What To Do in Puerto Armuelles, Panama

Two women laughing together
Lots of Options for Fun in Puerto Armuelles

Puerto Armuelles Boasts a Wide Range Of Fun Things To Do

Miles of beach, surrounded by hills overlooking the ocean, makes Puerto Armuelles is an outdoor paradise.

 
 
 

11 + Outdoor Things To Do In Puerto Armuelles

(more information on each below these bullets)

  • Fishing

  • Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Spear Fishing

  • Sailing, Windsurfing, and Kiteboarding

  • Horseback Riding

  • Ocean Swimming

  • Kayaking & Rafting

  • Water skiing and Wakeboarding

  • Surfing

  • Baseball

  • Mountain Biking

  • Golf and Tennis

Fishing

Woman hauling a huge Marlin into her boat
Catching A Marlin in Waters Near Puerto Armuelles (photo from Hooked On Panama)

The bay of Charco Azul hosts many species of sport fish, including dolphin, sailfish, wahoo, tuna and grouper.  They can be pretty big, so make sure you have a strong rod.

5 Fishing Options In Puerto Armuelles

1) Go to the nearby fishing lodge, Hooked On Panama.

It is nearby on the Punta Burica peninsula, about a 30 minute drive from Puerto Armuelles. Hooked on Panama offers both fishing tours and transport from David to their lodge.

2) Two hotels in Puerto Armuelles offer fishing tours.

  • The Tsunami Inn offers fishing as well as boating and surf wave tours. It is located by the beach in the San Vicente neighborhood of Puerto Armuelles
  • Heavenly’s Hotel, on the beach, and also in the San Vicente neighborhood offers a half-day and full-day fishing tours.

3) Hire a local fisherman to take you out.

It can be negotiated for a reasonable fee. However, if you want decent fishing gear, you should probably bring your own.

4) Fish from the pier, located downtown.

The pier goes over some very deep waters. However, the pier is in sever disrepair, so caution is needed. However, in just a month or two, a new pier, a floating one, is scheduled to be built along side the old one.

5) You can simply surf cast from shore.

 

Scuba Diving, Snorkeling, Spear Fishing

 

Man in water with snorkeling gear on.
Snorkeling Weekend in Bocas del Toro

Scuba diving and snorkeling conditions are best in the dry season.

The water right in town is cloudy, due to the surf and several small rivers that empty into Charco Azul.

We recommend these options:

1) For excellent snorkeling, scuba diving, or spear fishing, go to nearby Punta Burica.

The deep, rocky ledges of Punta Burica offer protection from turbulence, and provide good habitat for sea life.

You can drive or take a boat out to Punta Burica.

For directions and hotel on Punta Burica, Click Here.

2) The Islas Ladrones, an hour boat ride to the southeast,

It is an excellent location for snorkeling and scuba diving.

3) Go to Bocas del Toro for the weekend.

Bocas del Toro is a 5 hour drive (plus ferry ride) from Puerto Armuelles. There are many snorkeling spots in the Bocas del Toro area – and many guides that are eager to take you. Bocas is one of our favorite long week end vacation spots.

4) Visit the islands off the coast of Boca Chica.

Boca Chica is about half and hour East of David. The islands off the coast of Boca Chica offer excellent diving. We once followed a humped backed whale and her cub in that area. A very memorable experience.

Since Panama is a tiny country, you can access practically any part of it, or neighboring Costa Rica, for a weekend trip.

Sailing, Windsurfing, and Kiteboarding

Man testing out his kiteboarding sail on land
You Can Sail, Windsurf, KiteBoard in Puerto

Each day, particularly in the dry season, onshore winds, provide ample opportunity for those who enjoy wind sports.

Onshore winds that range between six and fifteen miles per hour are ideal for sailing, windsurfing and kiteboarding.

At the peak of the dry season, in March, April, and May, afternoon onshore winds may be as high as the low twenties offshore.

For thrill seekers, one can easily travel within Panama or Costa Rica to access higher wind for board sports.

However, there is generally ample wind right here in Puerto to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Horseback Riding

boy dismounting a horse
We Paid $125 For This Pregnant Mare

The horse is very much a part of life in Panama.

