The Village of Purio

Purio is a village in western Panama located on the Azuero Peninsula between the towns of Las Tablas and Pedasi. Most people drive right past it and don’t even know it exits. This is in the heart of Los Santos Province, one of the most traditional provinces in Panama. The best way to get here is by bus from the National Terminal in Panama City. The bus will go as far as Las Tablas. From there you will need to hire a small van to take you to Purio. Normally the van will be taking passengers all the way to Pedasi near the tip of the Azuero Peninsula, but will swing into Purio and drop you off at the church.

Purio is small, clean and quaint. Here, everybody knows everybody. Even if you’ve visited in the past, there will be someone that will remember you. Many of the homes used to be made out of mud and straw. But over the years, these have been replaced by cinder-block. Near the church is a large cantina where you will certainly hear the campesinos as they are having fun or playing dominoes. The villagers are extremely friendly and will go out of their way to help you. There used to be an outdoor earth-oven that was used for bread making, but this has now been built around.

Although there are not a lot of attractions in Purio itself, it’s certainly refreshing to get off the beaten path for a while and relax.

Church in Purio

Church in Purio

Las Tablas

Las Tablas is a city in western Panama located on the Azuero Peninsula. It’s in the province of Los Santos between the towns of Chitre and Pedasi. This is one of the most traditional places in all of Panama. The tableños as they refer to themselves, are very proud of their Spanish history. The area is rich with folkloric festivals throughout the year. The largest, and considered by many Panamanians the best, is the carnaval. Carnavales are held throughout the republic every year a few days prior to Ash Wednesday.

Las Tablas has several inexpensive hotels and excellent restaurants. There is a museum and a nice church. There are several smaller towns and villages in the area where you might see traditional hat weaving using colored plant fibers, or a woman designing a pollera dress which is the most beautiful of all the national costumes of Panama. The Pacific Ocean is nearby and there are several beaches. Many people use Las Tablas as a hub to get to Pedasi, a town at the end of the peninsula. They take a bus from the national terminal in Panama City, get off at Las Tablas, and then take a smaller van down the coast to Pedasi. This area also has nice beaches as well as surfing.

Church in Las Tablas

Las Tablas Church


Barqueta Beach

In western Panama on the Pacific side, south of David and the small town of Alanje, is Barqueta Beach. There is a hotel here, but also rentals, and miles of dark sandy beach. The waves can be a little high, and there have been swimming accidents.  Be very careful unless you are a strong swimmer.

If you get too hot, thirsty or hungry, there are bohíos where you can stop to get a cold beer. Or, you can hang-out by the pool and watch the iguanas and other lizards play.

Playa Barqueta

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Cerro Punta — Cloud Village

Cerro Punta is a small village in the western highlands of Panama. It’s located along the slopes of Volcan Baru, Panama’s highest peak. Near the border of Costa Rica is the town of Concepcion. Drive north up a winding asphalt road to the city of Volcan. Beyond Volcan is the scenic Bambito Hotel and Resort. It’s a wonderful place to stop and walk around. It’s also one of the few places, maybe the only place in Panama, where I was not able to negotiate a price for one night.

A few kilometers up the road is the village of Cerro Punta. We stayed at Hotel Cerro Punta, and there is an onsite restaurant with a most gracious host. Nearby there is a hostal named Elvita. Although we did not stay there, from what I could see, it was popular with hikers.

A few kilometers up the road, and where the asphalt ends before the continental divide, is Guadalupe.

Cloud Forest

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Beautiful Bambito Hotel and Resort

In western Panama between Volcán and Cerro Punta, nestled in the mountains along a winding road, is the Bambito Hotel. In contrast to other places you pass along the way, Bambito is quite different. As you slowly come around a curve you will see a high cliff to your left, and then a large landscaped garden and several ponds on your right. Not only is the resort in an ideal and exotic location, but it is also very clean. You won’t find any garbage or plastic bags blowing around here. Even if you don’t stay overnight, stop and explore the area for an hour or so before continuing on up to Cerro Punta.

Bambito Garden 2

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