The Neighborhoods of Puerto Armuelles, Panama

One of the things that makes Puerto Armuelles unique is its neighborhoods.

Puerto Armuelles has distinct neighborhoods, most with a unique feel and look.  

In part, this is because of the town’s history. 

Starting in the late 1920s, Chiquita Banana built Puerto Armuelles from scratch. Chiquita designed and built its neighborhoods to house different classes of workers.

Unfortunately, it was a time, especially when combined with Chiquita’s colonial & company town attitude, when segregating people by race and class was much more acceptable.

Chiquita House Style & Materials

Chiquita built wooden houses up on stilts. The houses were designed for the tropics with big overhangs and plenty of ventilation.  Over time, some people have enclosed the ground level and made other changes.  But the Chiquita houses are still instantly recognizable.

Originally Chiquita built all its houses out of North American Red Cedar.   They shipped it down from Oregon.  Chiquita used Red Cedar because it is resistant to both rot and insect infestation.

Puerto’s Chiquita Neighborhoods

Chiquita Banana built 5 neighborhoods in Puerto Armuelles.  Each with its own unique feel and look.  It also created Puerto’s street system, airport, 9-hole golf course, English school, and a club house.

  • Las Palmas for its executives
  • Spanish Town (aka Bella Vista) for middle-management
  • San Jose for lower management
  • Carmen for its dock workers
  • Downtown – its commercial area, its playground & gazebo park

Neighborhoods of Puerto Armuelles

Many of the non-Chiquita-built neighborhoods in Puerto Armuelles also have their own distinctive feel and look.

Many people ask me about an area’s proximity to the beach.  So, I have organized Puerto’s neighborhoods into two categories:  beach or not beach.

Beach Neighborhoods

In-Town

  • Carmen – on the waterfront and just south of downtown.  Chiquita built this neighborhood for its dock workers.  It’s knick name used to be Silver City because the workers made so much money it was as if the streets were made of silver. It is made up mostly of brightly-colored wooden housing.   It is a high density neighborhood and can be noisy.  For these reasons, it is not yet popular with expats.

Photos of Carmen – click to make larger

  • San Vicente – just south of Carmen. San Vicente is a beach community with large lots and a sleepy feel.  This neighborhood is valued for its proximity to downtown, its quiet spacious feel, and its long & wonderful beachfront.  It is home to 2 of Puerto’s best hotels and is increasingly popular with expats.  San Vicente is our pick for the best in-city neighborhood.  Given the growing interest in the neighborhood, it appears that others agree with us.  (Interested in San Vicente? See property for sale in the San Vicente neighborhood of Puerto Armuelles, Panama)
  • Pueblo Nuevo – located at northern edge of downtown.  Pueblo Nuevo is no more than a jumbled intersection of 2 or 3 streets with houses and small commercial storefronts.  Most of the buildings look like they need to be torn down.  The beach front in Pueblo Nuevo is really a beach walk along the top of the break wall. It is a delightful walk, but the housing and fencing, with some exceptions, is pretty dilapidated.  In the future it may be a valuable commercial area – but you’ll have a long wait, unless a big investor decides to develop it all at once.
  • El Porvenir – begins just north of Rio Mar’s beachfront and continues along the beach until the San Bartolo river mouth.  The area is dotted with mangrove swamps and bog land (think bugs). The big attraction of El Porvenir continues to be the long-standing rumor that it will be the site of the new multi-modal pier.  This rumored pier will be a new harbor for sport and commercial boats, container ships, storage and more.  All of the beachfront in El Porvenir has long since been bought by big investors.  These big investors are motivated by the possibility of cashing in, if and when, the new pier facility is built.  After much research and investigating properties, we did not buy in El Porvenir.  The area is not pretty nor inexpensive.  We feel it it is too risky an investment for all but the big boys.  El Porvenir may do great, but without the right political connections, you may not.