For the many Panamanians who still live a rural, agrarian life, the horse is essential for working the land.

You will often see horses being ridden along the highway and in the fields.

For this reason, expats who ride horses, or anyone who would like to experience horseback riding, will find it easy to pursue the sport here.

In Puerto Armuelles there is a small but growing number of expats who ride.

There’s even a guy from Texas who participates in local rodeo competitions on weekends. (Note: Rodeo riding is not for beginners).

There are rodeos – sometimes multiple rodeos – happening every weekend during rodeo season. Rodeo season is in the dry season.

Feed and equipment stores abound in Panama. There are several stores in Puerto Armuelles where one can buy basic halters, saddle blankets, grooming tools, and feed.

In David, there are stores selling more expensive saddles and tack as well.

If you have experience maintaining horses in the U.S., you will be pleasantly surprised by the low costs here in Panama.

horses and calves at a rodeo
During Rodeo Season, There Are Rodeos Every Weekend in Puerto Armuelles

In Puerto, you can buy a basic criollo horse for a child or adult for less than one hundred dollars.

 

If you are interested in finding a truly spectacular horse, you can buy the horse of your dreams, at a bargain price, near Boquete or Volcan and trailer it back to Puerto.

Here in the tropics, the grass grows fast, so you can maintain your animals on a much smaller acreage than you could elsewhere.

In summertime, if the grass supply on your own land runs low, it is easy and inexpensive to graze your horses on neighboring properties.

There are miles of primitive roads and trails to explore around Puerto Armuelles.

Some of these paths have great views of town and the ocean beyond.

You can ride west for an hour and you’ll find yourself in Costa Rica.

There is also plenty of flat track if you like to ride fast, jump, etc..

Life in Panama certainly has many benefits. For horse lovers, it is a wonderful opportunity.

Ocean Swimming

Man relaxing in the flat ocean
Relaxing in the Ocean

In the dry season, from late December, to June, the ocean is quite clear and lovely for swimming.

If you swim for exercise, the water is normally calm as glass in the mornings, and it is quite possible to “do laps” on the miles of shallow, clean water.

I usually ride my bike to the beach, do some Yoga, and finish with a swim.

It is marvelous.

Kayaking & Rafting

man kayaking in ocean in Puerto Armuelles, Panama
Fun Kayaking in Puerto Armuelles

There is small wave sea kayaking in Puerto Armuelles. There are also some good river kayaking in the hills of Chiriqui.

There is a gentleman in Puerto Armuelles who uses his river kayak for both ocean and rivers.

Here is a link to a Youtube video of some fun river rafting nearby.

Water skiing and Wakeboarding

Due to the absence of swell in the dry season, the ocean is flat as glass in the mornings.

Perfect for water skiing and wake boarding.

The air is cool, the water is warm, there are few other boat wakes.

What could be better?

Beach Walks

girl running on beach with her dog
Walking – or Running – On the Beach In Puerto Is Alway Enjoyable

Puerto Armuelles has literally miles of continuous sandy beach for walking.

In the dry season, the beach is best for walking in the early morning, or just before dusk.

In the rainy season (and it doesn’t usually rain that much in Puerto), the sky is often overcast, the weather cooler, and less breezy, so you can walk anytime.

No matter what the season, walks on the beach is always enjoyable.

As more and more new beach front homes are developed, you can also chose to visit new friends along the way.

Surfing

Man surfing an Ocean Wave as it it tubing
Expat Surfer Enjoying Puerto Armuelles Small Wave Surfing

Puerto Armuelles is definitely not a destination for surfers.

 

Having said that, there are a number of us in Puerto who surf.

Our wave season is from May to November, when you can expect to ride waves from 2′ up to 5′.

It’s all beach break.

Clean in the mornings, with a slight offshore breeze. By afternoon, it’s usually blown out by onshore winds

(If you kiteboard, you can pull out a big kite for the afternoon)

For more on surfing in Puerto Armuelles, Click Here.

There can be week, even two week long stretches without surf in Puerto.

