldwin

    • Hi Bruce,
      Glad you found my site useful. Fabulous idea.
      It would be great to have another B&B in town.

      If you want to get updates, please sign up for my newsletter.
      You can do that near the top of every page of my site.

      Perhaps we’ll see you in Puerto Armuelles someday.

  2. Yvonne Tucker

    What is the best way to get from Paso Canoas to Puerto Armuelles? Any idea of the cost of a taxi from there or David. Could fly from Palma Norte or Quepos to David. Which would be more cost effective and timely? Thank you so much.

    • hi again,
      A taxi from Paso Canoas to Puerto costs about $15-20, from David, about $40.
      A bus cost alot less. $2-$4 dollars.

      I don’t know the plane schedules of Costa Rica. But if you get to David, it is very easy to get to Puerto.
      Take the Interamericana to Paso Canoas. Turn left at border (the only road there). The road ends in Puerto Armuelles.
      Do not cross the border. Google maps will tell you to cross the border, don’t.

      It takes 30 -45 minutes to drive from Paso Canoas to Puerto Armuelles. Double that time to get there from David.

      Hope that helps.

  3. Yvonne Tucker

    As a tourist coming from Costa Rica for one night what is the best way to get from the border to Puerto Armuelles?

    • Hi Yvonne,
      The road to Puerto Armuelles is right at Paso Canoas. When you cross the border from Costa Rica, take the road (the only road) to the right. It is going toward the Pacific Ocean.

  4. Sue

    I plan to permanently relocate in 3 yrs. Coming from New England I want to live where the climate is not an Outward Bound experience and my money goes further. A beach is at the top of my list. I’ve been reading about Costa Rica but am troubled by the rise in crime. PA sounds/looks lovely! I would want to rent longterm, a small place for a reasonable price. Any thoughts on the feasibility of my plan?

  5. Dr. Pat

    I enjoy your site and your e-news letters. I have a residence in Tambor, CR but I have been researching Panama now for just over un ano. Mi esposa y yo are looking to retire in a few years mainly to exit the extremely high tension lifestyles of North America. Puerto seems a lot like Tambor just it has more people and amenities. I would like to continue providing chiropractic and rehabilitation services if I locate there. Do you believe there would be a need for a professional like myself? We are possibly looking to come to Panama this summer for dos semanas en Agosto.

    Dr. Pat

    • Betsy

      Hi Dr. Pat,

      I was just talking with someone about the high stress, regulation-choked,
      lifestyle in the US. It is much more relaxed in Puerto Armuelles.
      A much saner pace to life. Mostly northerners rail against how slow
      everything takes in Panama. But it is a nice relief from the much faster
      pace in the US and Canada.

      Panamanian Chiropractors (or other professionals) cannot practice in Panama,
      unless married to a Panamanian. There are expat chiropractors that operate
      “under-the-radar”. But you are taking on some risk doing that.

      Thanks for your appreciative words about my site and newsletter.
      It is always nice to hear that people like it.

  6. Ruth

    Fantastic information. Yours is the most interesting and fun to read website about Panama that I have seen so far. I am seriously considering moving to Panama, and will be flying there soon, within the next few weeks. I am wondering what the climate is like there. Also cost of living which I will try to find online.
    Again, beautiful site!

    • Betsy

      It is best if you sign up for the newsletter at the top of the page. This is because you will need to respond to an email confirming your subscription.


  7. Richard Morrison

    Hi Betsy,

    I am considering coming to panama in the next month or so for a couple of months.
    I would like to stay in a condo on or near beach area. Your area seems to be what I would be very interested in retiring to. I love to surf fish and kayak fish in calm waters.
    Are there affordable rentals near the water ? I live in New England, what is the best way to get to Puerto from Boston MA. Is it better to fly to Costa Rica and drive from there with a company
    What is the most popular way for people to travel there? Multble flights or drive from Panama City
    Or other airport.
    Any suggestion or help would be greatly appreciated.

    Many Thank,

  8. Jack Leonard

    Hi Betsy, I first came across you website kind of by accident but have been back a couple of times on purpose.
    I have fond memories of Puerto Armuelles from the early 60’s when I arranged a golf tournament between a team from United Fruit Co and Hadquarters US Army Caribean from Fort Amador. At that time, I was the Army’s community relations officer for all Latin America except Mexico. We flew into the airport on the golf course and had a wonderful time. One of the people in our group was an American Catholic priest who had formerly been the pastor in Puerto Armuelles.

    Most likely all of the people I met during that visit have either died or have moved on to other places. One of them was a young woman who had recently graduated from a Catholic women’s college in Albany, NY. Her father was a manager of some kind for United Fruit.

