Located on the tip of the Azuero peninsula in the heart of a tropical and cultural paradise is Pedasí. Prior to the last decade, Pedasí was known as a “sleepy little fishing village”. Today, Pedasí is without a doubt, the next international destination. It is poised for an explosion of growth. Let’s look at what is happening today in Pedasí.
Church bells ringing, children playing ball in the plaza gardens, smiling faces are all a part of the charm of this town. It’s changing and changing fast but with respect for the local architecture and traditions.
Pedasí is home to the first female President of Panama, Dona Mireya Moscoco from 1999 to 2004, widow of the former President Armulfo Arias. She oversaw the US handover of the Panama Canal in January 2000.
Moscoco’s private airport in Pedasí has been converted to a public airport so now there 3 weekly flights 30 minute jump flights from Panama City to Pedasí by the local airline Aeroperlas. Otherwise, it is a four to five hour drive which will be shortened when the broadening of the highway from Divisa to Las Tablas is completed.
Casa de Campo Pedasí hotel, owned and operated by the Diaz family, remodeled the residence held in the family for generations and converted it into a wonderful boutique hotel. You feel like you are part of the family when you walk into a large sala (living room) graced with contemporary art along with a family photo or two. The place is a mixture of a Panamanian country house coupled with modern conveniences like WiFi.
Breakfast is graciously served in the open air courtyard or in the dining room. Casa de Campo comes with a pool, a yard with a huge mango tree, even a hammock to relax in. It’s the ideal place to relax and refresh yourself after a day of fishing, surfing, snorkeling, or just soaking up the flavor of Pedasí.
Recently the world surfing tournament was held in Playa Venao, a short drive from Pedasí. The place to hang out is the Playa Venao Bar & Restaurant in front of a beach break. It offers a romantic beachfront wooden deck with lounge-like (stuffed cushions) seating areas and palapa or thatched roof umbrellas for shade. There’s a surfboard and body board rental stand. Local dishes such as fried fish, ceviche, or a burger and french fries can be enjoyed. Plans for a large boutique hotel are underway.
Speaking of surfing, ten time Panamanian female surfer, Sonia “Pucha” Garcia, lives in Pedasí and has recently opened up a store with swim and surf wear and all items for the beach. Pucha is not only a fierce competitor, she’s an entrepreneur, a home builder, as well as a mother of 13 year old Kalani. She has accomplished many of her dreams by her own hard work. Pucha’s annual calendar is well-known throughout her native country as it shows a sexy, sweet and happy athletic woman who clearly loves Panama and all that Panama has to offer.
There are some “heavy hitter” foreign investors in the area: 1) French architect Gilles Saint-Gilles 2) Dekel Development, an Israeli partnership, business endeavors include the Andromeda Ocean Estates, a luxury beachfront community, Pedasíto Cafe and Boutique Hotel, with plans for a commercial center 3) Costa Pedai, another luxury residential ocean view development. 4) World-famous celebrities & movie stars who have built vacation residences
The famous French architect Gilles St. Gilles designed and built a multi million dollar personal estate near Pedasí for he and his wife. They fell in love with the region in 1997. The unique residence full of old world charm was converted to an upscale hotel called Villa Camilla with only seven rooms and beautiful grounds for a relaxing seaview retreat.
Gilles Saint-Gilles and his partners have launched a project to develop a true community along 5 kilometers of the coast. Luxury homes have been constructed as well as smaller units, with prices from around half a million to 2 million dollars.
Dekel Development tells us that when they decided to do a development in Pedasí they didn’t think of it as a single project, they wanted to create a destination integrated into the community.
Pedasí is a haven for activities such as fishing, surfing, kite surfing, scuba diving, spear fishing, and horseback riding. Maybe, in the way off future, even a golf course. The ideas is to create a community where you can drive up to the airport to pick up family and friends, stop and have a latte, buy some fresh fish and drive back home. You can entertain your friends from abroad for weeks without ever falling into boredom.
They created Andromeda Ocean Estates only one kilometer from Pedasí on the ocean with magnificent houses under construction and phase I sold out. A Beach Club with pool will be underway shortly as well as a boutique hotel. Infrastructure is in including streets with lampposts, a waste water treatment plant, underground utilities, a gate house, and covenants to protect views.
The commercial center is coming soon around the town plaza with plans for a pharmacy, specialty stores, and supermarket. It will be constructed in colonial style using Panamanian wood with rustic furnishings. Dekel Development engages in social and environmental awareness.
Costa Pedasí is another luxury residential community with ocean views, top of the line amenities. They’ve sold out of phase I, 75% sold out in phase II and releasing lots in phase III. A Beach Club is under construction as well as 6 boutique rooms for rent, an infinity edge pool, a gym, restaurant and bar.
There are other unique lodging experiences including but not limited to Villa Romana, perched on a cliff overlooking pristine beaches, with an in-house chef and La Rosa de Los Vientos (The Wind Rose) a tiny B & B with only 3 rooms within walking distance to playa El Toro.
Shokogi provides a whole spectrum of exciting activities from kite surfing to board paddling. Gigi and his business partner Shoko own several kite surfing schools around the world (in places like Israel, Australia, Thailand, Brazil). They came to Panama and opened up a kite surfing school and live there.
“All of our team is IKO certified, meaning we adhere to the safety and professional standards of teaching and learning kite surfing” Gigi says.
Another sport is standup paddle surfing. They take tourists to Isla Iguana, (Iguana Island) one of the major natural attractions, by boat just 20 minutes off shore from Pedasí. People of different ages and athletic abilities can learn to paddle surf. The island has pristine waters, coral reefs and white sand which can be enjoyed while paddling. The views are amazing and it’s good exercise. Lessons are available with one on one instructors that will guide you through the activity that you choose.
The coast of Pedasí offers excellent options for fishing. Most of the local fishermen use a 27’ boat called a panga with a 40 hp engine and will take sport fishermen out trolling or fishing with live bait.
Some of these fisherman have been trained by their fathers who were fisherman. Chartering a boat is simple and not as expensive as other sport fishing destinations. The captains will provide you with just the right bait and take you to the right locations for whatever is in season. Depending upon the time of year, one can normally capture wahoo, tuna, pargo, roosterfish, dorado, and jack.
You can take your fresh catch to the local Pedacito cafe and the chef will cook it with several gourmet sauces for an unmatched culinary experience, especially if you happen to be there on a night when Canadian chef Tyler Powers is there. Adi is a gracious host and partner in the Cafe and hotel, and can answer many of your questions about the local lifestyle.
The Azuero Peninsula is situated in the province of Los Santos and known as the cultural heart of Panama. Preservation of the authentic traditions of Panama are held by the lively locals in the Azuero peninsula who seemingly live for festivals and parades.
Carnaval (Carnival) kicks off in the town of Las Tablas, in February the Friday before Ash Wednesday and continues through the next Tuesday. Folkloric traditions are maintained with fancy costumes and floats, dancing, drinking, marching bands and other music. Parades include spraying spectators with water pistols.
Somewhat less raucous versions are held in quieter towns of Chitre and/or Pedasí. Semana Santa or Holy Week (Easter) has colorful celebrations and parades in La Villa de los Santos and other towns.
Hotels in the region will have rates that are double the standard rate, and reservations must be made months in advance.
In July there is the Festival de Santa Librada in Las Tablas famous for its Festival de la Pollera, which showcases the beautiful national dress. It is a flowing dress embroidered and decorated with lace. Some of the dresses have been handed down for generations. Each year the Reina of the Pollera (Pollera Queen) is selected.