Surf Spots Near Puerto Armuelles

To get a wave fix, during a spell of no waves in Puerto:

(Note: The Punta Burica pennisula casts a wave “shadow”.
This shadow blocks about eighty percent of the prevailing southwest swell. So if you can get out of the shadow, you get more waves.)

1) Drive just north out of town to Cucuy or Manaca. The waves are usually abit bigger there.

2) Go to nearby Costa Rica

To get even bigger waves, drive to Paso Canoas and into Costa Rica.

Paso Canoas is the border town between Costa Rica and Panama.

Then head out into Costa rica to the Southwest side of Punta Burica.

The famous Pavones and other spots are strung along the Costa Rican side of the Punta Burica pennisula.

The waves in Pavones are famed to be some of the biggest, hollowest in the Americas. One wave boasts rides of up to two kilometers.

3) Charter a boat to Punta Burica.

You can charter a small panga (open fishing boat) and access good surf in about half an hour from downtown Puerto Armuelles.

You can also drive or bus. To learn more about surfing on the Punta Burica pennisula, Visit This Page.

Baseball

Kids doing high-fives after a baseball game in Puerto Armuelles
Baseball is Very Popular with Kids and Adults In Panama

Baseball is hugely popular in Panama. It is the number one sport of Panama.

There are numerous baseball stadiums throughout town.

It seems that there is always a game happening.

Sundays is when the men’s teams play.

One fun activity is to watch one of their games – they go on all day long.

It is especially enjoyable to watch the kids play.   You can often spend an enjoyable hour eating a raspado (sno-cone) & watch kids, or adults, play ball

Those young kids baseball games happen almost everyday day of the week, but only when school is out. That is in January and February.

There are women teams too. But they are far fewer than the men teams. Surprisingly, the kids teams are co-ed. But boys outnumber the boys by far.

If you are a baseball player, the team you join will welcome you.

However, be aware that:

  • You team mates will take the game very seriously
  • They will drink beer steadily throughout the day
  • The time and place of the game will change without notice
  • You may play multiple games on Sunday. But even if you only play one, it will most likely occupy your entire day.
  • It will be a fun and cultural experience
  • It will be hot since the games happen in the dry season.

Mountain Biking

One of the big advantages of life in a less developed country, is that it is, well, less developed.

For the mountain biker, this means that there is a lot less asphalt, and a whole lot more dirt road and trail riding.

While Puerto Armuelles has been on a recent campaign to pave the roads in town, you only need to ride for a few minutes to get to dirt roads.

Puerto’s dirt roads head up into the hills and go on, seemingly, forever.

Local farmers have been walking and riding horseback on these roads for generations, so many of the trails form a network between small agricultural communities.

This makes for an interesting ride, as well as creating a labyrinth of dirt roads and trails to explore.

Many trails form a loop back to town.

There are easily hundreds of miles of dirt roads around Puerto.

And there must be, literally, thousands of miles of unimproved trails.

As with any rigorous sport, other than water sports, in the dry season riding is definitely best done early in the morning, or just before sunset, since midday can be hot.

 

Golf and Tennis

Back in the days of Chiquita Banana, the company maintained the vast (literally hundreds of acres) grassy plain on the the southern border of downtown as a multi-use space.

There is an asphalt air strip where the crop spraying planes used to take off to fumigate the banana fields.

A few hangers and warehouse buildings are scattered around the perimeter.

For Chiquita’s executives, a nine hole golf course was maintained, as well as a pool, tennis court.

There was also a clubhouse, complete with bar, restaurant, and even a bowling alley.

Today, this immense, grassy plain, known to locals as “The Llano” is generally kept mown.

Folks can still play a short round of golf.

The landing strip still runs down the middle, though the crop dusters are no longer.

On rare occasions, a private plane will make a landing, and rarer still, the president, or other high government official will land to meet with local politicians, shake hands, and make a speech, assuring locals that Puerto Armuelles is always at the top of their agenda.

For the serious golfer, the course has nothing to offer.

It is flat, and it is certainly in disrepair.

However, if you’re just interested in getting a little exercise and chasing a ball between the holes, you can do this.

In summertime, you will see regular foursomes, having a seemingly wonderful time on the course.

As for tennis, the tennis court is not in great shape, but on the positive side, it is usually available.