    I’ve enjoyed your website and wish I could visit Puerto Armeulles again but that’s not likely.

    Jack Leonard

    • Betsy & Reyn

      Hi Jack,

      I’m glad you found my site and that you enjoy it.

      I hear from a number of people who have fond memories of Puerto Armuelles.
      A couple of months ago I talked with a man who was the first baby born in
      Puerto Armuelles. As you know, United Fruit Company (now Chiquita) built
      this town.

      I hope you can make it to visit Puerto. I imagine you will find it changed.
      It is no longer a company town in the 1960s. But still a nice place to live.

      Best wishes,

  9. Barb

    Hi! Puerto Armuelles sounds really nice. We have yet to make our first trip to Panama, as we look for a place to settle and retire, and what I’ve read here makes me want to put P.A. on our “definite visit” list. (We hope to come in 2014.) My only concern is the weather. We’re currently in Baltimore, Maryland, where summers are VERY hot and humid. The humidity is especially hard for me to handle. Could you say in Fahrenheit degrees how cool and how hot it tends to get in Puerto Armuelles? What is the typical level of humidity? (If this info is on the site already and I just haven’t run across it, please direct me.) Thanks so very much!

    • Betsy & Reyn

      Hi Barb,
      My husband is from the DC area and we go there still to visit relatives, so I have some idea of the Baltimore weather.

      My husband always says that summers in DC are much hotter and more humid than Panama.

      Also, compared to Puerto Armuelles at least, the east coast of the US also has alot more bugs. I grew up on Long Island, NY.
      I used to be eaten alive by mosquitoes in New York. I have never experienced that level of bugs in Puerto Armuelles, or in Panama.
      Except in Bocas del Toro, I have not been bothered by bugs much in Panama. Although, a friend of mine in Puerto, who lives on a ravine with
      a stream running through it, does get bothered by mosquitoes.

      I should really provide information about Puerto’s weather on my site. Great idea.
      It is especially good since when you look up the weather for Puerto Armuelles online it it giving you the weather
      for David, not Puerto. They don’t have the same weather. Because of its position relative to the mountains and ocean,
      it rains lot more in David than in Puerto Armuelles.

      So about Puerto Armuelles’ weather. It is the tropics so Puerto is humid, but as I mentioned, not as muggy and humid as DC in the summer.
      It is cooler in the rainy season than in the dry season. For instance, in the rainy season I usually put on an over shirt when
      I get up in the morning, but I don’t do that in the dry season. Of course, I wake up early, about 5 am.

      I would say that the temperatures (in Fahrenheit) in Puerto range from a low of 73 to a high of 88.
      It does spike up into the low 90s at times during the dry season.

      The usual temperature is in the low to mid-80s.

      I hope that is helpful.
      As I mentioned in my other recent replies, I have been traveling. That is why I am late in replying to your question.

      Best wishes.

      • Jim Rabb

        Been wondering what happened to your monthly newsletters, but I see that you have been away for a while.
        Anyway, back to your comment on the weather in Puerto. Here in the states if you live close or on the beach the ocean breeze seems to help with the humidity compared to inland. Do you get any kind of constant breeze in the Puerto Armuelles area to help with the humidity??

        • Betsy & Reyn

          Hi Jim,

          I just sent off the Newsletter. You should get it within minutes.

          Yes, the ocean breeze helps with coolness & humidity here. And yes, Puerto Armuelles enjoys a nice sea breeze.
          Thanks for your patience about my Newsletter.

  10. RB

    Beach Town and “Deep Water Ocean Port”, with a Oil Super Tanker unloading facility, an Oil pipeline terminating there, and future plans for a Container Port and a possible 400,000 barrel of oil per day Refinery do not sound like compatible uses for a nice beach town to me.

    Good luck to you buying there.

    • Betsy & Reyn

      Thanks for commenting, however, you may not have all your facts correct.

      For instance, the refinery project is trotted out each and every election period.
      It is for the promise of new jobs. I think people would fall over in shock if it
      actually happened. Also, given the future of oil in general, it seems an unlikely project.
      Regardless of what happens, none of these possible future projects are located
      in Puerto Armuelles itself, but in the areas outside of it.

  11. Abe

    After spending the entire October 2012 in Boquete, I fell in love with Panama. Now I am looking to rent perhaps in Puerto Armuelles for this Sep and Oct. Hopefully I can purchase a property and more. I have to get somewhere quiet and peacefull.
    – Abe

    • Betsy & Reyn

      Hi Abe, You are very smart to be spending time in the places that interest you before buying.
      Boquete is very nice. I was just got back from Volcan which is on the other side of the Volcano from Boquete.
      They both have similar and cooler mountain climate. Puerto Armuelles is warmer and dryer, and it has the beach!
      The beach for us is a necessity. So while we like to visit the mountain areas, we need to live by the ocean.