Out-of-Town

  • Pez de Oro – the first neighborhood north of the San Barolo River (see map above).  San Barolo river is at the northern edge of Puerto Armuelles proper.  Everything north of the river mouth is outside of the 10 kilometer limit.  Pez de Oro is a 5 minute drive from downtown Puerto. It is similar to the Cucuy neighborhood, but 15 minutes closer to town. Pez de Oro is a quiet place with a natural harbor and the widest beaches around.  Currently, Pez de Oro is under-valued. However, it is increasingly attracting investors that recognize under-valued gems. (Interested in Pez de Oro? Explore our property for sale in the Pez de Oro neighborhood of Puerto Armuelles, Panama)
  • Corazon de Jesus – a small beach neighborhood north of Pez de Oro.   It is 10 minutes by car and 15 minutes by bike from downtown Puerto Armuelles. Corazon de Jesus has about 225 lots on a street grid 4 blocks deep and 3 blocks wide.  The neighborhood is becoming quite popular with expats.  Almost all of the beach front lots are owned by expats retirees.  More and more of the back lots are being bought by expat retirees and investors alike.  Corazon de Jesus is hands down our family’s favorite beach.  (Interested in Corazon de Jesus? Check out property for sale in the Corazon de Jesus neighborhood of Puerto Armuelles, Panama)
  • Coronado –  5 minutes north of Corazon de Jesus.  Coronado is a small beach neighborhood, but with smaller lots than Corazon de Jesus.  The lots in Coronado are typically 20 x 20 meters, as compared to the usual 30 x 30 meter lots found in Corazon de Jesus. Coronado is becoming popular with investors.  In fact, Puerto Armuelles’ most impressive new house is located on the beachfront in Coronado.
  • Cucuy –  5 minutes north of Coronado, which makes it 20 minutes from downtown Puerto Armuelles.  Cucuy is a small rural beach neighborhood.  The road out to Cucuy is still an unimproved dirt road that becomes a washboard in the rainy season.  Interestingly, Cucuy is becoming an Canadian enclave. Some of Puerto Armuelles’ newest and most upscale ex-pat owned homes are here.  However, higher-end homes are increasingly being built in many neighborhoods around Puerto Armuelles.

Not-At-the-Beach Neighborhoods

In-Town

  • Rio Mar – just north of Pueblo Nuevo & across a one-lane bridge spanning a small creek.  Rio Mar is one of Puerto’s largest neighborhoods.  It is made up of mostly cinderblock houses as well as various small commercial buildings. For the most part it has a solid middle-class feel with nice houses.  It does have a beachfront, but mostly it is non-beach.  It’s beachfront, like the beach in El Porvenir and Pueblo Nuevo, is not among the better beaches in Puerto. The beach here is behind a high bulk head and tends to be dirty.  It is a safe quiet neighborhood near town, but it has no special attraction to expats.
  • Las Palmas – is only a few minutes walk away from downtown.  Las Palmas was built by Chiquita exclusively for its executives.  It feels different from other places in Panama, except the canal zone in Panama City.   It feels familiar.  This is because the houses were designed and built by Americans.   There is a feeling of space.  The houses are wooden, built on stilts, and are situated on large lots.  It is quiet, established upper-class neighborhood with no through streets.  There is community member-only swimming pool. In the mornings, you can hear parrots, howler monkeys, and the surf (when the surf is up).  The properties near the top of hill in Las Palmas have have ocean views.  In the States or Canada, this neighborhood would be significantly more expensive. (Interested in Las Palmas? See property for sale in the Las Palmas neighborhood of Puerto Armuelles, Panama)
  • Spanish Town/Bella Vista – is next to Las Palmas neighborhood.   However, while you can walk directly between the 2 neighborhoods, you can not drive directly from one to the other.   The neighborhood is much like Las Palmas, except that the lots are much smaller.  As I mentioned above, this is a neighborhood built by Chiquita for its lower management.
  • Other neighborhoods.   There are 2 dozen or more neighborhoods in Puerto Armuelles. To name a few, there is: Los Angles, San Jose, Aqua Bueno, Flor de lima, Fabrica de Cajas, Santa Fe, Monte Verde, Llano bonito, San Francisco, Returno, Las Lomas, Las Acacias, and Alto San Vicente.  These neighborhoods have no special attraction to ex-pats. That said, you can find an ex-pat or 2 living in most of them.  It could be the place for you. You only need to explore them to find out.

More Neighborhood Info

You can read more about the 6 neighborhoods below.  All of them are in town and at or near the beach.

  • Downtown Puerto
  • Carmen
  • San Vicente
  • Pueblo Nuevo
  • Rio Mar
  • San Jose

For more information on these 6 neighborhoods in Puerto Armuelles, click the link.

Puerto Armuelles is a town with a unique character and feel.
The fact that it is strung along the beautiful Pacific Ocean simply adds to its charms.

To learn more about Puerto Armuelles, start here.

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5 Comments on "The Neighborhoods of Puerto Armuelles, Panama"

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Dagmar Stimpfig
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Hallo, with lots of interest we are studying this website. Thank you for all those informations, descriptions and and and. Since a while we are considering about visiting Panama, maybe even to move to there. Most attractive to us seems the Puerto Armuelles region. The chapter “neighbourhoods in Puerto Armuelles ” is rich of information. Yet what we have to find out more to know whether that place suits us (52 and 50 years old) as well as for our children (15 and 20 years). So also in that sense “neighborhood” is a very important point: is Puerto Armuelles mostly… Read more »
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