For the serious player, it would be far better to take advantage of the inexpensive local labor, and build your own court.

Ditto, for the pool.

Far better to build your own lap pool, or swim in the ocean, which in the dry season, is clear, and flat as glass in the mornings, before the breeze picks up.

We hope this list helped you out.

This list covers many of the things you can do outside in Puerto. Another day we will add indoor activities as well.

If you have any suggestions or comments, please use the comment section below.

 

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13 Comments on "What To Do in Puerto Armuelles, Panama"

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Claudia
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

How hard is it to get packages if you buy things online? Is there a big hit from customs if you buy things?
Thanks, Claudia

Betsy Czark
Admin
2 years 2 months ago

Hi again Claudia,

It is not hard to get packages sent. Cost of shipping is a bigger bite than customs.
For customs it depends upon type of item.

Cynthia
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Cynthia
3 years 3 months ago
Aloha, I have been researching Panama, Ecuador and Belize as areas where I may want to relocate. Puerto Armuelles is intriguing me. I live in Hawai’i now, and have a small farm where I can grow organic food, and everytime I look up, there is the beautiful Pacific. It sounds like the hills above Puerto Armuelles might offer something similar. I love horses, and always had them until moving to Hawai’i where the cost of a bale of hay is $40…. so the thought of being in horse country is appealing. I love to chill on or by the ocean,… Read more »
Betsy & Reyn
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Betsy & Reyn
2 years 11 months ago
Hi Cynthia, As you may have heard through other correspondence with my site, we have had technical/personnel issues which resulted in a no responses to comments and inquiries for quite awhile. I apologize. The issues are now fixed. Puerto would be a great place to paddle board, but no one yet does. You would probably take all the small waves from the surfers though. But there is alot of beach. I know there is a guy up in the Dolega area that makes paddle boards. There are fruit and vegetable stands on the streets pretty much every day. On the… Read more »
Debbie Curtis
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Debbie Curtis
3 years 5 months ago

Just found your posts and they are very informative and thorough! Thank you! My husband and I are coming to Panama in May for our second exploratory visit. As we didn’t know anything about Puerto before, we didn’t visit. But this time, we will. It sounds like it could be the place!

Betsy & Reyn
Guest
Betsy & Reyn
3 years 5 months ago

Hi Debbie,
Glad you found our site useful. Give us a shout when you visit in May.
Happy New Year!

sheree fish
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sheree fish
3 years 11 months ago

How pet friendly is the area? Are there quality veterinarians? How about dog prescriptive diets? Are they readily available or hard to find. Thanks.

Betsy & Reyn
Guest
Betsy & Reyn
3 years 11 months ago

Hi Sheree,
I would say it is pet friendly. Most people we know, including ourselves, have multiple pets.

Quality veterinarians is another story. There are some, but they can be hard to find.

We do know a very good vet in David. I know he sells all sorts of foods for animals. In Panama, overall, though, I would say such things are hard to find. Obviously the bigger the place, the more choice, including higher quality choices, you will find.

Marge Epley
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Marge Epley
4 years 10 months ago
My husba.nd andI are coming Puerto November 27.I just retired from 30 years of nursing (most of it inEmergencyRoom), he retired from the Military, then had a second career as a substance abuse counsellor. We worked in the same hospital when we met.Married in 06. Then he got dx with an agent orange blood cancer, Multiple Myeloma. After a year of chemo and a stem cell transplant in 2008, he is still cancer free, and was just waiting for me to get to retirement. We are young 60’s and looking for some adventure, Do you have any ideas how we… Read more »
Betsy & Reyn
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Betsy & Reyn
4 years 10 months ago
Hi Fred and Marge, Congratualtions on being cancer-free. That is fabulous news. Now for retirement! If you are looking to hook up with some folks while you are visiting you may want to go on one of the yahoo forums. For instance, Gringos Near David or the Puerto Armuelles Yahoo forum. Go to Yahoo Groups and then search for those. People are very welcoming. There are regular events in some areas. If you know your itinary I am sure you can discover people that are happy to share there experiences in Panama. If you make it to Puerto Armuelles, we… Read more »
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