      It is really a matter of preference. I am sure you will have fun exploring and deciding.
      Please feel free to ask any question you may have here.

  12. Virginia Esbribi Miralles

    Thank you for all your nice comments on Puerto Armuelles. I’ve been living here on and off, but since 1980, this is my home. And I love it!… Yes, a lot of things need some lifting up, but we do have nice sites to visit and the people are mostly nice and friendly. God bless you and your family.

    • Betsy & Reyn

      Hi Carol,

      Yes, you can get financing on a single family home as an American.

      In fact, Panamanian banks have been making it easier for foreigners to borrow money from them.
      Currently, foreigners can qualify for up to 70% financing of the purchase price. The maximum loan term is 25 years.
      You cannot borrow if you are 75 years old or older.

      To get loan for the maximum term of 25 years you must be 50 years old or under.
      You can still get a loan if you are over 50, but the term of the loan change accordingly.
      For example, if you are 65 years old, your loan can only be for 10 years at most (75 year old restriction – 65 years old = 10 year term).

      I hope that helps.

  13. Marge Epley

    My husband and I are coming to Puerto November 27 to December 09, 2012. We want to explore the area for a possible relocation in the near future. ( We are from Eastern Washington, near Spokane)
    Are there any places to stay in Puerto? We have made inquiries to Bamboo Bay as well as a place listed
    VRBO 255344.
    Thank you for your assistance.

  14. Hi,
    Tried this earlier but don’t think it went through ? Love the beach front listings but what about off the beach, a little out of town, maybe a little cheaper. Would like to stay in the 20k, cash, or below range for a lot or land. And are building materials readily available ? Would like to build a 24’+30′ “A” frame house.
    Dennis & Debbie Clay

    • Betsy & Reyn

      Hi again Dennis,

      We have some listing – not yet on the web site – that are off the beach and out of town. Yes they are cheaper and in your range.

      Yes building materials are available.

      My husband is a builder. If you have questions about materials and the like, he is the guy to talk to.

      Give us a call. Right now, it will go to voice mail, but my husband will call you back and you can chat about all your questions.

      Our USA number is 206-734-4778.

      Best wishes,

  15. Leigha

    Thanks we liked your video. We are planning a trip to Panama in August – Sept of this year. We will fly into Panama city and rent a car or SUV. Where is the best place to rent a SUV for 4-6 week?
    Then we would like to talk with you about property and leasing Real Estate out safely. Thanks
    T and L

  16. tom cronk

    Hola,…I’m looking for lodging near Punta Burica…I live part of the year in Zancudo CR…but ..every 90 days we have to leave the beach…for 3 days….Could you please porvide me with any.small hotels or lodges on the beach…

    • Betsy & Reyn

      Hello, Punta Burica is beautiful. There are a few places to stay.

      Starting from the furthest out on Punta Burica there is Tigre Salvaje.

      Tigre Salvaje is a wildlife sanctuary located on the Pacific Coast at the end of Punta Burica near the border of Costa Rica.
      The sancutary is actively trying to save several different endangered species. Primarily monkeys, including the Red Backed Squirrel Monkey and 3 types of endangered sea turtles.

      They also have places to stay. If you cannot get ahold of them (which can be hit or miss), they promise to accommodate you if you just show up.
      This is the link for them:


      I have never stayed there, but friends of ours have and they recommend it.

      Heading back toward Puerto Armulles, you can walk to the next place, Mono Feliz.

      Mono Feliz is wonderful. We have stayed at Mono Feliz many times and love it. It is more rustic than any of the other option that I am listing here.
      However, you can usually get to feed a banana to one of the many wild monkeys that the owner has befriended over the years. Here is a Youtube video of ‘Juancho’, the owner, and feeding the monkeys: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNGIygBihag

      Mono Feliz is harder to get ahold of than Tigre Salva at times.
      However, if you show up they will always accommodate you.
      Phone (from Panama): 595-0388
      this link has some information about Mono Feliz as well

      Further along, in La Balsa, there may still be a hotel on the water. I haven’t been out there in awhile so I am not sure.

      Hooked on Panama is about 17 kilometers from Puerto Armuelles.
      It is a nice place on the beach and with a swimming pool. For more info go to:

      Soon I will have a page on our site dedicated to where to stay, but until then I hope this suffices.

  17. Betsy & Reyn

    I am writing “If I had Only Known”, our Panama Guide, as my time allows.
    Time is always more limited than I would like, or anticipate.

    Submitted your email to be the first to learn of our Panama Guide’s publication.
    We are striving to make it the best possible.

    Also, We do not rent our properties at this time.


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