“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
I think a day at the beach is unforgettable. Of course, up to now I’ve only visited five beaches in my life. Easy to keep track, you see. But, seriously, for a Midwesterner like myself, going to the beach isn’t a simple weekend activity.
I remember the first time I saw the Pacific Ocean. I was about 13, and we were on a family/business trip going from San Diego to Sacramento. Once the ocean was in view, my parents pulled off of the highway, and let us kids run down and touch the water. Just so we could say that we’d “touched the Pacific.” It’s something I will always remember. 🙂
When I visited Playa Las Lajas, I was reunited with the beautiful Pacific, roughly 3,000 miles from my last visit. I can just hear the regular beach-goers at Santa Monica (and all the other beach-type places. That’s just the one off the top of my head) laughing at me right now. I know, I know. It’s just a beach. It’s just an ocean.
But, I don’t care. lol
Random note: I have this habit of picking up every free tourism magazine & newspaper that I can find, and reading up on all the sights to see (and the best beaches). If you care you check them out yourself, these are the ones I read: Escapes Panama, The Visitor, The Panama Good Times, and The Pearl Island Times. I’ve found that this is actually a good habit to have. Besides doubling as souvenirs and up-to-date information on events & festivals, they are of great use for writing my blog articles. I’ve been relying on them a lot since I’ve been home.
Scroll down to read more about Las Lajas, one of the loveliest beaches in Panama!
Introduction to Playa Las Lajas
While I can’t claim that Las Lajas is the most gorgeous of the beaches in Panama, it certainly is the loveliest in the Province of Chiriqui. As for “things to do here,” you’ll find that Las Lajas is a pretty versatile beach.
The water is the ideal temperature for swimming, and I’m happy to say, you won’t find such strong undercurrents like at some of the other beaches in Chiriqui (i.e. Playa La Barqueta). As for beach-combing, the long expanse of shoreline is amazing, as it feels like you will never run out of beach. 🙂 And… if you’re more the adventurous type, you can go out for surfing or body-surfing (which is more my forte).
When to Hit the Beach
Here is a good tip you should know about: Visit during the Panamanian school year! The beaches in Panama (Las Lajas, for sure) are practically deserted.
You should do your own research on when holidays are, etc, but just so you know, I visited the beach a couple of times around the end of June through the middle of July. It was so peaceful, I’m telling you. 🙂
Where to Pitch Your Beach Blanket
There are a couple of places along the beach to set up your day camp. The first time I visited, we just parked our car along a succession of covered picnic tables. As I said, we pretty much had the beach to ourselves.
For lunch we picked up some grilled corvina & tostones (to put it simply: fresh-caught fish & fried plantain) from the restaurant at the Paradise Inn, just down the road. The picture may not seem entirely appetizing (fish head & all), but it was the best tasting fish I’d ever eaten. You’ll notice that the fish is scored which actually makes for easier eating, IMHO. Actually, it might have something to do with cooking more evenly. Who knows!
There is just something about eating fresh food (without utensils, mind you), while swishing your feet around in the sand, and listening to the sound of the ocean in the background. It’s just so carefree. 🙂
The second option we found was the Las Lajas Beach Resort. For a small fee per person, we had access to the pool, showers, and the thatch-shaded tables. At the other location we kept all our stuff in the car, but at the Resort we were able to leave all our towels & beach gear at one of the tables. Much more convenient!
For lunch we ate at the Resort restaurant, and the food was pretty good… for everyone except me. Without going into too much detail, I was basically sick for a whole week after eating at this place. Everyone else I was with enjoyed their dishes & didn’t get sick. But, I was the only one who ordered the rice dish, complete with clams, calamari, and baby octopus. At the time, I’d just figured, “We’re by the ocean, it has to be fresh.” Well, obviously there was something wrong with it.
I can’t give a complete review on this resort because I didn’t actually spend the night. But, if you end up visiting yourself, watch out for that seafood dish… Better yet, bring your own food. Or opt for the fresh fish at the Paradise Inn.
Two more incidences occurred day, but they weren’t necessarily the Resort’s fault.
The first thing was the lingering stare of a Panamanian guy, in his mid-twenties, while I was rinsing off at the outdoor shower by the pool. *sighs* As all female travelers know, stares are to be expected while traveling. Heck, you can get stares in your own hometown! But, I still reserve the right to complain about it. Needless to say, it was a creepy. At least I remembered not to make eye-contact…
Anyways. The second incident was when I stepped on a broken seashell on the lawn (where I wasn’t expecting seashells to be hiding), and it took quite awhile (and quite a bit of applied pressure) to stop the bleeding.
These two things are nothing compared to how sick I was from that seafood dish. As I said, I won’t go into detail, but I don’t think I’ve ever been that sick before. And honestly, it took a minimum of two weeks for me to feel completely well again. Thankfully, the Panamanian family I was staying with took excellent care of me. I’ve never been pampered so much in my life. lol
Besides the abundance of seashells on the beach, there were also plenty of crabs to chase & purple olive snails to find. Yes, purple. olive. snails. It took me forever to find out what those little snails were called (thank you, Google). I wish I had a picture to show you. But, I wasn’t about to hold my camera in one hand & a slimy purple blob in the other. 😛 Really, they were fascinating, though (and I am not a fan of snails). It turns out that they are some of the fastest burrowing snails around. Bet you didn’t know that, did ya?
Okay, we have to end this on something other than marine gastropod mollusks. Even if they are purple.
While at the beach, I acquired a nice-sized collection of shells. Which I used to make a lovely wreath, once I returned home.
So, tell me. What is the most lovely beach you’ve visited? Do you have a favorite beach? Have you visited any beaches in Panama in the past? Let me know in the comments below!